Villa Guglielmesca, Tuscany, Italy

Villa Guglielmesca is situated near the town of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo in Tuscany. While the prevailing character of Cortona’s architecture is medieval Renaissance, the villa itself dates back to the beginning of the 1900s. Originally a private house, it was transformed into a hotel with 12 bedrooms in the 1950s before being purchased by the current owner.

 

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Villa Guglielmesca, Cortona, Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy (in 2020 before work started)
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The View from the Villa

In 2010, Artichoke was commissioned directly by the owner to reconfigure the villa and make it function again as a private residence. This has involved extensive interior architectural design work by Artichoke’s creative team and includes designing the architecture and furniture for the entrance hall, master bedrooms, bespoke Tuscan style kitchen, dining room, butler’s pantry, boot-room, guest and master bathrooms, ballroom, interior architectural joinery, doors, skirting and floors.

 

Front Entrance Door

The front entrance door was designed taking inspiration from the architecture of local Tuscan vernacular. Our initial design below proposed the door as European Walnut, although the door is now more likely to be hand painted. The exterior elevation on the left shows the stone architrave which will be in Pietra Serena to match the Tuscan columns and the fireplace found in the Tuscan style kitchen. Pietra Serena is a beautiful grey Tuscan sandstone which was used by Michelangelo in the Medici Chapel Romeare.

 

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The splayed reveal August 2014, ready for plastering

Entrance Hall Design

Below is the Entrance Hall as it existed while Villa Guglielmesca was a hotel. As you can see, the existing interior architecture of the villa required significant design work. Our initial focus was to research and gain a thorough understanding of local vernacular to create an appropriate space for family living.

 

The Villa’s entrance hall when it was a hotel

The images below show the approved Artichoke re-design of the entrance hall with twinned Etruscan columns supporting the vaulted ceiling and hiding the re-enforced concrete columns. The stone we decided to use for the columns are made from Pietra Serena.

 

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Artichoke’s re-design of the entrance hall

 

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Plans show Artichoke’s architectural plans for the main hall

 

Bespoke Kitchen Interior Design

Artichoke’s design team also introduced the groin vaulted ceiling detail used in the entrance hall to the principal bespoke kitchen as both a device to architecturally tie the two ends of the vast space together and to frame the large open fireplace (also designed by us).

 

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The Villa’s kitchen space taken back to brick

Inspiration for the bespoke Tuscan kitchen design in Villa Guglielmesca was taken from typical Tuscan agricultural furniture design. The primary timber being used for the kitchen is French oak. The oak on the island was bleached and the oak for the pan-shelves were fumed to age them. The breadboard island tops were made from wild-grain European walnut which we sourced in Italy. The arched doors on the end of the island, which is plastered, are made from solid oak, and roughly hand planed across the grain with a curved plane blade to create an aged effect to match the Tuscan style kitchen. The glazed dresser doors close on traditional espagnoletes.

 

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These images are renders or computer generated representations of the designs which are part of our process. They enable all involved to see the current plans in a 3D format. They show the two brick islands in the Tuscan style kitchen finished in rough finish lime render

Boot Room Design

In addition to the villa’s Tuscan style kitchen, Artichoke designed a simple and authentic boot room for the private residence. Artichoke’s design teams have designed numerous bespoke boot rooms for country properties and apart from plenty of storage, a key aspect to most successful boot room designs is combining practicality with simplicity. Boot rooms get a lot of wear. They get dirty and are more loved for their practicality than their looks, mainly because most of the fitted furniture becomes draped in coats, hats and scarves, and eventually much of it becomes invisible. Artichoke designed the villa’s boot room with drainage at the centre of the room to allow mud to be washed and brushed away.

 

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Artichoke’s renders (computer generated designs) for the villa’s boot room

Kitchen Fireplace

Artichoke designed the fireplace in the Tuscan style kitchen and surround as a multi-functional space, and it is far from simply decorative. A chargrill has been designed on the right hand side, with the left reserved for open fires and spit-roasting meats. The stone for the surround is Pietra Serena.

 

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Shows the Artichoke designed fireplace being prepared in tandem with the groined ceiling in the tuscan style kitchen, also designed by Artichoke.

Interior Architecture

There are nearly 100 individual features designed by Artichoke inside Villa Guglielmesca, including coffered ceilings, fireplaces, windows, columns, doors and stone architraves. A few examples can be seen below:

 

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Construction in progress of the groined ceiling in the Villa’s Limonaria

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Pietra Serena stone architrave being set into the Villa walls
One of the Artichoke designed Pietra Serena window surrounds

 

Installation Phase

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Artichoke’s European walnut vanity unit with walnut mirrors. The marble to be added will be Carrara
The Villa’s exterior showing the Pietra Serena windows and door frames designed by Artichoke. The shutters were make locally

 

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Walnut skirting was designed for the dining room
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Artichoke designed this simple linen store. Note the detail in the clay tiles at the threshold of the door

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The Completed Project

This project can be found in full by visiting our website. A selection of images from the completed project are below. With each project, whether a kitchen or a whole house, we aim to create fitted furniture of lasting value, adding architectural value to our clients’ houses for their family and for future generations. We aren’t simply making joinery. We are making history.

 

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To discuss your project, email the Artichoke team at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call on +44 (0)1934 745270.

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