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ow can you turn old rundown farmhouse into a modern home without losing its character? The answer to this, is a project by architect Federico Delrosso, which brings together contemporary design and a desire to conserve the existing period architecture. An old abandoned building, once a farmhouse in a large winery in the Piedmont region, North West Italy, was turned by a local textile manufacturer into a wonderful family home. Now, this old farmhouse exhibits a new found dignity: an elegant modern building, which doesn’t overdo it and with an understated feel, true its humble origins.


In the large living room, four groin vaults broken up by arches. Modern furniture with clean and simple lines arranged with period pieces like a workbench and a gold floor-standing candle holder. Ming vase by Serralunga and Glo-ball lamp by Flos.


We are in Lessona, at the foot of the Monte Rosa, between the historic Biella textile district (with top quality manufacturers like Ermenegildo Zegna, Loro Piana etc.) and Gattinara, a small town made famous by its wine. The farmhouse in question is also in wine country, Nebbiolo to be more precise (of the Barolo kind).
And here, textile industry and wine production go hand in hand since the seventieth century, in fact: “Comino Sella purchased several vineyards in Lessona to invest profits from the family’s textile manufacturing business in agriculture” (1671). What’s more, this extremely beautiful estate and winery is still owned by the Sella family, however this old rundown farmhouse was sold to a new owner, also a local textile manufacturer. And it was part of the farm built in 1840 by Giovanni Antonio Sella, when he commissioned his extraordinary manor at the top of the hill.


The renovated farmhouse stays true to its original character

The renovated farmhouse stays true to its original character. The zinc-plated metal veranda is the most visible modern addition.

Before the renovation, the old farmhouse in a state of disrepair

Before the renovation, the old farmhouse in a state of disrepair (left-hand image). After the renovation project, the ground floor plan. From left-to-right, kitchen with utility room, dining room, staircase and living room. And outdoors, the large veranda (in grey).


Owners and architect wanted this home to be free-flowing with large open-plan spaces and sparsely furnished, so as not to detract from the original structure. With its distinct orthogonal lines, the zinc-plated metal veranda is a taste of the meticulous simplicity of the interior. The large arches of the brick vaults, whitewashed to lighten their heavy appearance, mark a succession of rooms, in a space which is almost 200 sqm. And just like Federico Delrosso put it: “they also seem to be marking the succession of time”. 


The functional concrete flooring, by Tecnicem Milano

Floor-to-ceiling glazing with views of the countryside. The functional concrete flooring, by Tecnicem Milano, is in sharp contrast with ceilings and walls. Soft furnishings by Edra.

Open-plan kitchen and dining room. In the kitchen, freestanding storage/larder frees up ceiling and self-supporting structure, which is in turn lit by diffused lights. All the ground floor has the same concrete flooring Table in Corian and metal, designed by architect Federico Delrosso, who run the renovation project.

Staircase in light metal structure and the bedroom on the first floor.

On the first floor, en-suite bedrooms. A concrete staircase goes from ground to first floor, before turning into a lightweight metal structure. Inset in the floor, glass plate highlights the lightness of the floors above and slatted stained oak flooring.

The veranda with Fritz Hansen 3107 chairs and the Serralunga vase

From the veranda, the magnificent view from the top of the hills. Gazing into the Po valley and the Monte Rosa behind. Bespoke table in aluminium, chairs by Fritz Hansen, vase by Serralunga.


The are many rundown farmhouses in Italy; this is also true the world over. And we praise those who try to bring these buildings back from the dead, a process which in turn breathes life into the surrounding area. You need to have a clear vision of the potential of these buildings, before you attempt something so challenging and difficult. In this case, both owners and architect had the same goal. They imagined having a large veranda overlooking the valley, as well as open spaces under vaults, which blend together history and innovation. They were able to built an exciting home, where you can sense the past but also enjoy living in the present.



Design project

Farmhouse renovation and interior design

Location: Lessona, Biella, Italy
Client: private
Floors: 2 + mezzanine floor
Size: 420 sqm + 140 sqm terrace

Interior design project and furniture sourcing:
Arch. Federico Delrosso
Corso Italia 68, 20122 Milan, Italy
Tel: 00 30 02 56808148
Email: info@federicodelrosso.com


Credits Matteo Piazza,
Courtesy Federico Delrosso

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