Elements from different cultures meet in this eclectic home in a traditional Lisbon Pombaline building.
In Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, you’ll see plenty of Pombaline style buildings – structures of up to four floors with arcades on the ground floor and balconies on the first floor and attic. This style – the native architecture of Lisbon – arose in the aftermath of an earthquake in 1755, when under the directive of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, marquês de Pombal, the devastated city was revived with these new, anti-seismic buildings which have a strong neoclassical character.
Located within a traditional Pombaline building, this 5,166 square foot, three-storey residence with four bedrooms and two terraces, was the perfect starting point for Lisbon-based interior designer Joana Aranha to create a vibrant and soulful home that marries a diverse range of cultural influences.
“We restored the entire building, reinvented it using references from similar buildings, and revived the memory of the Pombaline architecture through the plasterwork,” she says.
Her clients – a couple who love to travel and collect art and antiques from around the world – gave her and her team absolute creative freedom. Their only request was for the inclusion of a space they could use for hosting events, and as a home cinema.
“We were inspired by our clients’ cultural backgrounds and love for travel. This helped us set the mood for this project,” says Aranha who used a wide range of colours, and materials such as Portuguese tiling, Italian stone, wallpapers, and a collection of antique pieces sourced from around the world to create a beautiful and eclectic home.
Aranha and her team rearranged the floor plan of the interiors, and added new bathrooms, kitchens, doorways, and wardrobes. They also included an elevator for convenient movement.
The interior layout of the residence is similar to a typical London town house. On the first floor is the communal zone, which includes the living room, a kitchen and dining area, a powder room, a front porch, and a small garden. The private zone, which contains the four bedrooms, are located on the second floor, and the cinema and event space the clients wanted are located on the third and topmost floor, which also includes an additional small kitchen, dining room, and two terraces.
Awash in shades of terracotta, ochres, light blues, beige, and other neutral tones, the living room is furnished with a mix of vintage pieces such as an antique French cabinet dating back to the 19th century, and contemporary pieces such as armchairs by Baxter. An artwork by Portuguese artist Gerardo Burmester brings texture and volume to the space, while patterns are subtly woven into the composition with an Andre Du Dauphine fabric upholstered antique armchair and embroidery and printed pillows.
The kitchen features white cabinets with coloured Indian glass handles and custom handwritten details in Portuguese and English, an electric green glass cabinet, and an elongated aged chestnut wood dining table with an embossed mosaic designed by Aranha which is complemented by modern leather armchairs. Above the dining table, five lamps made with recycled plastic bottles add pops of colour to the dining set-up.
“These handmade recycled pendant lamps were bought from a sustainable brand that combines used PET bottles with traditional weaving techniques from different parts of the world. The colours and artisanal touch of these lamps were exactly what we imagined for this space.”
The living, kitchen and dining areas all open out to a bright front porch. On this porch, wooden Sika outdoor furniture is combined with an antique mirror, Eleanor Home wall lamps, and an Aranha custom-designed coffee table that doubles up as a fireplace.
In the dining room, an aged wooden table with embossed brass details and brass legs is paired with black and white striped chairs from Aranha’s signature collection.
The bright and spacious cinema and event space on the third floor, which follows a black and white colour scheme, was conceived as a second living space that looks out to one of the terraces.
“The colour scheme for the bedrooms was informed by different aspects of nature. The predominantly green-coloured master suite was inspired by the Amazon rainforest.”
For the “blue room”, the inspiration was Portugal’s famous blue and white Azulejo tiles. The fauna and flora of Brazil set the tone for the “coral room” where an installation of butterflies on the wall enlivens and adds interest to the concept. And finally, the “patchwork room” is covered with wallpaper in a mix of warm and earthy colours.
The project’s material palette includes Portuguese tiles, worked plasters, various Portuguese and Italian stones, woods, wallpapers, and antiques that come together to create a home that Aranha likens to “an authentic living postcard with influences from around the world”.
“Design as a reinterpretation of cultures is what we do,” she says.
“We used different materials from different cultures such as Moroccan-inspired tadelakt plaster on the walls of the suites’ bathrooms, Italian marbles, Brazilian coconuts that were transformed into lamps in one of the bedrooms, and of course, 18th century Portuguese Azulejo tiles, which we applied in the bedside tables of the blue room. Each room represents a different experience, but the whole house conveys a coherent design narrative.”outside become part of the interiors.