Looking at it now, it’s impossible to imagine this home as it once was – a rundown farmhouse, many of its rooms used to house animals. But the original building had charm, and this needed to be kept. ‘The biggest challenge was to conserve the original building while making the place habitable,’ says architect Maria Mercieca of m+design. ‘Crucial to keeping this old building’s authenticity and character was deciding which walls to preserve and clean up (some walls were packed with soil and pointed using ‘deffun’) and which to plaster using traditional and natural products. Building a proper drainage system that ran below the house and allowed water to seep naturally was also a major task.’
The chic finishing touches came towards the end of a seven-month long renovation that saw the rundown and dated property into one that is thoroughly modern and designed to work for the family that includes two young children.
The homeowner also wanted her home to have an uplifting feel of openness and lightness. ‘This sense of spaciousness and visual continuity was achieved by constructing a glass skylight to close
off a large outdoor space, making it habitable and also linking it to existing outdoor rooms,’ says Maria. ‘The choice of using white as the dominant colour, contributes to creating this mood and a variety of textures create a sense of interest in a very subtle way, so as not to detract from the feel of openness while creating visual continuity between indoors and outdoors.’
A mix of carrara marble and white timber floors is elegantly neutral, the different textures also creating different zones within the property’s expansive footprint. Beneath the double height central space, the glass ceiling bringing a contemporary feel to the historic building, is the sunken, open-plan living area that’s equipped with custom storage and a bespoke built-in entertainment centre, with large glass doors that open out onto the terrace.
The kitchen is located on the ground floor, just off the central living area and is made cosy in winter by the existing traditional fireplace that has been incorporated into the design. A bespoke unit above that acts as a book case is cleverly designed to hide the fireplace flue. Artificial lighting in the unit creates a warm light which brightens the dining area and kitchen. With so much open social space in the home, a semi-secret mezzanine nook at the opposite end of the kitchen comes as a welcome surprise – a room to escape to read or to work, that seemingly floats at first floor level. Another, smaller, cooking station is positioned nearer the patio doors to make entertaining outside as convenient as possible. Here, too, is a small room used as a gym, and a large marble accented bathroom that boasts original features and exposed stone.
The living space sweeps out into a pale concrete pool area, complementary materials ensuring a smooth transition between the two spaces. Custom outdoor lighting highlights the rough beauty of the Maltese limestone walls while the concrete gives a tactile smoothness. Reflecting the building’s heritage are mature olive, orange, almond and pomegranate trees, alongside a backdrop of restored stone walls.
The upstairs is reached by a stone staircase that has been painted with a white breathable resin, but with traditional Maltese wrought iron railings for a nice mix of old and new. A mezzanine walkway winds around the light and airy first floor rooms and views of the surrounding countryside make each of the three bedrooms a quietly luxurious place to wake. The master bedroom features a marble and glass cube that houses a sleek en suite bathroom, while another bedroom is given a splash of colour in the form of an en suite in a vivid green-blue mosaic. A studio room is a creative refuge for the farmhouse’s owner and another private space in an otherwise truly family-orientated property.