The Eye Of Your Home | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, is to elaborate and dissect topics regarding the Home not as containers of stuff, but as a cocoon for the soul, mind, and heart. I will touch on decorations, style, trends, history of the home and sometimes technical information.
Now I have two months left to complete my challenge. The beat is on.

What is an oculus (plural oculi)? It’s an eye-like opening or ornament found in many Neoclassical, Baroque and Byzantine buildings of Italy and Europe. It is often a round window and less often a circular opening at the apex of a dome. The Pantheon in Rome is the finest example, its oculus measures 27 ft in diameter. The purpose of the oculus was to collect rainwater, which was channeled into drains for later usage. The water functioned as an early example of air conditioning as it kept the building cool during summer months. The other necessary function was to allow the sunlight in for natural light in the building.

The world admires Filippo Brunelleschi’s Dome and Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral in Florence, Palladian villas in the Veneto area of Italy and Syrian Byzantine buildings all carrying oculi,  but I really wonder if the mass tourism cares to know about these architectural inventions that stood the taste of time and are still loved today.

Photo: Florence – Eleonora Altomare – Unsplash

Opéra municipal de Clermont-Ferrand, œil de bœuf – Photo: Stockholm -Wikimedia Commons


Photo: Fernando Tapia -unsplash

During the Byzantine Empire the oculi were common details to see on buildings from 5th to 10th century in Constantinople, however during the Italian Renaissance the open oculi on cupolas were substituted with round windows and skylights and in the Baroque era, round windows with an eyebrow on top or ornate stone carvings around an oculus took a more elongate form than circular. The French called them œil de boeuf (bull’s eye).

Nautical Theme Model Kitchen

In my early design career, one of the projects I designed with oculi gave me a lot more satisfaction. It was a remodeling of a kitchen for a gentleman who had devoted his life to sea navigation. For him, I choose naval style cabinetry with ship porthole on each door,  decorative brass details, and hardware (see photos of my model). After the kitchen was completed we went on to remodeling the rest of the house, all in the naval style.

In modern décor, round windows and openings are not very common due to the high manufacturing cost, but when there is one, it is usually a very good-looking style. I love the Brooklyn Clock loft round window I found on Pinterest.

Looking at a view through a round shape is very natural. It’s like your own eye projecting subtle illumination in the interior spaces. My suggestion is to spend money on solid architectural details that will add value to the home and leave out the meaningless details. Solutions are limitless, ask me if you need ideas. Ciao,

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved  

PrintIt’s my hope that through my writing I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspire you to live in beauty. I have loved my profession as an interior designer since 1990. I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need it. Check out my latest book on colors ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, available on


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bluebutterfliesandme
    Dec 04, 2013 @ 21:31:03

    Eye see! Lovely presentation.



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