Dawn Cavanagh–Hobbs is an interior designer and co-founder of fractional ownership company Appassionata and is in love with interior design. We asked her to share some of her Italian home décor trends, and how to get the look in your own home.
Appassionata offers people the chance to buy a five-week share in a luxury property cocooned in the stunning region of Le Marche. Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs not only finds and organises the restoration of the properties, she is also very hands-on with the sourcing of their furnishings.
So Italy Magazine readers, we invite you to pour yourself a glass of prosecco, sit down and relax and let us transport you to Italy through the eyes of Appassionata.
Once your properties are restored, how involved do you like to get with the interior design?
I am totally involved from the minute we purchase a property. I can see the finished house before we’ve even started the restoration! I guess I work backwards! I also work very closely with our engineer on all our properties. We often have a ‘discussion’ about me wanting to remove a wall or enlarge a window! I am on the road searching for those special pieces of marble and the perfect sofa before we have even finalised the electrical and heating plans.
The houses look like they have some vintage pieces of furniture. Do you have favourite places to buy these?
I love designing individual pieces, and we are blessed to have so many artisans in the area who create wonderful, unique pieces in their workshops. I also spend months driving around looking for that perfect lamp or table. I visit the antiques market every third weekend in Ascoli Piceno; the market is on throughout the year and I love any excuse to visit this special town. During the summer we have an antiques market in Fermo every Thursday and a wonderful three-day antiques fair, L’Antico e le Palme, in San Benedetto in June and August. I regularly stop off at a great second-hand shop in Grottammare. It’s one of those places, if you hit it right, you can find a real bargain. I have also bought some great pieces from Italian Ebay, especially Murano chandeliers, which I have rather a passion for!
Do you have special items you are always on the lookout for?
Chairs and tables with elegantly carved legs and interesting detail. I often buy these but they have been heavily stained, shiny dark brown! I love using various shades of chalk paint and gold leaf to transform them into more elegant pieces of furniture. I also enjoy rummaging around reclamation yards, and over the years I have bought some wonderful Liberty floor tiles and old doors.
What are prices like in Le Marche for second hand items?
There are definitely bargains to be found and I am a very tough negotiator! I found some great bargains on Ebay a few years ago, but the delivery costs are very expensive now. You have to be prepared to put the time in searching online or driving around to find that perfect piece, but that’s all part of the adventure.
Is there as much of a trend for upcycling old pieces as there is in the UK?
Not really, which is great for me! Many of the younger generation prefer their homes and furniture modern. The local Italians love what I do with antique furniture but have never thought about doing it themselves.
Are there many TV programmes and magazines on antiques and crafts, as there are in the UK?
I have certainly seen an increase in the selection of home magazines over the last few years. My favourites are Quin and Casa Chic. I rip out the pages I like and put them in my ever-expanding files, each with its own section of bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, etc. There are very few television programmes in Italian, but I do keep up with trends in the UK.
How can readers get the look at home? Are there any key items or design ideas that they can introduce to bring Le Marche style into their home?
Be confident and don’t be afraid of colour. So many people play it safe, with shades of white and cream, but adding some splashes of colour can really energise a room. Venetian plaster on the bathroom walls gives a lovely soft, marble effect and there’s a great choice of colours now. Natural chalk paint on the walls, Italian tiles on the floor and some marble in the kitchen can give you a subtle Italian feeling. I prefer to have tiled floors throughout – they are much more hygienic and easier to keep clean. In the winter I throw a few rugs on the floors to give a warm, cosy feel. Add to that a couple of pretty Venetian mirrors on the walls, a Murano chandelier, and you have the look.
What are you working on now?
Our latest property, Villa Veneto, has been a joy to work on. I always wanted to include a Liberty Period Villa in our portfolio so finding this unique home was a dream for me, especially as it has three outside terraces, which is very unusual. Choosing the period furnishings and detailing was so exciting and I found the most exquisite Barovier and Toso chandelier to hang from the high ceiling in the hallway. I also managed to find an original dining suite in the liberty style and a very unusual suede-covered ice bucket from the same era. I purchased a number of original pieces of artwork from a local artist and also commissioned him to paint an olive tree with blends of soft blues and greens to tie in with the shades of the living area. I also renovated the underground cellar so owners can store their wine at just the right temperature.
A Passion for Property
We have had so many enquiries recently, we decided to do a video tour and bring Villa Veneto to those who can’t travel to Italy at the moment. I hope you enjoy watching it… we had fun making it.
Appassionata offers an attractive turn-key solution for those looking for an elegant home-from-home in Italy. With an inspiring portfolio of beautifully restored properties, Appassionata offers affordable fractional ownership opportunities for those who want to enjoy a regular taste of Italian life without the stress and worry of whole ownership.
Appassionata is one of Europe’s most successful and inspiring fractional ownership companies offering luxury Italian living. With an impressive track record spanning over a decade, each of Appassionata’s properties has been designed to the very highest specifications. Every property has its unique architectural characteristics, and all enjoy the Appassionata attention to detail and trademark design-led aesthetics.
Find out more here -> www.appassionata.com