Get the look
concrete, stone, steel, polished plaster, and lots of light. Also vital was to connect the basement with the first floor. “First floors often become a redundant corridor you walk through,” Ashlea says. “We didn’t want that.”
Martin suggested making the entire floor between souped-up basement and first floor out of glass pavement lights, those thick, round glass things you see underfoot and don’t think about. They’re not usually used in domestic interiors. To do it, he’d engineer a concrete floor set in a steel frame, cast on site, with the glass circles set in. A pretty innovative idea. The couple were doubtful, but went for it. Now you can see up or down, and light filters through the thick circles of glass. From below, the concrete structure holding them looks a bit like a giant waffle. The avant-garde effect is terrific, and brings so much light downstairs that it doesn’t feel like a basement at all.
The room is huge. Luckily it didn’t need to be lowered. A modern extension with sliding glass now replaces the old one and floors throughout the house are pale white oak. The kitchen area and island, designed by Martin, is Corian, with a huge steel catering cooker. Mauro loves its industrial extractor and big lava-stone barbecue, for super-healthy Mediterranean food. Under the former vault, a utility room and loo are white and practical, and the garden is easy-maintenance, with herbs and climbers.
Two design elements apart from the bubble floor put the house in its own league. A reeded-glass steel-frame screen creates a gracious, Art Deco-style lobby on the first floor. But the pièce de résistance is a floating, blackened steel folded stair that goes all the way up through the house. At the bottom it doesn’t touch the floor, like a steel stirrup. On the ground floor it’s sided with patinated steel, so you almost don’t notice it, while on the upper floors the steel side is perforated, creating evanescent dappled patterns,
Architect: Andy Martin (andymartinarchitecture.com)
Oak floorboards: custom-made by Parquet Flooring (parquet-flooring. co.uk) Polished plaster: sphere8.com Steel staircase: by Burvills (burvills. co.uk)
Lighting design: by Pedro Pinto (pintolightingdesign.com)
Industrial cooker: by Mareno (mareno.it/en)
Lamp over kitchen island: from establishedandsons.com Kitchen bar stools: ikea.com Kitchen chairs: from Ligne Roset (ligne-roset-city.co.uk)
Kitchen sofa: from Cassina (cassina. com/en)
by Jean Prouvé at vitra.com
from Poliform (poliformuk.com) from Gubi (gubi.dk) from flos.com
from Blooming Artificial (bloomingartificial.co.uk)
olivorestaurants.com lit by a roof light above. The upper floors are all understated comfort. Two double bedrooms have big en suites, and the large mansard room is for guests. In these parts the décor is serene — pale grey for the linen curtains, bed linen and tiles. But there’s a stylish glass wall between bedroom and bathroom in the master suite, and a fully mirrored wall in the bathroom above, both adding a posh boutique look without flash. Everywhere else, modern and mid-century furniture enhances the overall look.
SUCH a big look has to be tempered by immaculate detail, and that is the case here. “We love Sardinia but on our first trip there after the house was done, we couldn’t wait to get home,” Ashlea says.
Knockout houses like this need a bold architect and an equally bold client, prepared to take a risk. Here, although ripping out took a quick month, the entire job took nearly two years — but the results speak for themselves.
WHAT IT COST
House in 2010: £1.6 million Money spent, 2015: £700,000 Value now (estimate) £3.5 million
Potence swing lamp over kitchen table:
Olive green chair in drawing room:
Orange Beetle chair:
Aim suspension lights in drawing room:
Grey linen for bedroom curtains:
Fake plants: Olivo restaurants and shops: Sleek and light: left, the basement, with super ceiling height, opens to the garden
In a style league of its own: above, a reeded-glass screen creates an Art Deco-style lobby
High light: above left, pavement lights are set between the first floor and the Corian kitchen
Clear idea: Mauro Sanna and wife Ashlea wanted modern interiors, full of light