May 27, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Spring 2012 issue
Villa with views
Words: Deana Luchia
Photography: Alan Carville
This large villa in Ta’ Xbiex manages to be both beautiful and welcoming – a true family residence. Its current owners have called the property home for around three years but it’s actually been in the family for longer than that, having been built by one of their grandfathers. It was then the childhood home of one of the owners before they inherited it.
This history, perhaps, explains why this property has such a warm feel to it. There are a number of renovations and changes that have taken place since the owners moved in but still plenty of original features that must be very familiar to the family and give them a sense of home. The renovations were carried out swiftly as the owners have a keen interest in property – just three months to repaint, change some of the floors, to do new electricity and plumbing and to slightly change the layout.
The house itself in perfectly situated; on a raised position in Ta’ Xbiex with views of the Grand Harbour from the first floor terrace and the roof. With several wide windows in each room, the house is also incredibly light and bright, which provides a nice contrast to so many villas on the island which while large are dark.
Having so much light pouring through the windows works wonderfully with those rooms that are furnished with antiques. The owners have acquired a fine collection of Maltese and English antiques, largely from the Regency period, but have a modern kitchen and bathrooms and a large contemporary-style yard.
The entrance is very spacious – wide and light-filled – and with the open staircase to one side, you get an immediate sense of the size of the property. Each floor is 13 courses-high and this height gives the house an even roomier feel.
The floor still retains its original marble while the wrought iron of the staircase, previously black – was painted white. The wall is decorated with textured wallpaper.
Coming off the hallway there’s the sitting room, a large, sun-filled room, decorated in a very traditional manner with antiques that the owners either inherited or bought specially for this house. While the overall feel is classic, including the glass chandelier and the selection of paintings, there are modern touches including the bamboo flooring and a contemporary sofa that sits across from the antique two-seater with gold cushions. Bringing the traditional and contemporary together is the ‘flocked’ wallpaper from Tanti Interiors.
The dining room is also decorated in a traditional style, with more antiques from the Regency period including a lovely dining table with eight chairs. The rug beneath the table has been in the family for a number of years. The wallpaper here, again from Tanti Interiors, is an attractive grey striped pattern. The linen Roman blinds and silk curtains are from One Two One Interiors. The art in this room includes 18th century oil paintings as well as more contemporary watercolours. On one wall is a very modern-looking heater, both effective and attractive.
The kitchen is larger than it originally was, the owners having knocked through a pantry. This pantry area is now better utilised as a breakfast nook and with a bank of white cupboards there’s still adequate storage space. This room also has a sofa and TV so also functions as a small living room.
The downstairs bathroom has been totally renovated with new white fittings and Travertine marble walls. The wooden shelf under the sink was made by a local carpenter.
At the top of the wide staircase there’s another area which has been turned into a small living room – this house is more than spacious; its hallways as wide as some new-built bedrooms.
The master bedroom is large, light and decorated in a mix of classic and contemporary, with wooden floors, a bed with a leather headboard and some very beautiful Florentine furniture. To one side of the room is a white cupboard with a gold inlay on which sits a large TV. This room enjoys a huge walk-in wardrobe and an equally large en-suite bathroom. Originally there was a door between the walk-in and the bathroom and this was closed and the current door to the bathroom was created during renovations.
The en-suite bathroom has twin sinks and a separate bath and shower.
The children’s room is another large room, decorated with fun furniture in maple and pale blue. The TV unit and cupboards that line one wall were once downstairs in what is now the dining room.
From this first floor there is a terrace with sea views whilst on the ground floor there is a huge yard. The size of the yard was created by removing the footwide stone border that was once the fashion for yards, and then by knocking out the walls of an additional downstairs room. The roof remains and is equipped with a ceiling fan, but this extra space makes for a lovely and unexpected play area. Few houses have a yard of this size. It has a number of ceramic pots with leafy plants in them and a selection of all-weather furniture including a corner sofa and table and chairs.