Decorating & Design

June 10, 2013

18th Century Portuguese Home

Nobody wants to truly live in the past — there’s a reason electricity and indoor plumbing were adopted — or in a home that feels like a can’t-be-touched museum. So the trick with older homes is to find a balance between preserving the original details and introducing modern updates. This 18th-century casarão in Lisbon has heritage to spare, but could use a few modern touches. Let’s wander through.

Between the orange stucco walls, hunter green doors and wrought-iron lantern, this courtyard does not skimp on charming details. From one angle, the house looks neoclassical, complete with pediment and columns; from another, it’s all curvy iron and cross-hatched, arched windows.

Need a place to park your carriage? The foyer is just as good a spot as any! (For gasoline-powered carriages, there’s a separate four-car garage.) The walls are lined with the traditional tiles known as azulejos, and the blue-and-white soldier figures in the courtyard are made of them, too.

In the dining room, the plain stone tile of the entry gives way to heavily marbled reds and greens. Delicate garland motifs on the walls and ceiling balance out the sumptuous flooring and (possibly) Murano chandelier.

The neoclassical garlands and panelling continue in this elliptical anteroom just off the dining room. This would make a lovely spot for pre-prandial cocktails or hatching secret plots (preferably behind the pocket doors), but perhaps after over a century, the phonograph could be replaced with a more discreet sound system.

Finally, a sign of the 21st century — even if it’s tucked away in the corner. The main house has four bedrooms, including this one, and there are two separate apartments elsewhere on the property with three additional bedrooms.

Would you want to take this historic property into the modern age?

Photo credits:
1-5. Emile Garcin Properties