Strike it Rich

Kate de Cesare is very much a maximalist. Not for her coolness of an all-white space – instead her home in Lija is a decorated in rich colours and patterns with chandeliers, antiques and luxury materials coming together to create a home that is a visual feast. ‘I prefer warmer shades; they make for a cosier feel, and they work well when lifted with gold,’ she says. ‘And my husband and I like antiques, mixing them with quirky and modern pieces to create a look that is interesting and fun, but also comfortable.’
It helps that this three-bedroom house is full of light which allows the colour palette to sing, rather than the colours absorbing all the light making a too-dark space. It was the light, and the original staircase with large steps and wrought iron balustrade leading to the top of the house that made Kate and husband, Andrea chose this 18th-century house for themselves and their two young daughters. ‘We liked its location, on one side of the village’s the prettiest streets,’ says Kate.
The house has been uninhabited for many years, and it took them two years to complete its renovation. ‘It’s a well-built house, but we had to gut it completely and start again with new wiring and plumbing, and we were careful with how we did it – the wires don’t cut through the stone but through the mortar joints,’ she says.
The layout was done with the help of designer Michael Trapani Galea. On the ground floor, they brought down walls to create a more open-plan space which made it more compatible with modern living. ‘With two small kids, it allowed us to be all together even if we were in different areas downstairs,’ says Kate.
Removing the flooring at the front of the house revealed a surprise. ‘We discovered that our cellar had lovely original arches hidden by a concrete ceiling. It also had access to the war shelters and a tunnel that went past all our neighbours – we’ve now closed it off – that leads all the way to the church,’ says Kate.
The couple were painstaking in their endeavours. The original flagstones in the bathroom and hallway were lifted and numbered and then re-laid after all the plumbing was carried out. In the kitchen, layers of wall were removed to give more space for the kitchen units from Fino. ‘Throughout the process, we gave ourselves extra tasks, but we just wanted to do the best we could,’ says Kate. And it shows.