An Old Fisherman's House in Sicily Is Transformed Into 2 Apartments

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By Marissa Hermanson
With their property rental business "I Am Sicily" in mind, architects Francesco Moncada and Mafalda Rangel turned a dilapidated fisherman’s house from 1890 on Sicily’s Ortigia Island into two contemporary apartments that they rent out to creative travelers.

The historic house, which is just a stone’s throw from Ortigia’s beautiful harbor, was in need of a full gut and renovation. "[The property] was completely in ruin, without windows and with serious damages on the walls and ceilings," says Moncada. 

The newly transformed house now consists of a ground floor with storage space, a second floor with the two apartments, and a rooftop terrace. 

An Old Fisherman's House in Sicily Is Transformed Into 2 Apartments - Photo 1 of 12 - The now combined kitchen and dining space in the one-bedroom apartment is compact yet efficient.

The now combined kitchen and dining space in the one-bedroom apartment is compact yet efficient.

During the renovation, Moncada and Rangel, who run their own architecture and design agency called Moncada Rangel Architects, split the second floor into two units. A studio apartment sleeps two and offers seaside views from a cozy balcony. The neighboring, larger one-bedroom apartment sleeps four and includes a living room that opens up to an intimate courtyard. 

Both apartments embrace a minimalist and contemporary aesthetic with crisp white walls, geometric tiles, and eclectic light fixtures. Echoing its seaside views, tranquil shades of blue are found throughout.

An Old Fisherman's House in Sicily Is Transformed Into 2 Apartments - Photo 2 of 12 -

"The bathroom is completely new and occupies the space that was previously dedicated to the kitchen," says Moncada, who decked out the shower wall and floors in cement hexagon tiles by Bisazza. Moncada and Rangel customized a sink by Flaminia by designing a yellow metal base.  

An Old Fisherman's House in Sicily Is Transformed Into 2 Apartments - Photo 3 of 12 -

The kitchen was moved from its previous location (now occupied by the bathroom and bed alcove) to create a more open, flowing floor plan. New white cabinets and countertops from IKEA were installed to create a clean and contemporary kitchen. 

A sleek Lampe de Marseille light fixture by Le Corbusier illuminates a cozy dining area, which also includes cement hexagon tiles by Bisazza

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To create a new open-concept living area, the wall that used to mark the existing kitchen peninsula was removed. The same hexagon Bisazza tiles from the bathroom wall were used in the kitchen and living area, but arranged in a diagonal pattern. Contemporary light fixtures in this space include a Parentesi Suspension lamp by Achille Castiglioni for FLOS, a Fato table lamp by Gio Ponti for Artemide, and a tropical-inspired pendant by Maisons du Monde

FLOS Parentesi Floor Lamp
FLOS Parentesi Floor Lamp
The Parentesi Floor Lamp from FLOS was designed in 1970 by Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzù. Now a design classic, the Parentesi blends the concept of a floor light and a ceiling lamp by including a ceiling mount and floor base. Although strong and stable, the Parentesi gives the illusion of lightness with its slender silhouette and cable that appears to float in space. The bulb holder swivels in any direction, and can be raised or lowered to redirect light where it is most needed. The unobtrusive Parentesi can be used in a variety of interior spaces, including home offices and living rooms. Photo: Nick Ballon

Blue wooden windows were custom designed by Moncada and Rangel and made by Masetti

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Moncada and Rangel designed a sleeping alcove between the existing walls and carved out two niches to act as nightstands. In lieu of a headboard, the back wall was covered in Arabescato Carrara marble

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In the studio apartment, blue-and-white, hand-painted tiles by Made a Mano draw inspiration from Ellsworth Kelly paintings. "The mirror was used in order to visually extend the room and to reflect views of the sea and Mount Etna from the balcony," says Moncada. 

An Old Fisherman's House in Sicily Is Transformed Into 2 Apartments - Photo 7 of 12 -


An Old Fisherman's House in Sicily Is Transformed Into 2 Apartments - Photo 8 of 12 -

A custom metal staircase in green, pink, and yellow connects all three floors. It was made by COFEAL SUD and designed by Moncada and Rangel. "We completely rebuilt the access and extended the staircase," says Moncada. 

An Old Fisherman's House in Sicily Is Transformed Into 2 Apartments - Photo 9 of 12 -

The studio and one-bedroom apartment both have access to the rooftop terrace, which features breathtaking views of the nearby harbor, Mount Etna, Lungomare di Levante, and Forte San Giovannello. 

An Old Fisherman's House in Sicily Is Transformed Into 2 Apartments - Photo 10 of 12 -

The patio floor was covered with limestone from Modica. A large red circle pointing in the direction of the sunrise frames an al fresco shower that's used during warm weather. 

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The same blue-and-white, custom Made a Mano tiles used in the studio apartment are also incorporated on the rooftop terrace wall.

An Old Fisherman's House in Sicily Is Transformed Into 2 Apartments - Photo 12 of 12 -

Project credits:

-Total Size: 1,937 square feet

-Architecture and Interior Design: Moncada Rangel 

-Builder/General Contractor: Giampaolo Si Gona

-Structural Engineering: Sebastiano Floridia 

-Windows/Doors: Masetti 

-Metal work: COFEAL SUD  

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