Decorating a Vacation Apartment in Rome
My sisters Pat and Lisa run Italy Perfect Vacation Rentals. Lisa was in Rome last week and asked me to join her for a few days to help finish decorating the Rome Lombardia apartment. The chance to catch up with Lisa and visit Rome was too tempting to turn down.
We lived in Rome in during the 1960's and 1970's when our father was on an international assignment.
I fell in love with Europe as a teenager and vowed that I would come back to live one day. I’ve been blessed that my dream has come true. I was transferred to London after graduate school, met a crazy French heart surgeon on vacation …. and the rest is history. We founded Paris Perfect vacation rentals in our favorite city in the world.
Italy Perfect's New Apartment
We stayed in Italy Perfect's new Lombardia Roman apartment rental just off the Via Veneto, literally one minute from the fabulous Borghese Gardens. It’s a short walk to the top of the famous Spanish Steps.
We worked hard for three days, including numerous trips to a hypermarket-hardware store on the outskirts, locating supplies, tracking down decorative accessories and hanging artwork. Lisa and I joked a lot, which kept us from going into a state of panic given the mountain of work ahead and only a few days to accomplish a lot.
The owners of the apartment are longtime friends, a delightful couple who, after much discussion, left the decorating to us. Their tastes are more Italian than ours; they gave us leeway to select for them the sofas, rugs, bedspreads, pictures and accessories. On the practical side, they are ideal for guests, as they live nearby and have thought through everything to make guests comfortable — from free wireless internet to welcome goodies, good lighting (rare in Italy and France), American plugs and quality linens. The apartment is very comfortable, with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and the bonus of being in a great location.
The Before and After Transformation
We could see the potential when the apartment was purchased and the location was unbeatable.
First step was to replace the tired furniture.
The walls were over 12 feet high, and would swallow up small pictures. Finding large pictures was a priority.
We found beautiful pictures in tones that matched the cushions. The main picture above the sofa is from a Renaissance fresco in Siena's Town Hall known as the “Effects of Good Government”. Just last month embattled Italian President Berlusconi staged a press conference in Siena standing in front of the fresco to convince Italians that he represented the best alternative as President of Italy, despite his current legal problems. Tall lamps, brown sisal rug and simple coffee tables… the living room was transformed.
Our challenge was to create a warm and welcoming apartment. We knew this apartment had great potential.
With a large mirror hung horizontally above the desk and three beautiful black and white photos, the far wall was a success.
Walking into the living room from the entryway… ecco, finito! It's now an inviting home for a vacation stay in Rome!
The Dining Area
We retained the original dining table, chairs and handsome corner cupboards. Our job was to make it an inviting room.
The second bedroom was similarly sad when the owners purchased the apartment. Lisa chose pale blues and white on the new beds. These beds are similar to what we use in our Paris Perfect vacation apartment rentals. Beige headboards and pale curtains added to the soft look.
Liliana, the owner, walked into the room after we'd finished and gave Lisa a huge hug and kiss. ‘Sei un amore!', she cried to Lisa. The smile on her face made all the hard work worthwhile!
Small Balcony Off Dining Room
The little balcony off the dining room has a closet where the washer and dryer are installed. It offers a nice breeze and a small vignette of Roman life in the courtyard.
Work in Process
Apartment finished: Time to Explore the Neighborhood
After we finished, we had an afternoon to play. It was a walk down memory lane as we shared stories and revisited old haunts. Paris has won my heart but my four day break in Rome during beautiful April weather was heavenly. Enjoyed seeing flowing fountains with water from ancient aqueducts everywhere.
Took a short stroll one evening to the Spanish steps to enjoy the view at sunset. The Roman sky was beautiful, turning from blue to pink, as the lights came on in Rome.
We bought delicious stuffed tomatoes, eggplant parmigiana and dessert at the bakery/delicatessen located across the street from the apartment and ate at home, toasting our hard work, relaxing in the Lombardia apartment and laughing at the many anecdotes we remembered.
I went for a run one morning in the gardens and will never forget it. No traffic in the Borghese Gardens, only a quiet electric bus, a few runners and cyclists and the rest was all for me to savor. I stopped so often to take pictures that any exercise was forgotten.
Next was a return to our old shopping haunts, from Via del Corso by the Spanish Steps to Via Cola di Rienzo near the Vatican. Like Paris, store windows in Rome make you drool.
The French and the Italians set the fashion trends. Blue is a new color this season.
Lots of fun memories such as re-visting the store where I bought a floor-length ‘Maxi coat' in the 1970’s; at the time I felt like the most fashion forward person in my college . Bought a darling pair of ballet-style flats, then realized the shoe store was our mom's favorite shoe shop, seemed very “old lady” back in the 1970's but just right for us now!
Rinascente and Coin are the main department stores now. Our daughters would love the nail polish selection above!
One of my favorite stops is to the local grocery store. Although it's small, the store devoted an entire aisle was to olive oil. I bought a dozen packages of instant risotto with porcini mushrooms to carry home and fun ‘instant' sorbet ice cream in small packages. You shake the package, put in freezer and eat the next day. It was delicious.
Dining A La Romana
A high school friend who still lives in Rome and does the greetings at several of Italy Perfect's apartments, recommended a superb restaurant a few minutes walk from the apartment between Via Veneto and Piazza Barberini: Ristorante Tullio. Had a divine lunch there. Artichokes and asparagus in season, grilled fish, zabaglione with strawberries for dessert… We were the only foreigners there, surrounded by Italians.
Today, the internet has made it possible for many of us to work from almost anywhere, offering an amazing opportunity to experience life at a different pace. To cherish mornings spent walking through old cobblestone streets, visit an art exhibit, to shop at an open air market for local food specialties, have a leisurely caffe' outdoors and savor the sights and sounds and watching people. Whether wandering along the rue Saint Dominique in Paris, the back streets of Rome, in London's East End or in a small town in Normandy… these special moments become imprinted in our minds.
Arrivederci Roma! I didn't throw any coins in the Trevi Fountain, but I am already planning a return trip with the family next fall.