agava design

Home Tour - Simona Ortolan Nordic home in Milan

For the first home tour of the blog, I’m really happy to welcome Simona Ortolan, architect, interior designer, and blogger based in Milan. Simona and I virtually met thanks to CasaFacile magazine (I’ve been a reader since forever) and we’ve been Insta-friends for a while now.

Before starting the home tour, if you have a beautiful home you want to see featured here, drop me a line at valeria@crescenzi.ch or tag me on Instagram so I can have a sneak peek into your place. You could be the next in line to be interviewed! Let’s get back to the first home tour…

Taking off from Simona’s place is something special to me. First of all, because this interview is a little homage to Italy and Italian creatives in this very delicate moment. Second, because this home has a beautiful, cozy color scheme (especially the light greyish blue shades) and because it’s a rented apartment that didn’t give up on being an impersonal rented apartment due to restrictions on making substantial changes. I do live in a rented apartment myself I find very good insights and tips for mine looking at Simona’s choices.

She is a «Nordic addicted» and her apartment is living proof of this passion for Scandi style. If you are northern interiors chasers you’ll love this home tour! I asked Simona some questions to learn more about her style, likes, and things she loves (including some interesting shopping tips). I’ll wait to read your comments about her beautiful and cozy home. Ready?

Dear Simona hello and welcome to my blog. Would you please introduce yourself?

Hello everyone, my name is Simona Ortolan and I’m an architect, interior stylist, and blogger. Online I am known as @ilpampano which is also the name of my blog born in 2013 to speak to the Italian audience about kids’ design (especially Nordic) when we were still very few talking about it. I have a background in set design (which helps me in styling projects) but my great love is interior design. I design and create welcoming and unique homes, as well as hotels and retails spaces — often collaborating with photographers. Since 2015 I collaborate with CasaFacile magazine as a blogger and starting from 2018 also web editor and blogger coordinator.

What is the story of your house?

I’m a nomad and a moving specialist. I toured the Italian peninsula and also lived for some time abroad but I’m back living in Milan for two years now. I chose this little apartment in the center of Milan, after almost four months of research.

Finding a house to rent in the city is a real challenge. Prices are high, competition as well, and houses are often in very bad condition. Moreover, if you are moving with a little girl in primary school… the hunt can turn into a series of hurdles. I found the listing one evening late July evening. The very next day at 9 a.m. in the morning I was already calling the agency; at lunchtime, I visited the apartment and in the afternoon I signed the contract.

I gave up having a separate kitchen, but I found all the features I was looking for: high ceilings, white walls, parquet floor, fine finishes and a color palette to customize. It is a typical «old Milan» house overlooking a beautiful, silent courtyard. 

How would you describe your home style?

The house style is mainly Nordic (the same that inspires my projects), minimal and influenced by Italian design. There are a lot of DIY projects and a few vintage touches. This house mirrors me 100%. I often work from home and space affects my mood, my creativity, and my productivity.

What is the room you love the most and why?

I have no doubt… it’s Ginevra’s bedroom. Kids’ design is one of my passion and this room has undergone a great metamorphosis. When we moved here, this small room had a whole wall completely covered with a camouflage pattern. It had dark colors and it was not suitable for a kid of her age. Firstly, I painted the walls white, then I made a faux boiserie just using a beautiful shade of gray paint. I created a base for white furniture and accessories. A non-intrusive decoration that not only allows me to change the styling over time but takes into consideration that children often change tastes in terms of style and colors!

Let’s talk about furniture and decor pieces. What is your favorite oldest piece and what is the most recent one? 

I love Bauhaus and the Wassily chair (Model B3) by Marcel Breuer is my dream! The leather edition is my favorite one. Another object I love is Norm69, the Normann Copenhagen’s chandelier. Launched in 2002, this stunning lamp comes in 69 pieces that anyone can assemble without the use of any tools or glue. I had it in all the houses I lived in! Among the most recent pieces, I could mention the round tables by Amanda Lilholt.

Tell us one DIY project in your home

My favorite DIY is the furniture in the entryway. I designed and made it with the help of my father. It has a metal structure with one wooden shelf and two drawer shelves, also made of wood. I’ve made it for the kitchen of my previous house and I’ve now adapted it to the current one.

I searched for a similar piece of furniture for almost a year and when I realized that I wouldn’t find it (I couldn’t find the right color or dimensions) so I decided to make it myself. I involved my father (who learned to work iron when was a boy) and a friend of him who got the welding equipment and… we made it! 

What makes a house a home?

The details and customization made by those who live in the house. I can design spaces in the best way possible to meet the needs of those who live there but this is not enough. This is only the basis on which to build every detail.

Which dream piece would you like to buy for your home?

Right now I am looking for a bed. I would like to buy the Fawn model designed by Salih Teskerednev for Gazzda. If I have to choose an iconic object, then I go for Antonio Citterio’s Grand Sofa designed for Vitra or the Biagio lamp by Flos.

What are your favorite furniture brands and designers?

I could make a list of all the Nordic brands: from Muuto to Ferm Living, Normann Copenhagen, and Aytm. I am also constantly looking for independent brands and small companies. Right now, I’m keeping an eye on Eastern Europe, which is currently a great idea incubator and it’s living a period of creative ferment.

Regarding my favorite designers, as a woman, I’d like to mention three women professionals. Gae Aulenti, the inspiring muse of any female architect. Agustina Buttoni, I love her elegant and warm minimalism. Last, but not least, Elena Salmistraro: I love her colorful, iconographic, and contemporary style.


Read my interview to Elena Salmistraro here.


If you had the chance to buy a second house or apartment, where would it be and what kind of style would it have?

That’s the million-dollar question. May I say: «one in every city I love?» I would like to have a house overseeing canal in Amsterdam, an apartment on the rooftops of Copenhagen, or a London house with a colorful door!

Tell us three favorite design/architecture books or magazines

CasaFacile (Italian magazine) that for me is like family and 91Magazine. I add a book: The Kinfolk Home.

What are your favorite design shops?

Online, I often buy from Smallable, finnishdesignshop, and recently I also from Welchomestore. When possible, I buy directly from brands. I have a real passion for design shopping… On my blog, there is a dedicated section, with shopping tips across Europe.

Tell us three favorite Instagram accounts

@anetteselnes for her dark and deep atmospheres. 

@mamoesjka_nl that I appreciate for the relaxing and minimal.

@anna.cor for her cozy and raw atmospheres.

Thank you so much Simona for opening the doors of your lovely home to us. Dear readers, it’s been so nice to take you on this first home tour today. Stay tuned for more gorgeous home tours to come!

[Photo credits: Simona Ortolan]

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