Nature abhors a vacuum. So do most homeowners. A room isn’t a room until we make our mark on it. Until we do, it’s just a space. And no one wants to live in a void. The marks we make, of course, are wildly varied. And when done with taste and spirit, can be as individual as a fingerprint.
Landscape architect Cristiana Ruspa has created richly engaging environments, from Edenic villa gardens to a stunning installation of 40,000 plants atop the roof of a historic Fiat factory and test track in Turin. Her own home in the northern Italian city is graced with a garden where a century-old Japanese maple provides a delicate canopy over a terrace. Built in 1936 and situated near the Gran Madre district, with a good view of Monte dei Cappuccini rising greenly above the River Po, the house was full of dark woodwork when she acquired it. White paint not only lightened things up but also brought out the details of the paneled walls, coffered ceilings and Renaissance-style fireplace.
While another homeowner might see these high-ceilinged, amply proportioned spaces and immediately cut them down to size by filling them up, Ruspa took a more measured approach. “Too many things tire me,” she shares. “A space is lovely with a few beautiful things.” White walls and pale oak parquet floors form a classically neutral envelope for her furnishings, but there is nothing gallery-like about the effect. Tables and chairs hit the eye as pieces meant for living, not objects to be admired for their profile or sculptural qualities. And although Ruspa has left lots of free space in these rooms, they don’t come off as unfinished or determinedly minimalist. The living room features two commodious sofas, as well as several chairs and various occasional tables. The dining room — with a substantial table partnered with eight snappy red armchairs by Francesco Rota — is smartly functional.
Fabrics, wall treatments and art add depth and definition to these interiors. The living room seating sports velvet cushions from l’Opificio. A striped wallpaper from Cole & Son forms a dado in the dining room, above which hang photographs by the Italian-Senegalese multimedia artist, Maïmouna Guerresi. Ruspa’s color touch is especially deft in the studio, where an almost candy-striped wallpaper and the pale-blue frame of the leather and oak desk she designed contrast with an extremely long, black-and-white photographic print by Carla Chiono. “I have always loved photography, because it teaches you to have a detached point of view,” shares Ruspa. “It helps you to be objective.”
Nature appears discreetly in the home. No space-grabbing Monstera, or towering strelitzia nicolai (White Bird of Paradise). Instead, cut flowers put in simple pots and jars are placed unassumingly here and there, as if they had grown where they sit. The little bouquets are utterly in keeping with the mood that permeates these interiors. This a not a home fashioned to appear collected over time, nor is it one that spins on spotlighting high design. Intentionally fashioned, but not overly dressy, it has looks, but no attitude.
Photography by Monica Spezia.
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