et deep in the countryside that surrounds the city of Modena, northern Italy, this small home has been renovated with a modern touch. Built in the late nineteenth century for the gatekeeper of the nearby manor; this home is also close to a beautiful oak tree forest. When current owner Marcello Rinaldi found out it was on sale, he didn’t think twice about buying it. Marcello is the founding member of R.M.Impianti, a firm that manufactures home automation systems, he also owns lighting design store Illumina. Both businesses are only a few kilometres away.
Modena is an ancient and industrious town in the Po Valley, northern Italy. Halfway between the towns of Parma and Bologna; this region has some of the best Italian delicacies. In fact, the surrounding area is best-known for its famous parmigiano (parmesan), prosciutto crudo (a type of ham), aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar) and so forth. And this is exactly why Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana would have been out of place anywhere else. This year, after being the recipient of strings of awards, Osteria Francescana finally won the coveted title of best restaurant in the world (!). The list of notable people from Modena includes: opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, with a museum and theatre in his honour, and Enzo Ferrari, founder of the Ferrari racing team. There are two museums on Ferrari open to the public.
After years spent living in the city and with a grownup son, Marcello and his wife Amanda wanted to move to the countryside, mainly to have a garden for their dog and to be surrounded by nature. However, they still wanted to remain close enough to town and the headquarters of their business. Having found the ideal location, this house presented the right opportunity to reflect on how they wanted to live. When due to personal reasons their architect abandoned the project, Marcello and Amanda took charge, drawing from the knowledge they had acquired as technical consultants, working alongside architects and interior designers.
This is a building of considerable historic value, so there wasn’t a lot that could be done to the exterior. However, the internal layout with its warren of small rooms was considerably altered by Marcello and Amanda. They opened it up as much as possible, in an attempt to let light in from the only side that had large windows, namely the dining room and kitchen, located at the far end of the building. Particular attention was paid to the home automation system; this was almost inevitable as it’s our owners' field of expertise.
Kitchen and dining room, the only room with floor-to-ceiling glazing, fronts the garden terrace. The counter is 1 metre deep and it can be used as a breakfast bar. Diffused lighting fitted on top of the built-in cupboards, which hide storage and appliances, and spotlights (Viabizzuno) fitted in the false ceiling, discretely light the room. Kitchen is partly a bespoke design and partly from Boffi Kitchens.
Home automation is an interdisciplinary science. It studies what kind of technology is needed to improve the quality of life in domestic environments and buildings in general. It requires top quality professionalism and a wide technical knowledge that draws from a variety of different fields, from construction engineering to energy efficiency and from architecture to design.
Almost by chance, Marcello and Amanda Rinaldi went from being home automation experts to interior designers. This project was strenuous, as they had to juggle a thousand different commitments, as well as all the classic problems of period renovations. The project lasted almost three years, however the final result is possibly one of the greatest achievements of their lives. This is mainly because they have constructed a unique building surrounded by nature, a home which is modern, warm and welcoming. And even if Marcello talks about having the perfect home automation system that works by pressing one single button, as something he almost takes for granted... Well this is everyone else’s dream!
Architecture project and lighting design of a country home
Location: Modena, Italy
Credits Carlo Baroni
Courtesy Illumina S.r.l.