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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 (andy­marti­nar­chi­tec­

Oak floor­boards: cus­tom-made by Par­quet Flooring (par­quet-flooring. Pol­ished plas­ter: Steel stair­case: by Burvills (burvills.

Light­ing de­sign: by Pe­dro Pinto (pin­to­light­ingde­

In­dus­trial cooker: by Mareno (

Lamp over kitchen is­land: from es­tab­lishedand­ Kitchen bar stools: Kitchen chairs: from Ligne Roset (

Kitchen sofa: from Cassina (cassina. com/en)

by Jean Prouvé at vi­

from Po­liform (po­lifor­ from Gubi ( from

from the­

from Bloom­ing Ar­ti­fi­cial (bloomin­gar­ti­fi­

oli­vorestau­ 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.



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

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