Space of the Week: Venetian Surprise

Venice is a city full of secrets, something you only truly appreciate when you explore what hides behind the ancient walls of its narrow, canal-framed streets. Last week, I was treated to such an insight when I met with architect Raffaella Bortoluzzi, who showed me her apartment in a fifteenth-century building in Castello, a neighborhood not far from the Piazza San Marco. About a decade ago, Bortoluzzi spent two years renovating the space, but she’s back at it again, currently repairing this staircase. Bortoluzzi is known for her ultramodern interpretation of classical structures. She recently completed the Hampton Bays residence of designer Muriel Brandolini and her husband, Nuno. Muriel was left so “dangerously happy” with the result she never wants to leave her home! Photo: Wendy Goodman

A view of the living room. A previous tenant concealed the exposed wood beams with a dropped ceiling. Bortoluzzi removed the ceiling and preserved the natural look of the wood with a clear polyurethane base. She treated the steel panels on the back wall to a lick of glossy white paint. When you slide the panel shut, the shadow increases, thanks to the light fixture attached to the wall. The upholstered furniture is by Edra, and the side table is an Eileen Gray. Photo: Wendy Goodman

This fireplace was revealed when Bortoluzzi removed an artificial wall that had been added by a previous owner. The graceful mantle anchors the room and draws attention to the windows. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Maurizio Pellegrin used an image of map of Venice as the canvas for this piece of art. The wooden object on the left of the work, which hangs in Bortoluzzi’s living room, is an original hand-sculpted fixture traditionally used to secure the oar to a gondola. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Bortoluzzi designed this blackened steel dining table and had it fabricated by a local metalworker. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The fire-engine-red kitchen cabinets are all ” Ikea! Bortoluzzi designed the central island, the marble-topped table is by Saarinen, and the metal chairs are by Bertoia. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Bortoluzzi peers through the study door at another of her designs, bookshelves made by a local artisan. Photo: Wendy Goodman

At the other end of the study, a Bortoluzzi-designed light fixture made from the rods used to blow Murano glass. Photo: Wendy Goodman

A gondola gliding through the liquid street, as seen from the study window. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Simple perfection in the master bedroom. The headboard and bedspread are both Marimekko fabric. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Colorful Murano-glass doorknobs that the savvy Bortoluzzi repurposed as coat hooks. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Space of the Week: Venetian Surprise