This Growing Family Maximizes Every Last Inch in Their 850-Square-Foot Apartment

By Allie Weiss and Dwell / Photos by Nick Ballon
A dated apartment in Milan receives a gut renovation.

"We immediately understood that we needed to erase everything," says designer Roberto Di Stefano, who, along with architect Alessandro Bongiorni, overhauled an 850-square-foot home in Milan. The 1950 apartment, purchased by Andrea Maffei and Rossella Acierno, was highly segmented, divided into small rooms that received little natural light from the narrow windows. Dated materials and finishes—seemingly untouched by the previous owner for decades—completed the sad picture. "You had to have a good fantasy to imagine a livable apartment, with the state that we found it in," Andrea says.


In remodeling a compact Milan apartment, designers Roberto Di Stefano and Alessandro Bongiorni introduced sliding glass doors by Eclisse where a single door once stood to improve connection to the outdoors. In the brightened kitchen, a Comprex cabinet system pairs with Neff appliances. Domenico Mori tiles cover the range hood.

In remodeling a compact Milan apartment, designers Roberto Di Stefano and Alessandro Bongiorni introduced sliding glass doors by Eclisse where a single door once stood to improve connection to the outdoors. In the brightened kitchen, a Comprex cabinet system pairs with Neff appliances. Domenico Mori tiles cover the range hood.


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 A dining nook sits just inside the entrance of Andrea Maffei and Rossella Acierno’s 850-square-foot residence.

 A dining nook sits just inside the entrance of Andrea Maffei and Rossella Acierno’s 850-square-foot residence.


When the couple purchased the apartment, the dining room was enclosed; now, it’s connected to the living room and kitchen as part of a dynamic and open communal area.

When the couple purchased the apartment, the dining room was enclosed; now, it’s connected to the living room and kitchen as part of a dynamic and open communal area.


Sunset pendants by Treviso-based Torremato illuminate a custom table and bench as well as a trio of Eames chairs. Di Stefano and Bongiorno used lighting to structure the open plan: "We put accents on focus points; we didn’t want the light completely spread out," Di Stefano says.

Sunset pendants by Treviso-based Torremato illuminate a custom table and bench as well as a trio of Eames chairs. Di Stefano and Bongiorno used lighting to structure the open plan: "We put accents on focus points; we didn’t want the light completely spread out," Di Stefano says.

Structurally, the space was an ideal candidate for renovation: With no load-bearing interior walls and only one essential column, the entire layout could be reconsidered. The southwest-facing orientation also meant that a better approach to windows would dramatically improve the lighting.

The couple had worked with Di Stefano and Bongiorni on their prior apartment, a one-bedroom that they felt would be too small for a family (their son, Alessandro, was born in February). Di Stefano is a member of the online interior decorating platform Decorilla, which Andrea and Rossella used to fine-tune their ideas and create mood boards. "We did research and played around a bit," Andrea says. "It helps in figuring out what you want to do, because at the beginning you typically do not have an idea."