Wash your walls with colour
Pink, white and Jaffa orange… turquoise seas and palm trees. A shot of Mediterranean colour will give your life a much-needed boost
For those who missed the boat when it came to this month’s lemming-like rush for the ports and now find themselves damp and unwilling participants in a country enveloped in cloud and gripped by Olympics fever – help is at hand. There are two new books that will give you the illusion of being abroad in a sunny part of Europe.
Buy them: they’ll act on the brain like a ray of UV light. Both are photographed by renowned interiors photographer Massimo Listri and show fabulous houses surrounded by palm trees, with glorious views of azure sea.
Mediterranean Home is stuffed with wonderfully extravagant interiors, such as the villa of Dolce & Gabbana in Stromboli, Italy. It also includes simpler designs, such as Salvador Dalí’s former fisherman’s cottage in Port Lligat. The Dolce & Gabbana duo has embraced the idea of leopard-skin soft furnishings, contrasting them with cherubs flying across limegreen plaster walls. And the dining room has been covered with painted rep-resentations of Caltagirone ceramics.
As you’d expect, Dalí’s cottage is, well, surreal. A pigeon loft is surmounted by a plaster egg, with huge wooden forks protruding from each side. Enlarged photos of sea urchins are on the walls under a gigantic oriental umbrella. The Port Lligat house, a couple of hours’ drive from Barcelona in the coastal town of Cadaqués, is open to the public.
Mediterranean Home explains the look. The defining decorative theme is bright, colour-washed plaster walls. At Casa Catastini, in Elba, Italy, pink and white bougainvillea winds its way round a Jaffa orange pigment plaster archway. This tinted, rough plasterwork, so difficult to replicate successfully in Britain, has long been a basic decorative feature of a typical farmhouse in Italy and Greece.
At the Villa l’Olmo near Argentario in Tuscany, in the Italian Home, a mustard tint running into deep plum has been applied below the original beams. But it doesn’t feel claustrophobic and hot, rather dark and shaded – a welcome escape from the bright sunlight outside.
For those who could afford it, murals and trompe l’oeils were an essential part of a smart, fashionable interior. Particularly wonderful in the Italian Home book is Villa de Domo Alberini in southern Umbria. The 18th-century dwelling, a few kilometres from Spoleto, has exceptional wall paintings and is well worth a visit. A small room is painted with a woodland scene that includes local birds, while the walls of an attic depict scenes of daily life in a convent of the contemplative order of Poor Clares. There is even a virtual pharmacy decorated with painted and named potion and herb containers, and vases bearing the family coat of arms. This impressive villa was conceived not so much as a family home but as a place to entertain and impress guests.
Mediterranean Home by Massimo Listri (Thames & Hudson, £22.50).
Italian Home by Massimo Listri (to be published on 28 August by Thames & Hudson, £27.50).
For opening times of the Dalí House, go to www.salvador-dali.org/museus/portlligat
To visit Villa de Domo Alberini, call +39 0743 223 806 or go to www.dellagenga.it
Daily tip from the lady archive
"BE careful with your mouth make-up. By careless work you may obliterate well-cut lines, and you will always achieve a badly groomed look if your lipstick is smudged and badly applied."The Lady, Make-Up for Mouths, 8th January, 1942