Vibrant Designs Juxtapose The Historic Bones Of This Early-20th-Century Retreat

The first things that Anna Maria Enselmi noticed about the 1900s-era villa near the old port in Castro Marina were its ancient stone staircase and the large rosemary plant near the front door. Then she saw the views of the Adriatic Sea from nearly every room. Indeed, it felt like being on a ship. Boasting such a panorama and a lush Mediterranean garden, the home seemed like an ideal retreat for Enselmi, her husband and their two children from their hectic lives in Milan.

It was also an opportunity for Enselmi — who runs a Pilates studio — to exercise her creative mind. She was a young girl when she became enchanted by design. When she began working in Milan after college, she put money aside so that she would be able to acquire the sort of original pieces she so adored.

Such sculptural, colorful artworks can be found in the family’s seaside escape. “I like to call this a joyful house,” Enselmi shares. “It brings together everything I have always loved: furnishings, colors and materials choices follow a mood completely free from the diktat of the perfect matching.” She adds, “Living amid art and design has become an innate part of my being and an integral aspect of my character.”

Inspired by Ettore Sottsass’ vibrant designs, Enselmi has imbued every room with color, many with the architect’s iconic pieces. (Her first major design purchase was Sottsass’ famous Carlton bookcase by Memphis). For example, the designer is the source of the graphic area rug, sculpture and colorful totem in the spacious formal living room.

“I am continually amazed by the collection of Sottsass’ historical pieces I have acquired over time,” she admits. “Each piece holds a cherished memory, imbuing my home with a sense of history and a deeply personal connection to the world of art and design.”

While Sottsass is the star of the show, the home also features work by many important designers. Lighting by Louis Poulsen can be found throughout, and the dining area includes pieces by Ignazio Gardella, Ico Parisi, Luigi Caccia Dominioni and Nao Tamura. Many, such as the green cabinet by Pietro Consagra in the living room, walk the line between form and function. “I’ve always been drawn to colorful works,” Enselmi explains. “I couldn’t imagine living in an entirely gray or beige home, as it would feel soulless to me.”

The vibrant palette flows throughout the interior: A colorful area rug with stripes, polka dots and white fringe creates a boisterous backdrop for twin beds with citron-green bedding and pillows in the guest suite. And sky-blue accessories accent the light walls, flooring and bedding in the primary suite. Clad in Carrara marble, the en suite bathroom includes a soaker tub and French doors that open to a covered patio. “I spend entire afternoons here with my mum, doing our makeup and chatting,” she admits.

In fact, the house is an ideal retreat for family or friends to come together. Enselmi often invites her pals to stay there and watch over the place when she and her family must return to their day-to-day lives in Milan. She isn’t surprised that people enjoy spending time there. “Wherever you turn, you can see the sea,” she describes, “a destination we all voluntarily return to time and again.”

Photography by Helenio Barbetta.

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