Tag Archives: renovation style

The Fortress:: a renovation update from Italy

Ciao! As many of you know, I have been hopping back and forth from the US to Italy while we are closing in on our deadline for our renovation.

This renovation has been in over drive since November 14, 2016. It’s completion date is April 30th. Whatever you have heard about building and renovating in Italy, in this case I would throw it out the window. Our team in Italy has been amazing…no really really amazing. I am gobsmacked how quickly and efficiently this mammoth project is coming along. Granted we still have phase 2 which will commence in May.

I will say, we could not have done it without our designer/project manager extraordinaire Forrest and our Geometra Marco.

I have been hopping back and forth from the US to Italy while we are closing in on our renovation deadline, and today I have a renovation update for you. *Pictured here is the Terracotta finished, and the hand-painted vintage tiles from the 70s will be placed on the banquette as the kick-plate all the way around.

Last week: The new terrace tiles were laid, and I met with the blacksmith to design custom railings and a gate. We also met with a stone mason about marble counters, and stone seating for the wrap around banquette. I can hardly wait to enjoy aperitivo on the terrace with family and friends.

The terracotta tiles will be laid on all the walkways and in the studio space, as well as in the guest quarters’ out building.

Renovation update: our kitchen This is where the Lacanche stove will be, I adore the vintage pale red and greyish creamy checked tiles.

We observed the completion of the bones of the new kitchen. We took out a tiny pantry and bathroom to expand the kitchen, and when finished it will have 2 refrigerators, 2 dishwashers, 1 Lacanche stove and 2 vintage marble sinks. It will also feature vintage tiles, an antique larder, handmade lighting and plumbing fixtures, metal shelves, Carrara marble counters and back splashes, and plenty of copper. Not to mention nonstop sunlight with 3 windows covering all exposures. Needless to say, I am thrilled and excited to start cooking in my new kitchen.

kitchen before Kitchen Before kitchen after Kitchen expanded (hint: the sink is still in the same place)

It was a crazy week, and it went by in the blink of an eye. I’m back for the summer May 4th, so be sure check out my instagram stories; it is going to be a crazy ride to the completion and the finished styling of our spaces.

Grazie tutti xx

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Project Italy :: first things first

zaza by design tumbler

As you know, one of the most exciting renovation projects of my life is on the books this year: our country compound/workshop location in Italy. Eventually this location will be ideal for my style + photography workshops along with varied retreats that will include artistic, spiritual, and life-changing programs with amazing speakers, teachers, and trail blazers from all over the world.

Since buying the Medieval fortress in Italy, I have been compiling all the inspiration that I have been collecting over the years for this epic design project. But first things first…as with all projects like this, the nuts and bolts (aka. the un-sexy projects) must be completed first. I will be posting renovation updates as we go along. To date, here’s what we’ve scheduled for the fall and winter.

  1. New roof on the Studio Barn
  2. New walkways all around the house.
  3. New paver stones on the parking pad – I found the most amazing antique stones.
  4. New roof on the out building and the addition of a car port off the outbuilding.
  5. New Kitchen, guest bath, and Master Bedroom and Master Bathroom, in our living quarters.

In Italy, one must hire a “Geometra.”¬†This is an engineer that acts as a project manager, and the liaison to the city permitting board. Our man on the ground is Marco, and you will be hearing all about him as we move along on this project.

Forrest Spears, my BFF, or as I like to call him my “Gubby” (gay husband), will be working with me designing all the spaces and overseeing the entire project. He and I worked on our flat on the Italian Riviera 12 years ago, and we are thrilled to be working together again on this amazing project. He’s super talented and experienced as he has renovated 3 historical houses in the Italian countryside, in an ancient village, called a borgo. A borgo is a village at the base of a castle, in medieval times, all the people that worked around and in the castle lived in a borgo. It’s a stacked village with endless steps and clustered stone homes. You can see his home here.

Forrest is part of the workshop team and arranges all the excursions and travel for our attendees. He’s a man that wears many hats and wears them well. He’s my man on the ground in Italy, and I am lucky to have him.

Follow along; I will try to post here every month as we progress. Note: I will be posting the new Style + Photo Workshops for 2017 in Italy end of September; we will have many to choose from.

Ci vediamo…Until next time xx



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Tear Sheets: Renovation Style | Charming Atlanta Bungalow

This is a super charming bungalow I styled for Renovation Style last summer. I love the restraint that the home owners used with a clean and neutral palette and lots of white tile and gray wood. It was a dream home for sure. That kitchen is pretty incredible and you can’t really see the “before” picture here but trust me, they gave that kitchen a major facelift. For continuity I injected pops of citrus yellow and grass green into a lot of the shots: lemons in the kitchen, yellow flowers on the table, dried green beans, green grapes, etc. A theme often helps tie a photo shoot together and gives the graphics team something to work with as well.

Check out Renovation Style here.

photography by Richard Leo Johnson

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