Combine Scandi roots with Italian traditions and you get a lot more than a home – you create a relaxed family lifestyle…
Who lives here: Hanne Poli, an interior designer originally from Norway; her son Sebastian, 18; and Arabia the dog. Hanne’s older son Alexander, 23, lives in Amsterdam but visits regularly.
Style of home: A 250 square-metre brick house, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The house is built as a long structure with all the rooms leading out onto a shaded portico on one side.
Hanne Poli’s life has always been that of a wanderer. An interior designer, she left her home country of Norway at 18 and has been chasing professional dreams and searching for beauty all around the world ever since. After several years living in New York, Malaysia and Amsterdam, she was ready for change. “I had a strong desire to live in a large and isolated property, with plenty of space where my children could run free and the climate would remain sunny most of the year,” says Hanne. “Italy had been calling me for a while, and I was lucky enough to have the chance to choose where to live and create my own tailor-made environment.”
After some searching, Hanne stumbled upon Trevignano Romano, a small village on the shore of Lake Bracciano about 30 minutes’ drive from Rome. “I found it driving around with my kids in the back seat, searching for the ‘perfect spot’,” says Hanne. “I saw Trevignano and fell in love.” To her delight, there was a large block of land for sale, which contained a very basic structure and permission to build. “It was just a roof and eight pillars,” says Hanne, “but the structure was perfectly rectangular and I knew right away I could do wonders with that.” All this natural beauty just 45 minutes from the airport was perfect professionally, as Hanne often travels around Europe. She was also fascinated by the idea of having boars, foxes and sheep as neighbours. The scenery reminded her of Tuscany, although a wilder, greener version.
Hanne purchased the property in 1999, and set about planning. At first she had two hectares of nothing: no water, electricity, no gas, and just her dream for a home. “The first thing we did was dig a 180-metre-deep well,” she says. “I arrived here with two very small children, I was working on a project in Sweden and learning Italian while I was communicating with the workmen building the house. Never again! The fact that I had lived all around the world helped me get through this great challenge. It’s probably also why my family and I were so warmly welcomed by the people here.”
Her home, built over the period of a year, combines her own Scandinavian style and the more relaxed Italian lifestyle. The importance of a warm and welcoming living space comes from her Norwegian upbringing. But a striking detail of Hanne’s home is the strong bond between the interior and the outdoors: glass doors, a long portico and verandah create the conditions for a relaxed ‘barefoot’ lifestyle that works for the Italian climate. “The way Italians live their life had always been a source of inspiration for me,” says Hanne.“Living here, I learned to approach time at a slower pace, but also how to combine the dolce vita of Italy with my natural Norwegian efficiency.”
This plays out in her decorative choices, too, with the grey and white tones so prevalent in Scandinavian style creating a serene base for a range of rustic textures suited to the Italian countryside. “I added insulation to the fabric of the house, which the Italians thought was unnecessary, and heating under the concrete floors – thank goodness I did!” she says. “I used traditional Italian plaster, intonaco colorato for the walls, and mixed the natural colour pigments myself, plus I bought antique floor tiles from Sicily and old roof tiles to give it a sense of history.”
Hanne drew on the experience of local craftspeople, too; a local blacksmith made all the windows and French doors, which open onto the long shaded portico and built the ‘glasshouse’, a brick-paved room between the kitchen and the garden, which features a centuries old stone fireplace (pictured opposite; “my biggest investment”, says Hanne). Extra-tall oak doors were made by a local carpenter and Hanne specified a dry stone wall crafted from local volcanic stone.
“My house is my heart and my way of experiencing life, and that’s why I tend not to embrace fashion or ‘rules’ when I design,” says Hanne. “Instead, I look for a way to make spaces practical and beautiful at the same time.” For her own home, this means furniture and accessories collected over many years and from many countries. Old pieces such as her 22-year-old dining table are mixed with market finds from Kenya, Moroccan lights and a 1940s leather chair found in Zurich.
“Amazingly, all of it works really well together,” says Hanne. “What I’ve realised is that the design of the house is timeless. It still feels very modern and it’s getting more beautiful every year. I think that’s down to good interior architecture and material choices plus a smart colour scheme. In 16 years of life in the Trevignano countryside, I have never felt that I’ve made the wrong choice in moving here. I travel a lot but I think I’ve chosen the most beautiful place in the world to live.”
To see more of Hanne’s work, visit hannepoli.com and check out
@hannepoli on Instagram.