Art & soul

This liv­ing art gallery on Venice’s Grand Canal re­tains all of its mid-cen­tury grandeur

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents - Words JAMES RICH Pho­tog­ra­phy HELENIO BARBETTA/LIV­ING IN­SIDE Styling CHIARA DAL CANTO

Of­fer­ing breath­tak­ing views across the water, this liv­ing art gallery perched on Venice’s Grand Canal re­tains all of its mid-cen­tury grandeur

Cling­ing to the banks of Venice’s Grand Canal, and bask­ing in the re­flected glory of the Palazzo Ve­nier dei Leoni op­po­site, sits the home of Aus­tralian art col­lec­tor Nikki Mccul­lagh and her hus­band Paul. De­spite its arched win­dows and 18th-cen­tury frontage, this is no or­di­nary Vene­tian dwelling. Once home to another art col­lec­tor, the famed Peggy Guggen­heim, the op­u­lent, three-bed­roomed prop­erty is now a space that’s been specif­i­cally de­signed for show­cas­ing art­works, with two huge liv­ing rooms and a Mod­ernist din­ing room.

‘ When I was look­ing to buy, I saw all sorts of houses that were steeped in his­tory and at­mos­phere,’ re­calls Nikki. ‘But here, the canal views are ex­tra­or­di­nary, as mes­meris­ing as a Car­avag­gio paint­ing.’ With so many dif­fer­ent view­points from the house – the gar­den of the Casetta Rossa, a much-loved lit­tle red palazzo on the canal’s edge, can also be seen to the east – ‘you feel as though you’re on a boat, float­ing through the city cen­tre,’ says Nikki.

She and Paul com­mis­sioned ar­chi­tec­tural stu­dio Ta Ar­chitet­tura – which spe­cialises in the restora­tion of pe­riod prop­er­ties in Venice – and Parisian in­te­rior de­signer Jac­ques Grange to work on the space. ‘It was im­me­di­ately clear that the main ap­peal of this home was its nat­u­ral light and its re­la­tion­ship with the out­doors,’ re­mem­bers Nikki. ‘ We wanted the ar­chi­tec­ture it­self to be the pro­tag­o­nist – to take the lead­ing role in the look and feel of the prop­erty.’

To that end, al­most all of the doors were re­moved, open­ing up pas­sages be­tween the mus­tard-coloured mar­morino plas­ter walls of the en­trance and al­low­ing it to glow in the light that trick­les in. The orig­i­nal ter­razzo floors were re­stored – ‘and are lovely to walk on; cool, like mar­ble,’ says Nikki – while bronze was used for the kitchen fur­ni­ture. The dé­cor was pur­pose­fully kept un­clut­tered so as not to over­shadow the views of the city. ‘ We treated each win­dow as a por­tal that would bring the beauty of Venice in­side,’ ex­plains Nikki. ‘Like works of art in them­selves, they punc­tu­ate the space.’ taar­chitet­tura.com

HOW TO BOOK The house is a 20-minute car jour­ney from Venice’s Marco Polo Air­port. Book for up to six peo­ple, at £1,321 per night, with a min­i­mum stay of three nights, at veni­cepres­tige.com

Bath­room Im­pres­sive swathes of Ze­brino mar­ble en­velop this space, with bronze ‘Tara’ taps by Dorn­bracht. The bath­tub it­self is coated in Cremo Tir­reno mar­ble Op­po­site A sleek black basin, along with another set of ‘Tara’ taps, adds a lux­u­ri­ous touch to...

Kitchen The ta­ble is by Swiss de­signer Jurg Bally, paired with ‘Su­per­leg­gera’ chairs by Gio Ponti for Cassina Main liv­ing room ‘Digamma’ arm­chairs by Ig­nazio Gardella for Santa & Cole face the win­dow. The cof­fee ta­ble is also by Ig­nazio Gardella for...

Bed­room A ma­jes­tic four poster bed rests be­neath the ceil­ing’s orig­i­nal vaulted beams. The ‘TL2’ writ­ing desk is by Franco Al­bini for Poggi, and the Ital­ian arm­chairs are from the 1950s. Hang­ing on the wall is Di­a­mond Dust Shoes, an art­work by Andy...

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