Turin retreat: a home full of intimate spaces | Interiors

Manuela Merlo’s house hunt finished almost as soon as it had begun. At her second house viewing, she found a 1920s ground-floor property in Turin that worked its magic. The one-bedroom art nouveau flat featured high ceilings and, at the back, an overgrown but fascinating garden. “When I first saw it the plants were covered with a blanket of snow and two cats were sleeping peacefully,” says Manuela. The tranquil scene was exactly what she was looking for. Located in the Crocetta district, the property is close to the city centre, but secluded enough not to be overwhelmed by the noise of nightlife activities. Manuela and her daughters Sveva, 16, and Costanza, 14, have now lived here for three years.

“When we bought the property in 2019, I had recently separated from my husband,” says Manuela. “I decided it was time for us to find a quiet place where we could put down roots. Fortunately, it is within comfortable walking distance of their father’s house, school and friends.”

The previous owner had lived in the flat for more than 50 years. When he died, his daughter decided to sell. “The layout was a single open space with a bedroom and bathroom on the entry level,” says Manuela. “There was a distinct 1970s vibe with carpet everywhere, which we removed. However, I was keen to make the most of the beautiful garden and keep his trees and the roses that produced an intoxicating scent.”

True colours: the bedroom, with wall-hung roll of Deborah Bowness wallpaper and floral touches. Photograph: Barbara Corsico/Living Inside

Before putting in an offer, Manuela confirmed it would be possible to install a garden room that would connect the living area and the garden. The glazed lean-to was built by a local blacksmith and is the brightest space in the house. “It’s great being able to collect produce from our small vegetable garden in the spring and summer months, and cook it immediately,” she says.

Back in the house, the interiors are the result of her passion for design and natural materials. Vibrant rugs are displayed throughout the property, including on the bathroom and kitchen floors. “I love soft and intimate atmospheres and I tried to create them in the house, giving life to many charming corners, each with its own function.”

One such corner under the stairs features a Vitra Eames rocking chair and a String system bookcase. There’s also a work area in the dining room with an original 1950s desk, computer, books and plants. The furnishings, textiles and assorted objects are a mix-and-match of design pieces, many from her own company, Pinkmartini, and some inherited from family and friends or found in vintage markets. “I managed to keep some furniture that came with the house, including the bed and a mirror in the bathroom,” she says.

There’s a new mezzanine area with glazed walls that allow light to spread through the rooms. This space had been used as storage and was accessed via a flight of stairs, where the wall is now painted yellow. “The flight was L-shaped and took up lots of room,” Manuela explains. “With the help of an architect friend we designed a set of straight, open-tread iron flights for the opposite wall.” These lead up to Sveva and Costanza’s bedrooms. The small and comfortable rooms have been designed to leave enough space for a large walk-in wardrobe on the same level.

Back downstairs in the Ikea kitchen area, a large vintage mirror is suspended on a tilt. “I wanted it to hang like this to give the bistro effect, but it also reflects the entire garden space, bringing nature into our home,” Manuela explains. Above the IL-Wood & Co marble-topped peninsula hang two multicoloured ceramic pendants from Ferroluce Lighting and the floor is covered with a bold polyvinyl rug Manuela designed for Pinkmartini. “It was important to create a comfortable and appealing space for the girls throughout,” she says.

Garden room: the fully glazed lean-to, constructed by a local blacksmith. Photograph: Barbara Corsico/Living Inside

The hand-printed Deborah Bowness wallpaper in the corridor sets the tone for the rest of the interiors – a considered mix of vintage and modern furniture offset by vibrant colours. “I’ve used wallpaper by the same designer in my bedroom, but I decided to hang the entire roll instead of pasting it to the wall.”

Manuela has managed to establish balance and harmony – in a space of just 90sqm. “We exploited the high ceilings and were able to add an extra bathroom,” she says. And it’s peaceful, too: “I rarely need to escape to the mountains, as I often did in the past.”



Manuela Merlo quickly found her dream home in Turin during her second house viewing. The 1920s ground-floor property in the Crocetta district featured a one-bedroom art nouveau flat with high ceilings and a charming overgrown garden in the back. The peaceful atmosphere, away from the noise of the city center, was exactly what Manuela was looking for, and she, along with her daughters Sveva and Costanza, have been living there for three years now.

After separating from her husband, Manuela wanted to find a quiet place to settle down, and this property met all her criteria. The previous owner had lived there for over 50 years, and when he passed away, his daughter decided to sell. Manuela saw the potential in the space, especially the garden, and decided to make some changes, including adding a garden room that connected the living area to the garden.

The interiors of the house reflect Manuela’s passion for design and natural materials. Vibrant rugs, a mix of design pieces from her company Pinkmartini, and furniture inherited from family and friends create a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The house features various charming corners, each with its own purpose, including a work area and a mezzanine space for the girls’ bedrooms.

The kitchen area, furnished with items from Ikea and vintage pieces, features a large vintage mirror that reflects the garden, bringing nature indoors. The entire house is a mix of vintage and modern elements, creating a harmonious and balanced space in just 90sqm. Manuela has truly made this house a home for her and her daughters, where they can enjoy the peaceful surroundings without needing to escape to the mountains as often as before.