Restored to its former glory by local artisans, this magical Milanese apartment captures the city’s bygone beauty
A magnificent marble staircase sweeps up to the entrance of this top-floor Milanese apartment, which is just a short stroll from the city’s famous Teatro Nazionale. Entrepreneur Enrico Guarnerio shares the opulent home with his two sons Guglielmo (right, 17) and Alberto (15), daughter Ginevra (11) and dog Wesley, but when he first viewed the flat, it was in a dilapidated state – its elegant reception area did not prepare him for the decrepit interior within.
Fortunately, Enrico caught glimpses of architectural beauty buried beneath the dust and debris, and purchased the property. He commissioned architect Francesca Neri, who had worked with him previously on his Milan office, to restore the apartment to its former glory. ‘As soon as Enrico showed me the space I fell in love with it and accepted the challenge,’ she says. Her team painstakingly restored the four-metre-high decorative ceilings and the original floors, windows and doors during a seven-month project.
Francesca employed local artisans to bring the interior back to life, and many of the pieces that furnish it are bespoke. ‘Designing a home in Milan is something very special,’ she explains. ‘ You have the best talents here. Every idea turns out better than you ever imagined. That’s the beauty of Italian craftsmanship.’ The two brass 1950s chandeliers in the living room were the starting point for the décor. Below these Sputnik-style lights are pink velvet sofas dressed with cushions in a graphic Dedar fabric that enhance the vintage vibe. The walls in the living and dining rooms are coated in a Champagne-coloured Marmorino Venetian stucco, a traditional lime-based plaster that provides a neutral counterpoint to some of the bolder, more contemporary colour choices in the house. Enrico’s study, for instance, is adorned with an emeraldand-gold Cole & Son wallpaper and the cloakroom is decorated with a bright red William Morris pattern. Shades of blue set a more serene tone in the bedroom.
The Boffi kitchen, although streamlined, does not feel clinical thanks to collections of artwork and family heirlooms, including silverware and crystal sconces. ‘For me, it is the mix of styles, textures and details that make an interior really special,’ says Francesca. Throughout the apartment, natural light shines across the handpainted floors and catches the crystals that cascade from low-hung lights: the overall ambience is timeless and ethereal. ‘I love every inch of this apartment,’ Francesca says. ‘It’s a home where elegance and period imperfection meet and make magic.’ fnafrancescaneri.com
The brass 1950s chandeliers in the living room were the starting point for the apartment’s opulent design scheme
Champagne-coloured Marmorino plaster provides a neutral counterpoint to some of the more contemporary colour choices in the house