Who lives here Life and business coach Brunella Guida
Location Matera, Rione Vetera district, southern Italy
Size 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Year built Around1200
Year renovated 1998-2000
Photos by Pierangelo Laterza
For Brunalla Guida, renovating the house meant accepting the complexities that come with an 800-year-old structure and life in the Sassi di Matera. Though she did hire a contractor, primarily to deal with the bureaucratic aspects of the renovation, she conceptualised, designed and carried out most of the project herself. She closed some windows, turned others into doors, and made new hydraulic and electric systems and a new bathroom.
Guida loves eclecticism, so she wanted to create a varied ambiance with a style that can’t be strictly defined. So her house isn’t distinctly rural, modern or traditional, but rather a mixture of all three.
Everything here is rooted in Guida’s personal taste and inspiration from her travels. She brought a lot from her previous house in Rome and bought very few new things. Even more importantly, her own acquisitions are interspersed with presents from friends from all over the world.
During the renovation, Guida realised that a consistent lighting system would be crucial in this wide, high-vaulted space. She consulted architect Alessandra Bia on installing sculptural lighting pieces, such as one in this room from Catellani & Smith (see the metal disc lamp in the first photo).
Neutral colours dominate in the interior. In the foreground, an old chest acquired at the Porta Portese flea market in Rome welcomes visitors. The flooring is old, refinished terracotta tiles.
“This stone was the best deal I got when furnishing the house,” Guida says. “It comes from India, and I got it for free. I went to Gorgoglione, a little village in the Basilicata region [where Matera is also located] that is famous for stone caves, though most of the stone there has been coming from India in the past few years. The people who gave me this stone were about to throw it away, since they thought the fossils visible on the surface were a defect. It was a great deal, and I also really like it.”
The same fabric was used on the two armchairs in the dining room – the corner of the house Guida loves the most – next to a painting her father bought, which holds a lot of sentimental value.
A niche in the wall has been outfitted with cherry shelves and flip-up and pocket doors. It stores dinnerware.
Guida has added a variety of heart- and angel-shaped items throughout the house. In this room, there’s a rare piece of furniture that suits the theme: the Angelo Necessario (Necessary Angel) bookcase by Paolo Pallucco and Mireille Rivier.
This room is the only one that’s almost completely inside the cave, so it’s really cool in summer.
What do you think of this modernised ancient home? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.