Milan, Italy is very much a metropolitan city and one of the largest in the country. I have come across many people who either love Milan or they don’t. I happen to fall into the “love it” camp since I enjoy all the hustle and bustle the City has to offer. It also has its fair share of historic treasures. To me, its the best of both worlds. The Brera District is located in the historic center of Milan and is fashionably known as the “arts district”. Brera is one of the most desirable areas of the city to live in and is filled with fine museums, chic shops and creative types. Elle Decoration featured the renovated Brera penthouse apartment of couple Antonella Grampa and her husband Angelo, a physicist working in software development. Besides hiring an architect to help rework the floorplan, they also enlisted the help of a landscape architect, which is something not many people would consider for an apartment located in the city. In doing so, they were able to create a lush mini-garden oasis on their patio. I think Antonella and Angelo have found a great way to balance their love for nature with their urban lifestyle. I only wish they featured more photos of their balcony because from what I can see it looks lovely.


For more than 6o years this Italian convent, located in the Tuscany region of Italy, remained vacant. The convent was designed by Antonio da Sagallo the Younger, who was also the creator of the Palazzo Farnese and Villa Madama in Rome.

Holly Lueders and Venetia Sacret Young, a mother and daughter duo, purchased the former convent and converted into their home. They immediately moved right into two of the livable rooms of the 6,500 square foot property. The only heat was from a fireplace and a generator powered four light bulbs and a refrigerator. They were committed to doing much of the renovation work themselves. Talk about dedication!

Here you see the mother/daughter duo on the steps they designed for the space.



I love how the mother/daughter duo hung 20th century Franciscan monk prints on the wall, which appropriately pay homage to the spiritual history of the building. The prints are secured to the wall via simple metal pins. This provides such a unique (and cost effective) alternative to custom framing. Plus, the extensive use of prints across one wall provides a graphic, modern touch to the space.


The fireplace, with its 16th century mantle takes  center stage in this room.


The bathroom was formerly a chapel but is not outfitted with a 19th century ceramic tub and antique plates that are artfully arranged on the wall.

The bedroom was once a kitchen and the walls were treated to give it a “stained” look. The mother/daughter duo took painstaking efforts to achieve just the right mixture of perfectly imperfect stains and finishes throughout their home.

We found out about this abandoned factory in Mount Amiata…and we found all this yellow ochre powder just left there unattended. We took several sacks full of it back to the convent and mixed it with turpentine and linseed oil, and worked it in by hand.   –Holly Lueders


The garden area is planted with roses, jasmine and fragrant herbs. It looks like such a serene space so it’s no surprise that this area once served as the cloister for the prior convent.


Be sure to read the entire article about their home featured in the New York Times. It is fascinating reading.