A modern nomad who has lived in Stockholm, Majorca and London, worldrenowned Danish fashion designer and artist Malene Birger has finally put down her suitcases in an impressive villa built in 1905 at Italy’s Lake Como
When Danish fashion designer and artist Malene Birger made a villa overlooking Italy’s Lake Como her home, she was sure to inject her maximalist and eccentric style throughout the space
In 2016, Malene Birger and her husband bought an old villa with a stunning view overlooking Lake Como on a hillside near Tremezzo in Italy. Since then, they’ve renovated and created an amazing home that expresses the essence of Birger’s well-known maximalist and eclectic style, complete with a huge collection of antiques and vintage furniture, art and objets bought at auctions, flea markets and on her journeys around the world.
The refurbishing has been quite extensive, but, although the house has been altered from top to toe, Birger retained all of its original details, as she always does in her interior projects. That’s the charm of the countless properties she has renovated over the years – only a few walls have come down and the occasional smarter contemporary ideas carefully added. ‘The house hadn’t been refurbished for more than 40 years. It was a huge challenge and it is my biggest renovation to date,’ Birger says.
Included in the redesign are the kitchen, the impressive 8m-high hall and the four bathrooms, all of which have been decorated with black-and-white marble stripes accented with a chandelier – Birger’s signature style. What was once a damp ground floor has been transformed into a light and bright studio overlooking the lake, while outside, the swimming pool and garden full of old magnolia and pine trees are next to be updated.
Birger’s home is nearly finished and, for the first time, she has all her belongings in one place. The villa is spacious enough to contain her grand personal collection, which includes objects from cultures around the world, as well as interior design books from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Her love of Syrian inlay furniture, Arabian architecture, the works of Italian designer Carlo Bugatti and 1970s designer furniture is evident in all the rooms, and a pair of Indian columns bought in Delhi have finally found a home dividing the dining room and living area, as well as the master bedroom and wardrobe on the first floor.
As for the colour palette, dark brown, black and white create a calm, neutral backdrop for Birger’s exhuberant way of styling, while strong canary yellow has been carefully added in select spaces, giving her furniture a new lease of life. It’s a fresh, modern and surprising element for Birger that somehow merges seamlessly with the explosive amount of decor ideas and details present, amongst which are the artist’s own works.
Throughout Birger’s expressive home, modernity meets culture and history in a characterful aesthetic full of contrast and her distinct personality. It’s difficult to select your favourite room – you almost feel as though you’re in a luxury boutique hotel.