Casa RJ, Mantua, Italy


Sometimes we find ourselves contemplating our preferences. Or, let’s be truthful here, that’s all we ever do. We keep re-evaluating our preconceived notions and questioning whether we still like what we used to like, or have we discovered something that has changed our earlier views.


One of the juxtapositions we have always loved – and still do – is mixing old with new. Currently, though, we are considering these options: Do we like old with new accents more than we like new with old accents.


The well-publicized Casa RJ apartment in Mantua pops up whenever we think about this. And inevitably, it helps us veer toward Old with New Accents. There is just something romantic and dramatic about walls and ceilings that have seen and experienced much. So, we think that Old is New Again will continue as one of our favourite topics for years to come.


Casa RJ is located in downtown Mantua, in a building from the early 1500s. Mantova-based Archiplan Studio renovated the entire building, including the 230 square-metre (2,475 sq.ft) apartment.


The designers maintained the original floor plan of the two-level apartment but opened it up by using glass partitions and doors in several places. We especially love the arched glass doorway that offers a full view of the beautiful stairs. It seems like a picture of the staircase, or a mirror image of an imaginary staircase across the hallway.


Similarly, the old exposed old wood ceilings, and the off-white wall and ceiling mouldings do double duty. While being functional, they also act as pieces of art. Our third pick among the many options in this residence is the slatted partition in one of the bedrooms.


Just like the wood ceilings, white mouldings and glass partitions, it also serves as a functional piece as well as a decorative device. And, just like the glass doors and walls, it also divides without forcing a claustrophobic feel.


Because of these intelligent and subtle design decisions, natural light is allowed to perform its magic in each room, and highlight the old and traditional that is so cleverly accented with modern touches. An ideal balance and a great example of the kind of harmony we look for.  Tuija Seipell


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