A sartorial accent, elegant details, and the odd touch of humor all express the spirit of the artist who’s made this Roman loft her new home and studio. Dubbed Casa B+B, this penthouse apartment, designed by architecture practice Alvisi Kirimoto, sits at the end of an out-of-the-way street in the heart of Rome. With balconies and strip windows, the apartment has views of the Colosseum and the slopes of the Oppian Hills. Inside are custom-made furnishings, and a mood poised between the romantic and contemporary.
Occupying the two top floors of the building, and with 3580 square feet (333 m2) of internal floorspace and 925 square feet (86 m2) of outdoor areas, the apartment was overhauled in response to the client’s brief for spaces that are both functional and welcoming for entertaining her many guests. The architects began by designing a new internal staircase between the two levels of the home. The color scheme also contributes, with shades that, although soft, clearly express the personality of the owner and her home. The materials also contribute here, with the wenge wood used for floors and many details dominating.
The lower level is the more intimate of the two, with the idea of a welcoming embrace beginning right at the front door, with a large entrance space decorated with a designer ceiling lamp in one corner, an armchair, and a brass side table. The semi-transparent front door has a layer of linen between the glass and the wenge wood frame, as do the round door handles, allowing natural light to filter inside. This helps create a more natural feel in this windowless space, while also underscoring the sartorial accent of the project.
Located off the entrance, and closely connected to it visually, one of the most characteristic spaces on this level is the artist’s studio. This space opens onto a comfortable balcony full of flowers and with an external staircase to the upper floor. A true refuge of art and culture, to the right of a console table with a single drawer, positioned to take in the views outside, is a metal-framed bookcase with wenge veneer designed by Massimo Alvisi and Junko Kirimoto. It frames the original bronze fireplace.
Completing this level are the interconnecting lavatory, bathroom, and double bedroom with fireplace and custom-built closets. There’s also a guest room with another bookcase very similar to the one in the studio, also custom-designed by the two architects. A distinguishing element of all the rooms is their patterned wallpaper, some with floral designs that create a dialogue with the city setting, and some with Japanese-inspired elements. Each room, though, is treated as a separate microcosm with its own story to tell and its own mood to convey, which is why different wallpapers were chosen for each, again emphasizing the sartorial accent.
To get to the upper floor, with its decidedly more extroverted character, a naval-inspired staircase was created exclusively from wenge wood – the same timber used for the parquet floors on both levels. This leads directly to the kitchen, with its Carrara marble surfaces, and the dining area. But the heart of the top level is its large open living area with strip windows overlooking the Colosseum. The result of major structural work to free the space of its original columns, the room features a raised wooden platform that encourages you to look outside. And what you see is the famous amphitheater and surrounding landmarks. Your gaze is also drawn outside by the understated design choices to balance the colors, beginning with the new wooden rafters painted white. From a room to the side of the platform, home to a secluded dining table, the gaze is also drawn to the Altar of the Fatherland at the opposite end of the balcony, which in turn overlooks the Colosseum.
“My work is opposed to the idea of standardization. It aims to go beyond the surface, straight to the soul of things. Each element is unique and designed specifically for my client, for the house in which it is located, and for the lifestyle that I imagine inside it. The design is very personal, even the eccentric furnishings are the result of a ping-pong game between the artist who owns the house and me. Some are from her collection, others we chose together. They encapsulate the idea of creating lightness and color, in some cases to amaze guests and welcome them with a smile.” – Junko Kirimoto, co-founder of the practice.
Architect: Alvisi Kirimoto
Custom-made furniture: Alvisi Kirimoto
Photography by Serena Eller Vainicher, courtesy of Alvisi Kirimoto