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| Designbest editorial staff


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.


Already in the entrance hall, you sense the relaxed minimalist feel of this home. White with occasional dark accents and slatted oak flooring feature in every room.

Under the TV, a bench houses the wir

On the ground floor, living room with TV suspended from the ceiling. Under the TV, a bench houses the wiring system which with just one remote controls both the electric and electronic devices of the entire home.


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.


Near Modena the hills in the Emilian Apennine with Lambrusco vineyards

Hills in the Emilian Apennine with Lambrusco vineyards, they start a few kilometres south of Modena.


Panoramic view of the Piazza Grande, Modena.

Panoramic view of the Piazza Grande, Modena. In 1997, it was listed as a World Heritage Site by the Unesco.


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. 


the  terrace in front of the kitchen with a barbecue

The garden with main house and outbuilding. Right-hand side, terrace in front of the kitchen with a barbecue and a lot of space for parties with friends.


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.


Right in the centre of the minimalist dining room, the traditional crystal chandelier, Izmur by Barovier & Toso, contrasts with the purist lines of Colors table by MDF Italia and chairs by Verner Panton for Vitra. Wall-mounted strip-lighting by Viabizzuno.

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.

Refined games of light continue on the top floor, along the staircase and in the bedroom.

Refined games of light continue on the top floor, along the staircase and in the bedroom. Light and shadows are perfect for any type of mood, which can be either intimate or bright.

In the bathrooms, function and elegance is achieved with a simple and streamlined design. Large mirrors instead of tiles; this creates the illusion of a much bigger space. Toast lamps by Davide Groppi for Boffi Bathrooms.


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! 



Design project

Architecture project and lighting design of a country home

Location: Modena, Italy
Floors: 2

Lighting design and sourcing:

Credits Carlo Baroni
Courtesy Illumina S.r.l.

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