The Gritti Palace Entrance. Photo courtesy the hotel’s website.
Chewning is a highly talented interior designer from Georgia who majored in Historic Preservation of Architecture and Interior Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is the current creative director of Donghia and director of design at Studio Rubelli. Chewning offered an intelligent, beautifully articulated presentation (and I loved how accessible and down to earth he was) on an enormously complicated renovation of one of the most famous buildings of Venice. US based Save Venice Inc. helped fund the project and the renovation was launched shortly after the palace closed its doors in 2011, after having been flooded no less than 24 times in 2010!
Chuck Chewning. Photo courtesy Donghia.
The glamorous 16th Century Palace was in dire need of help. Chewning and his team dug 8 feet under the foundation to create concrete basins to capture the water excess and counterweight the foundation. Local artisans were brought in to create historically accurate terrazzo flooring. Marble waiscotting was used on the lower levels to conceal the concrete foundation. The original 91 rooms were reconfigured into 82 grander rooms offering proper bathrooms with modern amenities.
Once the building was structully habitable, the designer sifted through all the original furniture and realized only 50% of the original pieces were salvageable! Chewning and his team drew sketches in order to create replicas. Months were spent collecting art and accessories around Europe.
My favorite part about the building is that Chewning named the bedrooms in honor of past famous lodgers and worked tirelessly to re-create a bedroom they would have loved. My two favorites are the Peggy Guggenheim Bedroom Suite and the Somerset Maugham Suite.
The Peggy Guggenheim Bedroom Suite, named after the famous art collector and her epynomous museum across the Grand Canal. Beautiful 1930’s inspired furniture adorn the space, and the eclectic and highly original details (the cornices!) make for a stunning space. Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.
English novelist and playwright Somerset Maugham’s Suite. The 81-square-meter suite is adorned in luxurious 18th century inspired fabrics and antique furnishings, interesting curiosity objects and offers a scattering of the author’s novels. Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.
Another wonderful part of the renovation was the Redentore Terrace Suite with its private 250 square-meter terrace:
The Palace opened its doors in 2013 to great acclaim and Chewning is happy to share there have been no floods since the renovations!
All photos of the hotel courtesy www.thegrittipalace.com