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Publication in HOMEWORKS

Architecture project architect Simon Grech, designs his and partner Jo’s Valletta apartment all around storage, space and Marilyn Monroe.

It’s a pretty safe truth that a home is a space that reflects the needs of its occupants. Having the right brief is a time consuming and mind hauling affair, but once you’ve truly admitted to what exactly makes you feel comfortable and happy – ‘then you’re in for a wild ride,’ Simon says.

To start with, Valletta was the obvious location for the couple that were searching high and low for a building with a soul, a building that was well lit and above all – structurally intact. As for potential – with a creative eye, Simon and Jo believed that given that the two simple above conditions were met with, then everything had potential. The 18th century house next to the market building and right behind the presidential palace was finally chosen. The previous owner owned bits and pieces of this once grand town house, set on three floors and split into apartments. The second floor was to be their apartment.

“In terms of lifestyle, we wanted the place to reflect the premise – minimal privacy, and maximal intimacy,” Jo says. The entire floor was to act as a whole – they wanted to both relax and entertain all over the area – thus they did away with the concept of rooms and removed most partition walls. The area is now in effect three spaces – a large living space, a smaller sleeping/working area and a wide long hall joining the two.

Since the hall space was of little use, the couple opted to include most of the storage space here – wardrobes, linen cupboards and the library. This created the opportunity to devise the inspirational solution of welcoming guests with rolling blinds that not only function as covers to all the storage space, but also serve as a gregarious exhibition of famous faces, all connected to Valletta in some way; Winston Chuchill, Amber Valletta, Grandmaster La Vallette and Lord Byron.

Cleverly concealed: All around the apartment tiny nooks of space are utilised and maximised for storage. Clean surfaces remove clutter and add to the design concept

Bespoke roller blinds conceal essential living items. Simon and Jo imprinted famous personalities who in some way or another had a connection with Valletta

"The effect proved to be quite astounding. People laugh and gasp when they come in."

By night the living room is transformed into an entertainment area. A fold away table for romantic dinners and a projector for a larger than life setting.

Simon “The effect proved to be quite astounding. People laugh and gasp when they come in. the transition from traditional baroque features in the loggia staircase to the fun feel of the apartment seems to instil a feeling of curiosity, which seems to make our guests curious about what other surprises the rest of the house might be hiding.”

The living space, with two large doors leading to an always brightly lit balcony, is the brightest and freshest area in the house. The theme was low furniture and flexible seating arrangement, which could be shrunk in order to provide an open space for parties. The scheme is essentially a palette of whites so that the area could be seen as a blank canvas, which can change mood by means of different lighting and artwork.

The kitchen was placed in an alcove off the living area and is accessible from both the hall and the living room, complete with a large amount of storage space rising more than three metres and accessed by a sliding ladder. The large island covered in thick stainless steel wraps around a column and serves to connect the kitchen and the living room as one.

Simon “We had the island custom-made because with an apartment with ceilings as high as this, it would have been a pity not to use the full potential the height offered us. This island is like an organ that life seems to circulate around. There is ample surface area to prepare food, serve drinks, hide dirty dishes and the open shelving housing the collection of glassware is always an invitation for friends to help themselves. The idea of maximising easy entertainment and aiding our guests to feel at home was an essential element in the design.”

The back of the apartment contains more personal space, with the change of use defined by a change in design scheme. The custom made terrazzo tiles used in the rest of the place is substituted by a raised platform of warm natural wood parquet and the bed is yet another parquet platform. In front of this and an extension of this platform serves as a bath locked in a horizontal cupboard.

Jo “The idea is that you can theoretically roll from your bed into your bath…”

A small room to the side of the bed is turned into a Moroccan-hammam inspired wet room. The shower is the only area with a crude look, covered in raw cement, spacious enough for a small showerhead and a translucent onyx marble seat.

Jo “The bedroom/study area is all about interaction. The idea is that when one of us is watching TV in bed, we can still hold a conversation, whether or not one is brushing their teeth, surfing the net, reading on the extra sofa, or having a bath… in bed.” A clever study of space creates division without the need of doors or partitions - every space its own experience.

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