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Inventive uses of colour create a Milan home ideal for an energetic family

Architect and interior designer Patricia Bohrer hates boring interiors and loves the joy that colour brings

patricia bohrer colourful milan home dining room in teal and purple
Monica Spezia/Living Inside

‘You know when you are a teenager and you have pictures of models or pop stars in the corner of your mirror? I had images of British architect Max Clendinning’s interiors instead,’ recalls Patricia Bohrer, with a laugh.

One particular shot of a 1960s-style paint effect stayed with the artist and interior designer so much that she’s recreated the look in the entrance of her Milan apartment.

After training as an architect in Madrid, Patricia moved to New York where she worked for Daniel Libeskind’s office, but her childhood love of interiors was strong. Now living in Milan with her husband Alberto and three children – Isaac, Leah and Joseph – Patricia has set up her eponymous interior design studio. She’s worked mainly on renovations for friends, but it’s in her own home where her love of colour and architectural eye are most evident.

patricia bohrer colourful milan home kitchen glimpsed through sliding diagonal doors
Monica Spezia/Living Inside

Built in the 1960s and untouched since, the apartment, a 15-minute walk from the city centre, was a time capsule. Sadly, all of the original features were in terrible condition. ‘In the end, I only kept the old keys,’ admits Patricia. ‘My intention was to respect its history, but as we started the works everything was so damaged there was a domino effect – once we replaced one thing we had to replace it all.’ A completely fresh slate, though, has given her free rein to experiment.

‘My previous apartment was more standard – grey walls, high ceilings and very monotone – and I was so bored!’ she exclaims. ‘It was like I had no blood in my veins.’

patricia bohrer colourful milan living room with purple gerrit rietveld chairs
Monica Spezia/Living Inside

She suggests her affinity with colour could be due to her half Spanish, half Hungarian heritage, but for others her palette of purple and teal with clashing pink and red could be challenging. That was the case for Alberto at first, but Patricia made it her mission to show him the benefits of bright shades. ‘I don’t know if he was tired of listening to me, but he just said do your thing,’ she jokes.

‘My previous apartment was very monotone – I was so bored!’

Her vibrant choices have extended not just to paint, but also furniture, fabrics and wallpaper. There are velvet curtains and a painterly wallcovering by Pierre Frey, fabulous plum-hued ‘Utrecht’ chairs by Gerrit Rietveld for Cassina and, of course, her own bespoke pieces. Most notable of these are the diagonal sliding doors between the kitchen and dining room, which open like they are revealing prizes at the end of a 1980s game show.

patricia bohrer colourful bedroom in her milan home
Monica Spezia/Living Inside

‘My brother says that my children are so energetic because of the colours in our home,’ says Patricia. Over the last few months, where everyone has been forced to spend much more time indoors, she’s begun to wonder if he’s right. ‘We’ve all been screaming and dancing around the apartment with the music up loud, half naked,’ she explains. ‘Complete chaos!’ patriciabohrer.com

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration October 2020

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