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July 3, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Summer 2012 issue
An exquisite home with an impressive view
In Malta there are many houses – both old and new – but there is nothing quite like this apartment in Balluta Buildings.
Words: Andrea Christians
Photography: Alan Carville
A complete restoration and refurbishment of the second apartment took place in 2011 under the watchful friendly eye of excellent project manager, Simon Colombo. Again the traditional Maltese floor tiles were laid in the same manner as the other apartment to give a sense of continuity. A large wall mirror on the end wall also adds to this sense of space.
A French Chandelier hangs in the hall along with a number of imposing religious paintings. The owner explained that the paintings hold special childhood memories as a close relative was a member of the clergy and, as a result, she has always felt a close affinity with religious art.
An enormous double family sitting room has been created. Finished in contemporary limestone, this room is almost entirely white and has a minimalist, modern feel to it. The large white upholstered sofas create an atmosphere that is immediately calming making it a great place to entertain and relax with friends. An oil painting of a Valletta Street corner by Peter Heywood hangs on one wall. This room also opens onto the terrace that just like the one of the adjoining apartment has beautiful carved pillars.
There can be no doubt that the owners love to entertain as the kitchen is enormous and again fully equipped with top of the range appliances that are all stainless steel and complement the chic black granite work surfaces. The decor in this room is modern and minimalist in keeping with the kitchen area with contemporary limestone floor tiles throughout.
In the second half of the room one sees storm candles and a large black topped dining table and bentwood chairs with seating for fourteen people making it ideal for large, informal dinner parties. An interesting drift wood wall sculpture hangs above Moroccan mirrors. The kitchen also adjoins the terrace should diners prefer to eat outside with its mixture of cushioned rattan furniture and drop down bamboo blinds should the sun become a little too strong during the day. During the evening, there can be no doubt that it is a wonderful vantage point from which to watch the world go by as the terrace overlooks the triangular Piazza with its fountain, small cafes, restaurants and protected Ballutta oak trees.
The formal dining room in this apartment is predominately green and is surrounded by a library. A traditional Maltese tiled floor is an interesting feature and a distinctive twenty two branch French chandelier hangs above the table. This room, along with the family room, has a state of the art lighting system of tiny star like lights that creates an interesting atmosphere for diners. The entire apartment has intelligent lighting that is the work of Olivia-Ann Calleja.
Four more bedrooms in this apartment make a total of seven bedrooms and six bathrooms between the two. The master bedroom overlooks the bay and has contemporary decor that includes an unusual woven headboard that also lights up. There is also a walk-in wardrobe and ensuite bathroom.
The second bedroom is to the other side of the hall and has twin beds and is more traditional with velvet headboards and the picture of a Regency lady surveying the room. It has a very attractive black marble ensuite bathroom.
There are two single bedrooms that share a bathroom. These are favourites of the owners’ grandchildren. One room has an Empire mahogany and ebonised bateau en lit which is quite enchanting. A Charles X rosewood dressing table and mirror stand next to this bed. The other is more modern and colourfully decorated with pink tulip curtains and is most definitely a perfect little girls room!
Needless to say the property benefits from the latest in modern technology and is double glazed, air conditioned, has solar water heating and a sound system installed in each room as well as an alarm system.
In Malta there are many wonderful homes - both old and new - but there is nothing quite like this apartment in Balluta buildings. There are, of course, certainly wonderful palazzi and historic villas in the villages and special apartments in the fashionable Portomaso or Tigne Point but there is only one Balluta Buildings. Furthermore, this is the only apartment of this era with this amount of floor area in the whole of Malta.
Whilst no expense has been spared, the refurbishment has been done tastefully and in sympathy with the art deco style making this an unparalleled property. The present owners are the first foreigners to have purchased in the building and are committed to maintaining the integrity of preserving what is, after all, one of Malta’s land marks. Indeed, previous owner, the Baroness of Tabria, is herself dedicated to preserving Malta’s heritage with her on going work on Palazzo Parisio.