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December 8, 2021

Remodelling her own home with a gifted eye for design

With Angelique Cutajar Cefai, an up-and-coming interior designer.

It is truly inspiring when a person manages to develop and finalise a design project purely through natural talent. Carrying out a complete overhaul of one's own home personally is an achievement to be proud of. And that is exactly what Angelique Cutajar Cefai did when, between 2019 and 2020, she completely redesigned and renovated her family home, using her creative eye for interiors.

A devoted wife and mother of one in her 40s, Angelique spent twenty years of her life working at Air Malta as a ground hostess, where she tended to passengers’ needs and demands as they passed through the airport. It was a cherished time and left her with happy memories, but there came a point when she felt she had to leave the airline and try something new. Her wish was to follow her inherent aspiration for interior design and dedicate more time to it.

For Angelique, interior design is like fashion trends for the home.

“I just love fashion!” declared Angelique. “I have a deep-rooted passion for glamour and style. And it doesn’t stop at clothes and shoes! Interiors and décor have always intrigued me. Even as a teenager, I was forever redecorating my room. I loved moving the furniture around and adding accessories to create different layouts and patterns.”

The one gift Angelique has always possessed is the ability to visualise the final outcome of the space she is decorating. Irrelevant of the amount of work required, she can always create a mental picture of what needs to be done and how it would look when it is finished.

Merely something as simple as wrapping a present is an artistic creation for this promising interior designer. Even before she made this her career, friends always flocked to her for advice whenever they wanted to look good or embellish their home in some way. Furthermore, her decision to embark on an extensive re-designing project at her own abode was only possible due to her innate skills and finesse.

Completely renovating her family home was a tough but impressive undertaking which Angelique conceived from start to finish.

She mused over what drove her family to go through with it. “Our wish was to upgrade and enlarge our living space. We wanted to make it more spacious and practical whilst keeping it homely and comfortable. Our intention was to turn our one-storey apartment into a duplex penthouse.”

The new plans placed the bedroom quarters on the lower floor, complete with ensuite bathrooms and a walk-in closet. This allowed Angelique the possibility of incorporating the living space upstairs with a sizeable rooftop terrace. The spacious open-plan kitchen, dining, and living area included wide, glass-panelled sliding doors which brightened up the whole room. These led out into an elegant outdoor area, with comfortable sofas and soft cushions.

“My wish was to satisfy my individual drive for creation and use it to redesign our home into a place where we could live in comfort,” said Angelique. “Having said that, it was not an easy transition. We had to move out of our home for almost a year during this time. It was a major upheaval, but it was worth all the work and effort to make it what it is today.”

Who or what influences Angelique when she is designing interiors?

“I adore travelling,” she stated, “and one of the countries which inspires me the most is Italy. It is the go-to place for everything, from food to art to luxury cars, but most especially for its world of fashion. Everywhere you go – shops, restaurants, hotels, boats – the interiors are so striking, and the detail they go into is in a class all by itself. And of course, one cannot mention Italy without paying tribute to one of their top designers and fashion guru – Armani!”

Affirming her love for all things Italian, Angelique recreated various elements from this neighbouring country in her home renovation. When choosing wallpaper, Angelique opted for three different styles from the Versace range.

The marble she used was the infamous Calacatta marble, a rare type which is only available from one single quarry found in Carrara in northern Tuscany. This distinctive marble with its soothing white background integrates strong, unstructured veins with a range of colours, including gold and beige. This makes it a striking and highly sought embellishment for any space.

Angelique is always keen to experiment with different colours and materials.

“I am adventurous when designing interiors,” she smiled. “My forte is my ability to take up the challenge, mix and match various concepts, and create an original work of art. When choosing accessories and soft furnishings, I am able to understand how colours and patterns go together and single out items that complement the space and make it pop.”

“I have a particular preference for white. It's so versatile. White gives me a clean slate which I can use to emphasise any concept. As you can see, I used white everywhere at home. It allowed me to add touches of greenery and nature to the house. These environmental elements are uplifting and provide a boost for our everyday mood.”

“I also used a lot of glass to welcome as much light as possible into our home. The eventual advent of Covid turned our indoor space into the new outdoors, which is why it is even more important to use such elements for enhanced feelings of well-being when indoors!”

So, how long did it all take?

“To imagine the final outcome?” Angelique asked. “Mere seconds! The finished project was already well-embedded in my head – even before the demolition and construction work actually started.”

The project itself, however, took around ten months, from March 2019 to January 2020. The work was extensive. Walls were demolished and a new electricity system installed. The whole house was painted or wallpapered. Gypsum was added in some rooms, which had to be rearranged. New apertures were added where needed, with ample use of glass throughout. A brand-new staircase was constructed to connect the two storeys, having large glass panels in place of a banister.

Upstairs, the furniture was redesigned for the whole floor. The rooftop terrace was enclosed with opaque glass panels, while the terrace walls were overlaid with artificial grass. The patio was furnished with sitting and dining areas, adding an L-shaped open-air extension to the beautifully revamped house.

Refurbishing her abode gave Angelique the push to become a qualified interior designer.

Halfway through the renovation, Angelique initiated an online course with the National Design Academy, based in Nottingham, to acquire a Diploma in Professional Interior Design. She graduated with flying colours soon after her own home project was completed.

“I wanted to follow up interior design as a career, and this course gave me the qualifications I needed. Design is my passion – I am naturally wired to excel in it. And I wanted to be able to use my talents for more than my own personal needs.”

“It was exhausting, of course. I was not only managing our own refurbishment, but I was also spending many hours and sleepless nights studying hard. It took a lot of sacrifices and valued support from my husband and daughter, as well as my beloved family and friends, who cheered me on all the way. But I did it – and I am proof that starting a new career is possible at any age!”

Just like expertly choosing the proper attire, interior design makes Angelique feel good.

Helping others bring out the beauty in themselves or in their residences and places of business is why Angelique loves her work. It makes her feel alive and fulfilled. It also brings out her character in all aspects. Being a self-declared perfectionist, the act of going into detail to create beautiful spaces and environments is a source of achievement and personal satisfaction every time.

“Small spaces are the most challenging, for obvious reasons. But I am always prepared for any circumstance. I relish working with different clients and finding out what they like and what makes them feel good. A competent interior designer offers suggestions without imposing their own personal preferences. A space should reflect its owner's personality by matching the décor to his or her own traits. Different characters – whether earthy, more avant-garde, or ultra-adventurous – will be brought out through different styles.”

Looking eagerly ahead, Angelique is pursuing her new career with gusto.

The talented designer is building her clientele by assisting people in home renovations and upgrades, as well as providing consultations and tips to help them beautify their personal or work spaces. She is not only capable of starting projects from scratch, but also reviving any type of space, as can be seen from her recent personal remodelling of her family home.

Angelique's portfolio also extends to the redoing and embellishment of summer houses, yachts, and boats. Furthermore, another activity she excels in is the decorating of Christmas trees for homes, offices, hotels, and department stores.

In conclusion, this enterprising woman is happy to admit that she has the ideal resource to assist her in her work.

“My husband, Clyde, provided all the paint for finishing up our home.”

It is, indeed, fortuitous that Clyde is one of the best local paint suppliers here on the islands. His company, MaxColor Malta, has a vast range of eco-friendly paints, with a varied selection of colours and shades, all rich in fine pigments. They offer high-quality paints for indoors and outdoors, as well as liquid membrane for waterproofing roofs, terraces, and other outside areas. Among their ample supply of building solutions, you may also find sealants and insulation products.

MaxColor paints are free from solvents and chemicals and possess very low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). This makes them a healthier and safer option, due to the fact that there are less fumes from VOCs released into the air after application, while also drastically reducing the pungent paint smells that normally linger for weeks. Furthermore, MaxColor’s quick-drying paints are highly resistant to fire and weather conditions. These sustainable paints are water-based, making them easy to apply and providing a tough, waterborne coating.

If you wish to avail yourself of Angelique’s design expertise, get in touch with her here:

Angelique Cutajar Cefai – Interior Designer

+356 9923 7000

MaxColor Malta

Factory BLB 026F, Bulebel Industrial Estate, Zejtun

+356 9942 0586

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