An Italian Christmas: Elegant and stylish apartment sets the tone

This apartment in Rome was meticulously designed to be tasteful, elegant and stylish – and that doesn’t change when December comes round

Chemistry labs, to most people’s eyes, do not look great. Hardcore admirers of the brutalist-functional school might enjoy the benches, the Bunsen burners and the swan-necked taps, but anyone who yearns for softness, a little sparkle and a view is likely to be sorely disappointed. So when two chemists moved into a 1960s apartment block in Rome’s Vigna Clara (in the north of the city, close to the Stadio Olimpico and the Auditorium Parco della Musica), they wanted a visual change to the utilitarian environment in which they spent their working hours.
The setting gave them a head start: their penthouse is on the fifth floor and has a balcony running around all four sides. The family’s next step was to bring in interior designer Stefania Di Girolamo. They knew her well, admired her work and felt that her neoclassical-meets-now style would fit perfectly into a modern apartment in a history-rich city. Together with her daughter Giulia, Stefania reshaped the interior space, reworked the relationship between the balcony and the rest of the accommodation and came up with a strong look for the whole flat.
The clients’ brief was: “To give the apartment a classic and contemporary flavour at the same time.” The mix should incor­porate “timeless style with modern materials and tech­nology into one seamless, elegant and refined home” (that bore absolutely no resemblance to a chemistry lab).
“The idea was to create an important state apartment, even though the dwelling itself is a luxury building from the 1960s,” explains Stefania. “It was to be a tailor-made classic with modern furnishings, works and materials, all apparently contrasting to each other.”
Before it was time to pick out light fittings, however, there were technical problems to overcome. The terrace was crying out to be transformed into a garden in the sky, with grass, plants and space to sit out and enjoy the views. To make this happen required a good deal of engineering and hard sums. “The greatest difficulty was calculating the weight of the soil which had to be supported on a completely irregular terrace running all around the apartment,” Stefania recalls. The eventual solution was to alternate grass-covered areas with outdoor parquet-covered areas, to distribute the weight and lighten the structure. This would be particularly important whenever Rome had one of its sudden downpours, as grass absorbs so much water.
With the structural work in place, Stefania added iron furniture with light sunshades and sofas covered with sun- proof (and showerproof) fabric to create “outdoor lounges”. Iron gazeboes break up the space. These are covered with reed mats to offer protection from the evening humidity and some welcome shade on the hottest summer days.

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 154-162, issue 92.

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What A penthouse apartment
Where Vigna Clara, Rome
Interior design Stefania Di Girolamo
Words Anna Burnside
Photography Francesca Anichini


Stefania Di Girolamo, +39 3485 436966