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Design inspiration from a trip to Italy


It has been a lifelong dream of mine to travel to italy. In February of this year I got the opportunity to do just that. Being slightly deprived of travelling these past few years, it was especially exciting. Apart from great food and wine, the thing that struck me most was the beautiful architecture with amazing stone and tile work. The detailed work found in floors as well as ceilings were mindblowing and inspiring, to say the least. If you are planning a renovation or bathroom remodel or building your dream home soon, keep reading for beautiful inspiration. 

We started our journey in Nice, France. I had a bucket list item to check off: dinner at an amazing restaurant called Jan. You can see in the photos below that it is not only the excuisite food prepared by this talented Michellin chef that drew me there or the fact that he is a fellow South African, but also the interior design of his small but impressive restaurant. It did not disappoint!The restaurantt was warm, inviting, had a nice flow and felt luxurious. No fuss, just beautiful architectural detail and stonework. Simple and elegant.

This photo was taken through the window white we waited for the restaurant to open. The soft ambient lighting and warm decor really invites you in. (Luckily we had reservations and could follow through on that urge!)

This was the view from our table. High ceilings, two beautiful plastered arches, oak floors and over grouted stone on the walls. Two things that really stood out was the beautiful, branded cutlery and the hand washing ritual before the start of the dinner, complete with silver pitcher and bowl, wamr water and white linen cloth. 

From Nice we drove through Laguria stopping for two days at Cinque Terre. Here we hiked between the five quaint old towns where the old stone and warm coloured buildings left me in awe. Not to mention the fact that most of these buildings were built on a steep cliff and are still standing! It was winter and low season for them, and it seemed that everyone was either renovating, decorating or redesigning their shop or restaurant inpreparation for the upcoming tourist season. 

It was the door that caught my eye but then the whole neutral ensamble of this entrance really appealed to me. Everything is just so authentic and timeworn. Try as we might, some design elements can only be achieved by time. 

This beautiful stone wall photo was also taken in Vernazza. I am not sure if this was a specific technique, if the stone was in short supply or some other fact that made it difficult to incorporate, but the excessive overgrouting here is very appealing. 

This photo was taken in Riomaggiore. I really wanted to go in but it was a private residence. But oh my, that floor! It is like an oversized Terrazzo and is so artistically and thoughtfully arranged- both colour and shape wise. 

This gorgeous black and cream tile floor caught my eye in Manarola. Of course the contrast is eye catching but more amazing is the fact that these small squares were installed one by one. (It is impossible to crop the photo straight because the tile is not!) I hope to incorporate something like this into one of my projects. I just have to convince my tile guy it is worth the effort!

Next up was beautiful Tuscany. The photos below were taken in San Gimignano, Siena, and Pisa. Marble is of course everywhere and used in abundance. It also stood the test of time (for those marble naysayers out there!). Each stair going up the tower of Pisa, for example, looks like a shallow marble sink thanks to centuries of foot traffic.I also appreciated how ceilings get the same attention as floors or sometimes even more, as shown in the two photos below. Hence my “just look up” phrase in the heading. The first one was taken in Siena and the second two in Pisa.

Below are three of my most favourite floors! The first was in Lucca in a small coffee shop. Again, individual triangles in a perfect puzzle. The second and third ones were both in Pisa. The amazing attention to detail is inspiring and speaks to a different era. Some of these buildings took hundreds of years to complete and it is evident that trades were given the respect and time to practice their craft.  Do you like how my shoes match the tan colours in the tile?

We sped through Umbria and Lazio and ended our tour in Campania– in the Amalfi coast. The last two photos were taken there. A rustic rubble stone wall in soft colours in the small town of Pianillo and a classic herringbone stone floor in a quant shop in Amalfi.

And there you have it. I had to really narrow it down as inspiration and impressive design elements were in abundance. And I haven’t even started on the doors yet! That might be a whole other blog for next time. Thank you for reading and let me know if you plan any intricate stone floors in your house! I most probably have a reference photo for you. You are also welcome to join our monthly newsletter to get a glimpse at our work and get some design tips for your own projects. I will end with an early morning photo of Sienna.

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