The view from this house is mesmerising, a patchwork of green of fields and in the distance, the deep blue of the sea. Unsurprisingly, the vista dominates especially as enormous picture windows transform it into living wallpaper, the scene changing with the sun and the seasons. However, the view is only part of the story of this house; take a closer look and other aspects come into play which, together with the view, create a stunning home not just to look at but also to live in.
The property was purchased by architect Bernard Vella’s parents about a decade ago. With their three children now living independently, they wanted to downsize both in space and in the number of objects they were surrounded by. This house, with its view, says his mother, was The One. ‘I could see Mdina from the other house but that was taken away from me,’ she says. ‘I was looking for another view and when I saw this house I didn’t think of anything else but the view.’
On his return to Malta, Bernard re-drew the plans for his parents’ property and the influence of Luigi Rosselli can be clearly seen with the house showing off its curves as soon as you step through the front door – the contours of the ground floor corridor and its floor-to-ceiling glass wall echoed in the shape of the walls of the first floor.
To make the house modern, almost all of it was demolished bar the facade. Here, however, Bernard filled in the existing windows, leaving their decorative architraves, and inserting new ones where he wanted them.
As the old house only had views from the balconies, he detached the large section of the house from the party wall, which while making the house slightly smaller, allowed him to create 180 degree views which are accentuated thanks to the enormous picture windows that straddle the curve of the first floor. The only, but major, stipulation given to Bernard was that the main living area was to be upstairs. ‘I spend most of the day in the kitchen and living room rather than the bedroom so I wanted this living space to be upstairs,’ says Bernard’s mother.
While Bernard preferred to have the living space downstairs, he acceded to his mother’s wishes – she was the client after all! – and so the bedroom, main bathroom and study for Bernard’s father are downstairs while the open-plan living / dining / kitchen space and studio (which converts into a guest bedroom) for Bernard’s mother who paints, are upstairs.
Bernard tailored the interior with the layout. The curving glass wall on the ground-floor gives view of the garden and here Bernard has kept the colours darker. ‘I wanted it to be connected to the earth so here the colour is grey with American walnut cladding,’ says Bernard. ‘Upstairs, it oak, white walls and sandstone so it’s full of light.’
For Bernard’s parents, their new home has been worth the wait. ‘Before we moved here, I got rid of so many things and people warned me that I would miss them,’ says Bernard’s mother. ‘But I don’t. It’s been a real sense of
release. And of course, I have the view that I wanted.’