Join Cabana for an access-all-areas tour of Editor-in-Chief Martina Mondadori's childhood home in Milan. The storied apartment, designed by Renzo Mongiardino, is still the beating heart of Cabana and in many ways Cabana's earliest - and most enduring - inspiration. 



The living room at Casa Cabana, designed by Renzo Mongiardino 


Ever since the creation of Cabana 10 years ago, this extraordinary Milanese home has played host and home to the Big Cabana Family. Its richly decorated walls have seen endless parties, lavish dinners and intimate lunches, while collections have been drawn up at its kitchen table and aesthetes have been interviewed in its living room.

It is the childhood home of Cabana founder and Editor-in-Chief, Martina Mondadori, and was decorated by the great Italian decorator, Renzo Mongiardino, completed in 1978. Mongiardino was a close friend of Martina’s mother, Paola Zanussi, and so he considered the space a playground for all of his best stylistic tricks and techniques.


The dining room at Casa Cabana, replate with antique Imari plates 


This resulted in one of his most layered and extraordinary creations. The harmonious space perfectly achieves the balance between grandeur and coziness: it is incredibly decadent, yet somehow unfussy and highly functional too.

It is a truly welcoming house, and where Martina learnt the art of entertaining from her mother, who is known to have always put her guests instantly at ease.


Entrance Hall

On entering the apartment one is immediately struck by its beauty. The entrance hall, which is incredibly long, has been masterfully broken up into seating areas and doubles up as a library. This creates a space (pictured below), which is lavish and cosy, rather than daunting. Hand painted to imitate wood marquetry, the shelves heave with a lifetime of books illuminated by small brass reading lights. Furnished with Persian carpets, comfy sofas and armchairs upholstered in Ottoman fabrics, and side tables filled with interesting objects d’art, one could spend hours in this space alone.

Living Room

The living room (pictured below) is perhaps the most impressive and striking room of the house due to its extraordinary walls, covered with wallpaper entirely hand-painted by Romolo Paganelli. The decorative motif, imitating 17th-century Italian scagliola, was inspired by a Renaissance church in Milan. The chimneypiece appears to have panels of precious marble in different colors. On closer inspection, one discovers it is all a masterful illusion—the material is actually reverse-painted glass.

It was in this room that Martina, aged 8, was beckoned out of bed by her mother to meet Rudolf Nureyev. The dancer had just finished a show at La Scala and had been invited to the apartment by Mongiardino. He walked his famous light-footed walk around the room, inspected its painted walls and remarked, “I love this green room”.

This confused everyone, Martina recalls, as the living room is painted in shades of black and ochre. However, Nureyev reiterated his fondness for the 'green' room. “Yes! green, I feel and see green in this room”. Like Nureyev, everyone who enters this room sees something different - that is the power of a truly inspirational room.

Dining Room 

The dining room walls were originally covered with a very simple red Laura Ashley fabric that was hand stencilled with a green-and-blue design. Later, Mongiardino suggested that Ms. Zanussi start a collection of antique Imari plates and display this on the walls. It took 25 years to pull together the pieces, found at flea markets and antiques shops around the world and varying in dimension and style.

Two large brass lights hang low, casting soft light over the table. Clever storage is incorporated into the design of the room, with a pair of illusionistic double doors opening into a glassware cupboard, filled with dazzling hand-painted Murano glasses.

The Studio 

This studio (pictured below), which opens up to the living room via a pair of double doors, is swathed in Cabana x Schumacher Floralia sisal fabric, featuring delightful scrolling botanical designs inspired by antique Ottoman block print.

With its striking Pompeiian red color and exotic feeling, the fabric fits seamlessly with the overall scheme of the apartment. 


Cabana x Schumacher Floralia sisal fabric in the studio at Casa Cabana



The kitchen is a compact and perfectly formed space, which seamlessly marries form and function. The room is pulled together by floor-to-ceiling tiles in a pretty blue white and brown color with a small star motif. On the back wall, there is a display of antique tiles in a myriad of colors, beneath which sits a simple wooden marble-topped table with stools that tuck neatly beneath it.

The fridge is covered with hundreds of magnets from around the world, and the cabinets are filled with beautiful china and ceramics. In this kitchen, there is always a delicious pasta being prepared for lunch or cake for being baked for teatime.


The apartment has two bathrooms; the first is another room which is simple yet perfect, tiled in a geometric pattern of brown and white. The oval mirror above the basin is flanked by two small display shelves either side, which can be filled with candles or flowers during a party. The second bathroom is larger and has beautiful wooden cabinetry and walls in a peachy shade of beige embellished with subtle plasterwork motifs. Both bathrooms are filled with decorative seashells, elegant perfumes, and antique hand-painted glass.

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