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June 25, 2019 – Published in Design & Decor Summer 2019 issue

It is utterly timeless


​​Words Jo Caruana  Photography Alan Carville

When renowned interior designer Pippa Toledo was asked to transform a Portomaso apartment into a space her clients could feel was completely their own, she knew that a timeless look would hit the right note. Here she explains how this stunning result was achieved.

As one of Malta’s most accomplished interior designers, Pippa Toledo is constantly enthused by the world around her. From the blues of our skies to the bright colours associated with our island’s heritage, she loves finding ever-more fascinating sources to inspire her fabulous projects.

As one of her most recent projects, Pippa was asked to transform this spacious apartment within Portomaso’s Laguna project, which sits adjacent to the marina with stunning views out to the Mediterranean.

It wasn’t quite the blank canvas that she has sometimes worked with but it was the perfect setting for Pippa. Already many key elements – like the kitchen – were in place, so it was her role to bring heightened creativity to the space through exciting design additions and striking soft furnishings. “We took care of everything that transforms a house into a home,” she smiles.

Of course, Pippa was instantly inspired by the Laguna setting and the apartment’s beautiful sea views. Instantly, she was drawn towards a palette of light blues, greys and golds – hues that evoke the very best of the Mediterranean.

“I think this is a look that would prove pleasing to most people,” she continues. “It is an aesthetic that doesn’t date; it’s timeless. It helps that I absolutely loved working with this client, and that they gave me carte blanche to be able to create a space that looks good while also being very practical for their lifestyle.”

As Pippa had worked with this particular client before, she knew exactly what they wanted to achieve. “I know their tastes, and it was nice to feel completely trusted,” she says. “We actually have very similar ideas, so it was fun and easy.”

As always, though, Pippa started her design process by listening to her client in great detail – a philosophy that is easily one of her most important strengths. The studio then put forward a concept and mood board that, once approved, was translated into a 3D render of the project to help the client visualise what Pippa had in mind. Her client loved it.

“As we retail soft furnishings ourselves, we have so much flexibility,” Pippa continues. “So if a client doesn’t quite like the result, we have something else on-hand immediately. It makes the process very fluid, as we can try lots of different things.”

In fact, in the process, Pippa brought in endless accessories and delightful touches, including carpets, lamps, coffee tables, chandeliers, cushions and so much more. “We turn up, style everything, and invite our client to take a look with everything in place,” Pippa explains.

“We then leave what the client likes and take away anything they aren’t so sure of. This means our clients don’t have to visualise anything for themselves, but can see everything in situ and then fall in love with what works best for them. It’s a fun process and it helps to bring a space together really quickly and effectively.”

In this apartment, Pippa worked her magic in this way too, creating a holistic feel for the home in its entirety. The large, open-plan living room is a definite highlight. As the heart of the property, it seamlessly blends from one space to another, with every aspect – from the wallpaper to the soft furnishings – working beautifully together while still providing plenty of interest.

There are numerous key accents too. In the dining area, these include the beautiful velvet dining chairs, the tall blue lamps, the textured metallic wallpaper, and the large gold bowls.

In the living room, the design centres around a smart cream L-shaped sofa and large white mirrors, as well as the gold side tables and lamps, and fabulous orange scatter cushions that perfectly complement the other hues.

“Both spaces now work very well together, but also have an individual personality that is slightly stand-out,” Pippa says. “Now it works perfectly whether the owners are entertaining, relaxing, cooking, dining or working. An open plan is always a challenging area to get right but it needs to be right, because without it a home of this kind cannot function effectively.”

And beyond the homogeny of the whole apartment, there are wonderful accents to be enjoyed too – with individual pieces of furniture that inject added personality. “One of the most important parts of the whole process is picking out the occasional furniture – those items that have to work in the whole, but also as statements on their own. In this apartment, these pieces include the gold cabinet with mirrored doors and the charming antique bureau and desk that was refurnished in our studio. I find that it is these touches that really bring everything together and complete the overall look.”

Now, with the transformation complete, Pippa looks back on the project as one of her favourites. “The client is very happy and that makes me happy,” she smiles. “What could be better than knowing that this apartment went from being rather underdone to a home bursting with style, elegance and luxury? Between the views and the décor it is a dream property now – and a truly timeless one at that.”

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