1. Home
  2. Projects
  3. Let there be light! New life in an architect’s home in Rome
| Designbest editorial staff


ow to turn an ordinary dark apartment into to a charming light-filled home. With a simple concept, which is as delicate as its execution, architect Carola Vannini renovated this home for herself, husband, young daughter and two little pups. We are in Trastevere, the iconic working class neighbourhood in Rome, located across the river Tevere (from the Latin Trans-Tiberim) and extremely popular with tourists on the lookout for one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in the Italian capital. 


The kitchen was moved into the main living space, now part of living room and dining room.

The living room with the open kitchen

The central opening leads to a small glazed corridor and utility room. On the left-hand side, a small roof-terrace and on the right-hand side, the study.


Carola’s place is slightly hidden from the much beloved “trattorie” around Piazza Trilussa. After a couple of years working in architecture practices in some of the most prestigious capital cities around the world, Carola wanted to return home close to her family. The apartment she was lucky enough to buy, is on the first floor of a period building with timber framed ceilings and small windows. In fact, here the main challenge was to light the space. 


A view of the kitchen, which leads to the study and to the left-hand-side, the small terrace which floods the whole home in natural light.

An antique gold-plated mirrow, in the background the master bedroom

On the wall, an antique inlaid gold-plated family mirror. In the background, the master bedroom.


White and a neutral colour palette accentuate the feeling of light. Delicate accents placed in strategic points and a carefully planned lighting strategy give depth and add warmth. The parquet flooring in bleached oak gives visual continuity and brightens up the space even more. And what's more, furniture materials and colours were chosen to be in harmony with each other. Under the white concrete kitchen counter, a strip of Leds lifts this monolith from the ground and makes it look lighter. And above the kitchen sink, a second lighting strip hidden by shelves enhances the old brick wall, which was uncovered during the renovation project. In the study, back-lit Plexiglas panels hide built-in storage, which in turn increases its perspective.


Corner sofa in the living room

On the left-hand side, a corner sofa forms a small entrance corridor. On the right-hand side, the floor plan.


Without moving load bearing walls or altering the internal layout, Carola has managed to play around with room allocation, by taking advantage of each square metre and each sunbeam. The floor plan is divided into three parts with the old entrance at the centre, which is now the “foyer”: an open-plan space with living room, dining room and kitchen. On the right-hand side, the bedrooms and on the left, a study with utility room and the small roof terrace, which bathes the entire living room in lots of natural light.


In the small glazed corridor, which opens up onto the terrace, a simple console table and stool make you feel outside even when it’s raining (left-hand side image). If you turn around, you’ll see study with back-lit built-in wardrobes and bespoke shelves, designed to make the most of every space (right-hand side image).

The kid's room with a mezzanine

In the kid’s room, wall-to-wall storage built under the mezzanine floor provides enough space to keep everything tidy. The alcove is closed by a back-lit panel in Plexiglas, which lights up the darkest areas in the room (on left-hand side, a view under the mezzanine floor and on the right-hand side, a view entering in the room).

The sleeping quarters with the bedroom and the bathrooom

In the sleeping quarters, the bathroom cladded in brushed grey resin. Lighting strip along the floor and wall lights brighten up the glossy white fixtures as if they were sculptures (Serie Sfera, Catalano).
In the bedroom, the mood is both romantic and fun: a tufted baroque headboard and speech bubbles, reference poetry and playfulness both at once.


We always imagine architects’ own homes to be exceedingly beautiful and this is no exception. Carola Vannini has turned a dull apartment into a light-filled work of art, full of poetry. This home enchants us with its light and airy feel. This is Carola’s most challenging project to date, to work for and by yourself is a difficult task, especially if you’re a true perfectionist. We give it top marks and we look forward to her next projects. 


Before and after refurbishment in comparison

How a home can completely change: before and after in comparison.


Design project

Renovation of an apartment

Location: Trastevere, Rome,Italy
Client: arch. Carola Vannini
Floors: one
Size: 100 square metres approx.

Interior design project and furniture sourcing:
Carola Vannini Architecture,
Via Machiavelli, 49, 00185 Rome, Italy
Tel: 00 39 347 6867799

Email: info@carolavannini.com




Photos: by Stefano Pedretti, Courtesy Carola Vannini Architecture

share on: