Porch: Stage For Everyday Life | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Through history of the home and society customs, porches have been the stage from which people watched their neighbors and kept updated with everybody’s businesses.
“Porticus” Latin word for porch was an idea widely used in Ancient Greece and their love for style. Adopted by Romans the “portico” became the building’s entrance supported by columns with a roof structure over a walkway, which would protect people walking even if it was raining. Pantheon in Rome is the best example. This idea, celebrating high aesthetic and style, influenced many cultures since then.

By early medieval times, British people built stone or timber projecting porches for churches to give cover to worshippers. At a baptism, the priest would receive the parents with the infant and the service began in the porch. Buckingham Palace and the White House are two best examples.

Porte-cochere
(Photo: Giano at English Wikipedia)
In Europe, I love to admire the “porte-cochère” (coach gate) a porch-like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building through which horse and carriage (today a motor vehicle) could park and pick up the travels who would be protected from the weather, while  doing their operations of getting in or out of the carriage/vehicle.

Victorian Architecture, or the Queen Anne style, proliferates with examples of homes with a sitting porch in both the front and the back of the home.

Porches cannot be propped up as one needs without unifying the roof lines and the architectural details of the house. Covered porches, also called verandahs, provide protection from sun or rain and insects providing an extra exterior living room that one can arrange with chairs, tables or even a cozy fireplace.

Today they are built mostly for the backyard, encompassing an entire side of the house. Open porches in the front of the house existed when people were friendly with their neighbors or casual passerby and a natural trust existed with each other. It was an opportunity to get to know the postman and the milkman. If people went on vacation, the neighbors watched the temporarily vacant home without even asking. It was a place to listen to the radio al fresco, share a drink, share some family news, gossip with next-door neighbor or enjoy the rain in silence.

(Photo Source: Porches from BH&G)

New homes don’t come with open porches anymore. No one sits in the front of the house and no one trusts anyone. No longer we care to know the postman, the neighbors and the milkman doesn’t even exist anymore. T.V. and computers have occupied our time. We need unpaid volunteers to watch our neighborhood, which the society can lynch at own satisfaction when and if one of them gets in trouble with the law for being overzealous protective of our homes. Those who want to understand, please feel free.

Which porch in my gallery do you like? Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val:FarfalleStampValentina Cirasola is a trained
 Interior Designer
 in business since 1990. She is the owner and principal designer of her company: Valentina Interiors & Designs. Being Italian born and raised, Valentina’s design work has been influenced by Classicism and timeless style. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. . Find Valentina’s three books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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C For Corbel | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


http://myatozchallenge.com/2012/02/20/welcome-to-my-a-to-z-challenge-2/Welcome to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, until Jan. 13, 2014, 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 home and sometimes technical information.
http://myatozchallenge.com/?s=Valentina+Cirasola+

Corbel_Arch_of_Septimium _Severus-Rome

(Corbel Arch of Septimium Severus – Rome)

Korbel with a K is a California winery producing traditional Méthode Champenois sparkling wine in the United States, but the Corbel with a C, of which today I am delighted to speak, is a projecting stone or a piece of timber carved block supporting a beam or a eave. Just as exciting as the bubbly Korbel, the corbel with a C  has been a feature in universal Architecture since almost the dawn of time. From ancient Rome to ancient China, corbels supported magnificent balconies, window sills, projecting parapets, or exceptionally elegant entry ways. In the Medieval time corbels appeared as gargoyles and the Paris Notre Dame Cathedral is showing off its beautiful examples to these days.

The word comes from Latin corbellus or corvus (raven) apparently because it resembles the beak of a crow. In Italian is called mensola and in French is called cul-de-lampe, I like this last one To disguise the load baring function, a corbel must be highly decorative, the eye wants to see something pretty too, not just functionality, that’s the reason of the existence of  so many variety of styles and sizes through history from Corinthian design to animal head, cherub’s face to a king’s face and the very popular woman’s face or pineapple, symbol of prosperity.

Materials and functions have varied from medieval castles to modern-day homes. Wood, gesso, plaster, resin or even steel have been carved, bent, twisted or shaped into submission according to the wishes of the ruler of the moment.

Today, they have become more simple and straightforward with the purpose of decorating modern houses already quite simple in their shapes, except a few décor ideas that want to give the appearance of being important.

I encourage you to be different and to try something new. My black corbel sometimes holds a candle, or a picture and some other time my friends’ glass  of wine. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValWorkingValentina Cirasola transforms and creates spaces realizing people’s dreams in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She infuses your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. 
She offers design consultations on-line through Skype and the traditional in-home visits, helping people with their design challenges anywhere in the world.

As an author of three books, she is now a public speaker and teaches style, colors and image. Find her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Local Flavors | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

The idea of Local Flavors by http://biancadventures.wordpress.com  gives me an opportunity to show some of the local flavors my group of curious travelers will experience as soon as they land in Italy this coming April 15 with me. That’s right, I am taking a group to Puglia, South East of Italy on the Adriatic Sea. In 2012 American soap opera running on T.V. since 25 years ago “The Bold And The Beautiful” filmed eight episodes of the main protagonist’s wedding between the towns of Alberobello, Polignano a Mare and Fasano, a very quaint area of the region.  
I didn’t even know the existence of this soap opera until I spotted this video, now I just hope Hollywood’s influence on the region doesn’t help raising prices for the locals.

Don Antonio the fruit vendor, truly an Italian charmer, always offers the typical afternoon glass of bubbles (Italian Prosecco) with familiar shoppers that come in after 6:00 pm. He knows how to keep the shoppers faithful to his merchandise and how to keep them in the shop. It is a ritual while shopping there for produce to get a glass of Prosecco and a taste of something delicious his wife prepares daily with his fruit and vegetables. They are two delightful people who can steal your time blindly if you don’t watch the clock. Often, Italian shops are daily meeting points of people living in the neighborhood. They buy whatever product the store sells while they indulge in gossips, news, business or even planning future activities between each other.

My local flavors include the show all the fishermen put out on the seafood bank along the promenade in Bari, the main city of Puglia. My group will enjoy watching them opening live shell-fish, will get a real amusement hearing them making loud and colorful comments on who has the best fish of the Adriatic Sea and will feel enticed to try some of those delicious morsel of row fish, wine and bread. Puglia is the only region in Italy where people are accustomed to eat row fish, even if the price is as high as 50-60-70 Euro per Kilo.

As a local born in those parts, my work as a tour guide into art, architecture, history and local flavors will be easy. I am planning to show the area on foot and by a private bus. Walking around the streets is the best way to learn the customs of a country. My group will admire the beautiful Mediterranean architecture and learn some insight of the local history. They will learn that balconies are not just an appendix of their flat, but also places for eating outdoor, gardening and exchanging a conversation with the next neighbor. They will admire fashionable people, pick up some folkloric slang or……a lover. Well….., Italy is the country that will enrich you in every sense.

To register for my trip click here, I still have room for April 15, 2013 : https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-2
Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PDots2Valentina Cirasola will host two trips a year to Italy with the intention of showing Italy with the eyes of a designer born in those parts and let people experience the ”wheel of emotions” don’t even know exist. She will take her groups to the non-commercial Italy, areas not beaten down by massive tourism. Valentina will guide the tours through art, architecture, food, shopping and special adventures organized for people who want to live it up!

Check out her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Geometry | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

 

(All photos are property of ©Valentina Cirasola)

This week theme is perfect for me. The geometry of the Italian architecture has conquered the heart of the world.
In a chaotic country and yet vibrant and artistic as Italy, there is order, tranquility and harmony in all the buildings. They stand erect as a live testimony, that regardless of the state of the economy, or passing of different governments, dictatorship, wars and dominators, Italy has always offered the best examples of beauty. Triangle and semi-circle pediments on top of windows, square top entries and round top entries share the same building façade in a neo-classical order, which is as new today as it was when it was first invented. Colonnades and arcades are perfect to walk under and stay dry for window-shopping, or carrying on a normal day, while outside is raining.

Brunelleschi’s dome, or Palladio style villas have been reproduced everywhere in the world and there has not been yet another architect able to rethink these architectural features. A Dome has been a dome since the Renaissance time; arches have been arches ever since Romans built the first one with the keystone in the center. The White House is one of the many examples of a Palladian villa scattered in the world.

Repetition is the Italian secret to everything. Once we find or create something beautiful, we will repeat it to increase the sensory pleasure. Beautiful quarried stones cover columns, floors and walls of churches, palaces, offices, villas and even simple homes. We walk on luxury every day and we die in luxury carrying with us, on our tombstones, the trait of elegance that distinguishes this small, forever troubled country.

Well, since I come from there, I can proudly say that I can design a mosaic stone floor for any house, small or big. I will be delighted to help designing yours. Ciao,
Valentina

 http://www.Valentinadesigns.com  

 

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She is a designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes. As an Italian designer and true to her origins, she provides only the best workmanship and design solutions. Author of three books all available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

Italy In Small Bites | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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This year is the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy as a Republic, such a small country, such a concentrate of art and history, a country where even a shoe shine is an artist in his own way.
Italian emigrants and their strong patriotism have brought many Italian products around the world, shown them, talked about and place them on the market. They have made the “made in Italy” trade mark something to be proud of. It is a symbol of sophistication, elegance, purity and simple classicism.
Italian style of this century is very modern, very colorful and linear while Italians still enjoy walking around and breathing antiquity. The streets of Italy are very historical, but fashion, interiors and cars are not.
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

The architectural style of Tuscan farmhouses have been copied in California by the boat load and turned into a mansions style, but the bucolic Tuscan scenes cannot be reproduced. Tuscan style is not about a large home empty of emotions and atmospheres, but it comprises a whole life style, it means going to market everyday, cook fresh food, neighbors popping by for coffee unannounced, evening dinner with family and friends, taking afternoon naps, cultivate the land and most importantly being surrounded by the warmth of the people occupying the house.


Italians put a lot of passion when it comes to design eating vessels, an old custom that goes back to the Roman Empire. Pleasing the eyes before the palate and pleasing the palate with fresh, uncomplicated, nor manipulated food. It’s like a game of pleasures, one following the other as close as possible.

What to say about the decorative art of tile making for flooring, kitchen backsplash, bathrooms, or entryways? Italians have an incredible ability to create stunning combinations of material old and new that no one else can do, or combinations of colors and patterns within the material no one else can even think about. Ideas don’t just come because Italians are clever, their ideas are imbedded in their blood through years of tradition and history. In my design projects I can sleep soundly when I employ Italian tile setters and stone fabricators, I know that even if I don’t observe their work, it will be done to perfection. Their clinical eye is a safe heaven. (Photo right: Romeo Cuomo, Italian Ceramic Art – Via Pinterest).

Fashion is a strong weapons for Italians. We dress very fashionable every day even to go to the market. We feel an immense pleasure and satisfaction to be admired by others, it highly gratifies our self-esteem and with that comes the elegant, flirtatious behavior in both men and women. Fashion is used in office and home décor, but in these areas our fashion is classic, classic contemporary, classic modern, classic eclectic, that type of classic that will not go out of vogue in a couple of years, just to be clear.
(Photo of Sophia Loren – http://currentlycrushing.com/sophia-lorens-dolce-gabbana-lipstick).

The thrill of driving an Italian sport car, or simply seeing one roaring by at the speed of light is revitalizing. I hope Italy continues to make them, even if it is only for the pleasure of few lucky ones. (Photo Lamborghini Countach -http://www.seriouswheels.com/car-terms.htm)

Food is no exception to the country’s beauty. Anywhere in Italy food is excellent, even in a “hole in the wall”. Eat Italian food to stay fit and young. In foreign countries Italian restaurants are considered the best. Olive oil, prosciutto, Parmigiano cheese, pasta, cheeses and wines are the most exported food out of Italy. All of us expatriates, laborious, hard workers Italian people, entrepreneurial at heart have contributed to the good reputation of our high quality products.

This 150th birthday of Italy’s unification as a Republic comes at a time of world turmoil, shifting of economic power and natural disasters, but Italy is also fighting its own battle with its own government, high unemployment, poor immigrants from every where in the world arriving on the coasts of Italy by the thousand a day, causing an economic stress the country cannot support. The most dangerous battle facing Italy is the counterfeit of its original products which are being sold all over the world in the name of saving the cent.

(Photo Flap Sofa: http://living.corriere.it/arredamento/complementi/gallery/arredi-italia-3071678439-gallery)

Italy is a vibrant country, all this concentrate of beauty might be a hand full for someone, just take it in small bites, you will learn to love even the noise in the streets and the fatalism of its people. It is still the most charming country to visit and to return to.

As the professional who is always ready, I shall be prompt and ready to help you with any of your needs, whether it will decorating, designing, or remodeling and if you like Italian architecture and décor in your home, I must be the one you should hire. Leave your name in the box below, I shall answer you in 24 hours time. As a new addition to my business, I offer design consultations on-line through Skype line. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is a trained Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990. Being Italian born and raised, Valentina’s design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She is a designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes. As an Italian designer and true to her origins, she provides only the best workmanship and design solutions. Check her books on:
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

 

Hollywood Lives In Cookie Wonderland! | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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Love to go to matinees, especially when the expectation is high. Good film, good stories, attractive images, fantasy flies high, resulting in a few hours of daydreaming. That is time well spent.
I cannot say all of this about the film I saw last Sunday Eat Pray Love, a two hours and half wasted in the cinema. As an Italian born, I am totally offended about the view of Italy that Hollywood portraits.
Take a look of that scene in Rome when Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) is looking for a place to stay for a few months. She enters a dilapidated building, with no hot running water.

The owner of the house tells her to boil the water three to four times to fill up the bathtub. Liz responds the water will not be enough for a bath and the Italian woman rebuttals that she will have enough to wash the most important parts. What an absurdity! There is no house in Italy, old or new that doesn’t have hot running water. Italians don’t live in dilapidated homes, nor they rent them to travelers. We might be surrounded by antiquity, we open our windows and often see the beauty of history all around us, but Italian home interiors are very modern with sleek lines, chic décor, valuable furnishing and most of the time very avant-guard style. Where has Hollywood gone on vacation and experienced no hot water bath?

Another stereotype is the scene of a boisterous group of young lads going after the women tourist pinching their bottoms and vocalizing their pleasure. Italian men might have done that in the 18-1900s when education was a privilege of the élite, but that custom no longer exists in the civilized Italy. Italy is a very modern and vibrant country. We have everything the world wants from style and beauty to good manners and to the art of knowing how to live well, but we also have all the problems of every modern industrialized country. Italians have a high level of education, men don’t have time to spend their days pinching ladies’ derriere, they are too busy keeping up with the tough demands of the European Union as much as Italians in general don’t loose their days eating spaghetti and pizza all the day long. It is an archaic myth, Hollywood!

In the film Julia Roberts is in search of herself and her purpose. For one year she takes a yuppie vacation around the world, her hair is well highlighted for the entire trip and she is somewhat well dressed. That is not what people do when they are lost in life and want to find a new direction. I believe when people are questioning their life is because they want to find a deeper meaning and discover their soul again, certain futile aspects of their life might and will pass in second order, but not in this film. Ok, I forgot, this is Hollywood and I want to be critical.

All in all the scenery is OK, Hollywood could have done better with the means it has, it feels more like a travel log than a film with a spiritual meaning. It teaches us that anytime there is an obstacle in a marriage, it is better to break it up and go on a world trip, instead of understanding each other and work it out. Good teaching for the young generation……!
OK, so last Sunday I spent my two hours and half in a very boring seat, I guess Hollywood needed my $11.00. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an interior designer, in business since 1990 and a former fashion designer. She helps people realizing their dream spaces in homes, offices, interiors, exteriors, restaurants and more. Author of three books available on:
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w 

Appear At The Balcony, My Love! | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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Letters to Juliet, the latest film with Vanessa Redgrave and Italian actor Fabio Testi that every girlfriend of mine is talking about.
(Verona Balcony photo
http://www.freefoto.com/images/14/14/14_14_82—Romeo-and-Juliet-Balcony–Verona-Italy_web.jpg )


The film is based on “What if you had a second chance to find true love?” and of course there is no better place to talk about love than from Juliet and Romeo’s famous balcony in Verona. Hollywood’s ability to prompt women to dream still amazes me. The Italian sceneries in the film are so beautiful, the golden aura of the Mediterranean projected on ancient walls and stones contributes to the romanticism and fantasy. Juliet and Romeo’s balcony is the focus of the last scene that makes the story ending into “they lived happy forever after”. To a realist like me, it was just a nice few hours at the cinema.
But what prompted me to write this small piece is the balcony, a piece of architecture that pushed me back in time, when I was a young woman, constantly in love with anybody who walked.

Yes, it all happened on the balcony of my mom’s house and when my mom was a young woman, most “seen and being seen” happened on the her mother’s balcony too.

In Italy a balcony is a lived space, an added space to the house, or apartment. We Italians sit on the balcony to admire the view whether we have one or not and if we don’t have a view, we scrutinize our neighbors. We get to know them and all their family problems, somehow the balcony doors are always open. We cultivate small orchards on pots and every possible cooking spice, along with flowers. Colors, colors, colors burst from Italian balconies. Among the few produce planted on balconies, tomatoes take first attention, they are a must in the Italian cuisine.

Balconies in Italy are also used to hang clean laundry to dry in the open air, clothes dryers are not popular at all. Naples is one of the most renowned and characteristic city of Italy for its clothes hanging over the streets, leaving to the imagination of the passers-by observations and comments of who could wear those clothes. With a pulley, clothes span from one balcony to another, serving two different families on both sides of the same street.
Hanging clothes to dry from balconies is a practice most popular in the the South of Italy where climate is warmer and people colorful.

On balconies Italians “mettono tavola” meaning they set an outdoor table and dine al fresco, mostly at night, when they can be refreshed in the cool night air, after a long day of Summer heat. It is an excuse to participating also to the night life of people strolling down below in the street. While all of that goes on in the street, up in the balconies, people carry on with their lives until the small hours of the night, as if nobody sees them. In fact, when the weather is really hot it is not uncommon to get a mattress and sleep on the balcony.

To cut down on their routine tasks, housewives lean on balconies and drop a basket down below to the local family owned grocery shop, or drug store to get the small items needed for today’s cooking. The grocer puts in the basket all she needs and the basket returns upstairs, payment for that merchandise comes later. The basket is always attached with a rope to the rail of the balcony ready to be dropped down at any request. On the other hand, women at home, regardless of the busyness of their lives, always have time to spend a few minutes on the balcony to pass along a recipe, or a gossip with the next balcony neighbors, or at best a taste of their cup of coffee.

On Italian balconies young women, who are learning the art of coquetry, show themselves off to potential boyfriends, almost like showing off what they have to offer. The young girl coming out of their shells and new at this game, do everything in their power to attract the young man’s attention they are interested in. They appear at the balcony at the same exact time the young man is passing by, because they have studied him and learned every move he makes…..Suddenly, something falls down from the girl’s balcony, just when he is passing through……oh Heaven!….he is looking up….

In America we don’t socialize through our balconies. Actually only upscale homes have balconies, but nobody uses them, they are only there for beauty and to pay more taxes as exterior spaces. Some are even fake, no exit to it, only a rail attached to the walls as a suggestion of balcony. Our privacy is precious and guarded with sentinels, but when we go to Italy, funny, we like how everything evolves over there, even when people enter our lives through balconies without permission. My life in America is so different now, without that closeness to the neighbors and their lives. I truly miss my Italian balcony, a fabulous piece of architecture, that has been the protagonist of love stories through centuries.

So, let’s ask ourselves that “What if?”.

Valentina
www.valentinadesigns.com


This article was also published on:
L’Italo-Americano Weekly Newspaper and  Italian American Heritage Foundation paper.

*******

Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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VBlue2Valentina Cirasola is an interior and fashion designer, in business since 1990 helping people with design challenges in both Europe and USA. She helps people realizing their dream spaces in homes, offices, interiors, exteriors, restaurants and more. Check out her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

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