Once home to generations of Turin’s Colli di Felizzano dynasty, this grand mid-17th-century palace still features the family’s crest, immortalised in the Venetian terrazzo floor of its imposing entrance hall.
It’s a tangible link to the history of this building, which, now owned by Annamaria and Marco, a couple of young entrepreneurs, has become a place where the decorative elegance of Italy’s past sits side-by-side with designs by some of the country’s finest contemporary designers.
‘When we first saw the place, it was a stunning surprise,’ says Annamaria, who was instantly taken by the interior’s neoclassical frescoes – a 19th-century addition by Swiss architect Giuseppe Leoni.
However, the building, which is located just a short walk from the city’s National Library and Museum of the Risorgimento, had experienced something of a fall from grace since its heyday. Broken up into individual office units, it had, for a while, housed the headquarters of a consulate and, when Annamaria and Marco visited, was little more than an abandoned shell. Empty apart from a lonely reception desk.
To devise a scheme that would highlight the property’s incredible original features while adding a modern edge, the couple looked to local architect Fabio Fantolino. ‘We have known each other for a long time so they trust me,’ he explains. ‘Annamaria and Marco’s aim was to create wide spaces ideal for entertaining.’
To this end, Fabio rethought the existing layout, turning the smaller individual rooms on the ground floor into bedrooms and bathrooms, with the main family areas situated beneath the grand frescoes of the first floor.
Here, on the landing at the top of the stairway, sits a table and chairs, disguised from the nearby rooms by a screen. This unusual corner came into its own last year when, during the pandemic, it was the perfect spot to host meetings while working from home.
Throughout, Fabio has taken inspiration from the colours of the neoclassical elements, selecting pieces of furniture that offer a fresh perspective. Where the ideal design couldn’t be found, he created it himself, crafting bespoke sideboards, wardrobes, and kitchen cabinetry.
And, where the original herringbone parquet flooring no longer existed, he added simple grey resin. An intervention that is, he explains, ‘neutral enough not to distract attention’. Even his biggest addition – the new mezzanine level above the living room – is a sensitive reinterpretation of the centuries-old coffered wooden ceiling above.
It is not easy to match the magnificence of a building like this one, but for Fabio the project was not a battle between old and new. He may have placed the past in a modern context but, ultimately, he says, ‘I let the building’s character prevail’. fabiofantolino.com/it
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration May 2021
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