A Colorfully Modern Whimsical Home in Rome

updated Feb 19, 2019

A Colorfully Modern Whimsical Home in Rome

updated Feb 19, 2019
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Home Type
Square feet
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Name: Danny and Zac
Location: Rome, Italy
Size: 900 square feet
Years lived in: Owned. Lived in since April, but it’s been in the family for over 60 years!

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Danny writes: “This apartment used to belong to my grandparents, and then my parents took over the rent, and now my husband and I are living in it with our mini dachshund. Three generations (and counting)! It’s a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment on the third floor of a residential building in the center of Rome. The whole home was interior designed by my husband and I —a blend of mid century modern, timeless design, and lots of color. Since it’s in Italy, we tried to infuse some Italian style in there, too.”

Danny continues: “Our favorite part of the home is the living/dining room. It was designed to be bright, colorful, and with conversation in mind.

The dining table is a danish design, and very old! It was the first piece of furniture my grandfather ever purchased. We very carefully sanded it down and re-oiled it to bring out the gorgeous golden amber color of the wood. The bright yellow chairs are an Italian design, sold by Calligaris. Above the dining table is a stretched canvas of a photograph I took in the woods behind our home in Tuscany. We got it printed and decided it worked better in three parts, bringing a real dimensionality to the woods, so we cut it up and stretched it ourselves to bring some atmosphere and carry through the blue elements in our home.

The coffee table in the living room was also home-made. We found a gorgeous slab of marble that used to be in my parents’ kitchen before they renovated, and because we loved it so much, we purchased four large industrial wheels (surprisingly hard to find!) and cement-glued them to the bottom of the marble. Stylish, unique, and functional, too! Instead of sheer curtains, we decided to upgrade our look and use sliding panels (a take on the Japanese Shoji screens), because they are super easy to remove and throw in the wash, plus they’re fun, modular, and a little bit theatrical (we love rearranging them and coming up with new layouts). The Wassily chairs, which were inspired by the frame of a bicycle, have been in my family for decades thanks to my dad’s love for architecture and design.

To get a textured grey wall, we mixed white sand in with smokey grey paint, and painted it on thick with no particular rhyme or reason to create an organic look that was anything but! Our favorite part about the whole living room: the Mondrian-style art piece that we painted ourselves, using an old headboard, tape, and a love for modern art. It was an easy and inexpensive way to tie in the colors from the house, and make a bold statement.

Other favorites from around the house include: the fun bedside lamps in the master bedroom, which you can position to create different characters, and our signature book stack in the guest room. We love using the Sapien Bookshelf from Design Within Reach; it’s a space-efficient and unique way to store your books, while bringing great color and texture into a room.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Stylish, colorful, whimsical, elegant, and FUN.

Inspiration: 1961. Mid-century modern. Scandinavian design. Danish modern. Bauhaus. Modern art. Clean lines. Good design.

Favorite Element: The huge windows on three sides, and the natural light and refreshing cross-breeze that come with it.

Biggest Challenge: The bookshelf! We used reclaimed Malian wood, which is incredibly hard. It took us both a full week of stripping varnish, sanding down, and re-staining to complete it. But we love the effect it brings to the room.

What Friends Say: Every time our friends come to our apartment, they tell us it feels like stepping into a DWR catalogue, or being on the set of Mad Men (both of which we are very okay with!)

Get the look! → Colorful, Modern & Whimsical

Proudest DIY: It’s a tie between our Mondrian-style painting, and the marble coffee table on wheels.

We knew we wanted a big-scale art piece for the living room, and an old headboard that we were going to throw out was the perfect size and shape. One roll of tape and a few small cans of paint was all we needed to create a bold statement (and a great way to tie in the various colors we had been working with throughout the home).

When we found a big slab of marble in my parents’ basement, we knew we had to incorporate it somehow. We were struggling to find a coffee table that fit our space, so we decided to add a whimsical touch by fixing large industrial wheels to the bottom of the marble slab. The result was not only fun and functional, but we love having a piece that is literally one-of-a-kind.

Biggest Indulgence: We always tend to indulge on great lighting — we’re big believers that lighting can make or break a space. We might have gone a little overboard in this home: A FLOS lamp that hangs on a tension cord, an over-sized Pixar lamp, wire track lighting, wall sconces, filament bulbs, bedside lamps with personality…We wanted each space in the home to be highlighted, elevated, and brightened by the lighting. We even re-wired the overhead lighting in the kitchen and the bedrooms with a red chord to bring in a pop of color.

Best Advice: Restrictions foster creativity. Something that’s always been true for us. We love making things out of what we already have, repurposing old pieces, and recreating looks we can’t afford. Often times, our limited budget has led us to create some of our favorite pieces that we’ll cherish forever.

Also, infuse color in every room.

Dream Sources: Design Within Reach, BoConcept, Dwell, Architectural Digest, CB2, Marimekko, Normann Copenhagen, MoMA Design Store, fun vintage pieces (you never know where you’ll find them), and lastly: our basement.


Leroy Merlin—”Zinc” color (with added white sand for texture)

Sideboard — Maisons du Monde
Artisan mirror — handmade by a friend in Uganda
Wardrobe coat hanger — Authentics
Yellow vase — Maisons du Monde
Bamboo bowl — IKEA
Pinworld Map — Palomar

Oversized Pixar Lamp — Lightbox
Wassily Chairs — DWR
Rug — IKEA
Poufs — HomeScapes
Accent pillows — IKEA
Side tables — Maisons du Monde
Parentesi light — FLOS

Basil dining chairs — Calligaris
Table runner — vintage
African sculpture – From an artisan market in Mozambique

Kitchen table — made by my dad to match the kitchen counters
Basil dining chairs — Calligaris
Orange pots and pans — Bialetti
Tea kettle — AlessiYellow plates — UPIM
Lola sconce — Y Lighting
Button humidifier — Tuttaluce Design

Beside lamps — DALANI
Bed frame and headboard — IKEA
Bird paintings — my mom’s paintings
Yellow rug — IKEA

Bunk beds — IKEA
Red rug — IKEA
Edison bulb with cord — DIY
Sapiens bookshelf — DWR
White chair — IKEA

Thanks, Danny & Zac!

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