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Dream Houses

An Italian palace transformed into a family home

In the dining room, the cedar wood table has been custom made by Vud Design and can accommodate up to twenty guests. Association of Thonet chairs, "60" stool by Alvar Aalto for Artek.

Olivier C. Haas

In Trieste, a couple decided to transform a 19th century palace into a beautiful family apartment. Thanks to the renovation work of the Italian architect Francesca Petz, old and contemporary marry perfectly. A successful restoration, a fulfilled family ... Maison Française Magazine makes you visit this dream apartment in pictures.

The 19th-century Diana Palace is in the heart of Trieste, Italy. Its "noble floor" has undergone a renovation orchestrated by the owners, David Dalla Venezia and Gaia Stock, helped by the architect Francesca Petz. Result: a family home that combines past and present.

There were these beautiful volumes, this generous light. And the story that told the walls of this palace. "The crush was immediate!" Say David Dalla Venezia and his wife, publisher Gaia Stock. A painter known worldwide for his surrealist portraits, David is a Venetian. Gaia, born in a family of industrial triestines, dreamed of finding her roots. Here they are installed in Trieste with their three boys.

"The palace was completed in 1882 for a merchant, Filippo Diana, the only maritime outlet of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Trieste was then a golden age," says Gaia. For the renovation, the couple hired an architect friend, Francesca Petz: "Apart from the layout of the bathrooms, there were few structural changes and on this floor, the distribution of the rooms was perfect."

Restored parquet floors and stuccos, elegant windows overlooking the Grand Canal, the soul of the place has been preserved. "We have respected the constraints imposed by the Superintendency of Architectural Goods: thus the color palette includes shades of white, gray and beige," says Francesca. As for the three lounges in a row, they have not undergone any transformation. "Revisited with simplicity, this patrician house today gives off a luminous, soothing atmosphere.

Family furniture, vintage objects and iconic designer lamps rub shoulders smoothly. The doors of the reception area were lacquered, those of the private spaces stripped and polished. The architect has designed perched rooms, using the ceiling height to create mezzanines to sleep, play, work. And dream.

The idea: turn into a family apartment the "noble floor" of a nineteenth century palace occupied by offices. Location: in the heart of Trieste, on the Grand Canal dug in the 18th century. Area: 330 m2.

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The kitchen was created from scratch with Arclinea furniture. The worktop is illuminated by three "Tolomeo" desk lamps by Michele de Lucchi (Artemide)

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The Grand Canal of Trieste, always navigable and bordered by palaces. The owners of the premises, the painter David Dalla Venezia and the publisher Gaia Stock: "Simplicity has been our watchword, we immediately liked this vast space and imagined that it would be pleasant for our family. We wanted both functional and airy. " Both were very involved in the renovation project.

The masters of the house in the vast dining room.

Olivier C. Haas

Olivier C. Haas

The three adjoining rooms are today an office, the living room and the dining room. The parquet floor has been restored by local craftsmen. Just like the pediments, characteristics of the neoclassical style. The portal, a vestige of a glorious past, leads to the courtyard of the palace Diana where, in the nineteenth century, the teams arrived.

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In the large living room, ceiling moldings and door pediments have been carefully restored. The Chesterfield sofa and armchairs are family furniture. Chandelier by David Chipperfield for FontanaArte. On the back wall, self-portrait of David Dalla Venezia.

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In the dining room, the cedar wood table has been custom made by Vud Design and can accommodate up to twenty guests. Association of Thonet chairs, "60" stool by Alvar Aalto for Artek.

Olivier C. Haas

The long vestibule is dedicated to the passion for reading Gaia, publisher of children's books. Library made to measure, Louis XV sofa and ceiling suspended from Tom Dixon. The oak floor, recent in this part of the apartment, was simply waxed.

Chandelier-sculpture "Forms in Nature" by Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz.

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Olivier C. Haas

Olivier C. Haas

Olivier C. Haas

Bubble of tranquility for the rooms of the three boys who communicate with each other. The ceiling height has made it possible to "throw suspended bridges", explains the architect.

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Each of the rooms is equipped with a mezzazine. Children access their sleeping space (futons) by a ladder. Winks in the nineteenth century, writing desks and school benches found by the hostess.

Zoom on the Gaia library where children's drawings, books and familiar objects coexist.

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On a buffet, a work by David Dalla Venezia, featuring Gaia as heroine of Italo Svevo. In front, a small collection of old bottles.

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The balcony of the large living room is between columns and offers a clear view of the city of Trieste.

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Family portrait: David, Gaia and their three children, Camillo, Beniamino and Teo.

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Map of the renovated apartment in Trieste, Italy

1. Dining room. 2. Living room. 3. Office. 4. Kitchen. 5. Sleeping area (ladders lead to children's beds on mezzanines).

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3 questions to the architect

State-of-the-art restoration has allowed this apartment to regain its former splendor and turn to modernity to comfortably accommodate a family.

What has been the challenge of this apartment renovation project?

Francesca Petz: It was necessary to revive this old palace without distorting it. The restoration work was much longer and more complex than we imagined.

Stucco ceilings, floors, doors, parquet, although very damaged in places had, thanks to their excellent quality, bravely weathered. We, with the help of local craftsmen, reconstructed the missing pieces. And decided to replace the window panes by a double glazing at the same time lighter and especially more resistant to the wind, our famous "bora".

The charm of yesterday seems dusted. What do you think ensures the coherence of the whole?

Francesca Petz: The circulation, very fluid. The color palette. The fact that we had to keep the three rooms in a row, a prescription from the Superintendency of Architectural Properties. And of course, the will of the owners: above all, make it simple! Their choice of contemporary elements, the great attention paid to lighting have done the rest.

If you had to summarize your approach ...

Francesca Petz: I like to define myself as an architect to listen. My clients must be able to recognize themselves in my projects, to know that the house on which I work is theirs and not mine. I immediately hoped that Gaia and her family would have the feeling of living in the Diana Palace forever.

Francesca Petz

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The owners of the place, the painter David Dalla Venezia and the publisher Gaia Stock.

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