Despite the name, delicate lines of glass and plaster run through the Scaiano Stone House.

In the small Swiss village of Scaiano, near the Italian border, a former brandy distillery sits amidst a cluster of old homes, a hamlet so old that you can't drive your car down the narrow streets and instead have to walk a few minutes from the nearest good-sized road to reach the door. Architect Jérôme de Meuron was tasked with turning this centuries-old building, a monolith of stone, into an airy vacation escape. How do you create lightness with something as dense as stone? De Meuron took Dwell through the process of carving out an escape from the aged walls, and the delicate contrasts possible with sleek lines and glass walls.

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The renovation of this old stone structure by Wespi de Meuron Romeo architects was, at times, as much archeology as architecture. The small square in front of the building, the only in the village of Scaiano, dates the building, a former brandy distillery fortified with both spiritis and stone walls. After reinforcing the roof and replacing the wood beam floors with concrete, the team started to dig in.

The end goal, a vacation home with a view of the nearby lake, led Jérôme de Meuron to cut through a wall and ceiling to open up the space. "We tried to preserves as much as possible," he says. The addition of the large upper story window adds daylight without altering the street-level character of the stone home.

The former cellar, now an entrance with a built-in raw steel fireplace, welcomes guests. Plaster outlines the new staircase, where an old stonewall was cut out to provide a passageway to the upper level.

The stairwell leads to the main dining room and kitchen, where gray plaster and oiled larch wood joinery create a softer environment. The custom dining table, built by GRG Carpenteria, is surrounded by a set of Philippe Stark Toy armchairs.

Dramatic floor lighting on this glass wall, custom fit within the curve of a carved-out stone wall, provides simple beauty in material contrast. "In such small spaces, it's often better to integrate the furniture and fixtures into the room," says de Meuron.

This alternative view of the kitchen and dining area, outfitted with KWC ONO and Sanitär Tröesch, exemplifies how reinforncing the walls and cutting through some of the stone brought significant light into the interior.

Parts of the interior still maintain an earthy, subterranean atmosphere. Catacombs are hidden below the finished rooms above. The stairs lead to an outdoor area designed for communal interaction.

Custom case work and a polished wall give the bathroom a warm yet minimal look.

Despite the raw materials and rocky walls, the upstairs terrace feels positively weightless, offering spectacular views of Lago Maggiore.

  • Jérôme de Meuron