Eclecticism and unconventionality in a private flat in Milan

Eclecticism and unconventionality are two key words that best distinguish the flat of Paolo Castellarin and his partner Didier Bonnin. Located in an imposing 19th century building, the space is a mix of bright colours, eye-catching art and playful design objects, in stark contrast to the sober surroundings.

We needed to use a lot of colours because the building’s features are very harsh” explains the designer about the heavy architecture of northern Italy.

Photography: Francesco Dolfo

For this reason, the couple decided to paint the ornately carved coffered ceiling a striking petrol blue. They flooded all the walls with a bright cherry red, a shade cleverly taken from the robes of a 16th-century pope depicted in an oil painting hanging just above a pair of leather and chrome Wassily chairs in the living room.

The painting, originally displayed above an altar in a Catholic church, belonged to Castellarin’s grandparents, as did many of the antique works of art that crowd the walls.
The two owners have brought lightness and playfulness to the flat through furniture and art: a lamp with an illuminated dragonfly; a chandelier above the dining table that resembles a descending spider worked with desk lamps; a cactus-shaped sculpture from the 1970s.

A series of large carved doors separate the living room, dining room and , exhumed during construction when the couple tore down the dividing walls of what used to be a succession of small rooms. Two overlapping ‘portholes’ were then cut into the wall between the living room and dining room to create a sense of balance in the rationalist style.

Photography: Francesco Dolfo

Exuberance and uniqueness are also clearly emphasised in the composition of their Artematica kitchen, with the counter and island made of matt brushed Verde Guatemala marble, entirely custom-designed. This custom-designed is finished in dark olive green glossy Vitrum, a finish that conveys a great sense of depth to the entire kitchen. Thanks to the flatness of the surface, objects are reflected as in a mirror, expanding the space to bring the reflected image of an outdoor garden into the home.

“Although some things have already been defined, the flat remains, a work in progress, a developing mix of interests and passions common to us” observes Paolo Castellarin.