HOME TOUR: Artful Living in a Newport Loft

Book Excerpt: Shades of White: Serene Spaces for Effortless Living by Fifi O’Neill

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Bernadette Heydt personifies the saying “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Her late grandfather was a prominent contractor in New York City and one of the main contributors to building several of the Big Apple’s most iconic landmarks. Her admiration for those accomplishments, combined with growing up alongside her father’s love of restoring unique properties, led her to her passion. “I knew interior design was what I wanted to pursue after years of witnessing my father’s appreciation for how architectural design can be both beautiful and functional,” she says. But it wasn’t until she was 19 and living in Italy that she decided to pursue her passion and enroll at the acclaimed Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, where she received her bachelor’s degree in interior design.

Fast-forward to 2013 when Heydt, who owns Heydt Home, an interior design firm, and Heydt + Mason, a full-service creative agency, and her Italian-born husband, Andrea Pietrangeli, a videographer, moved back to the States to pursue their careers. Shortly after they settled in Newport, they purchased a property composed of three buildings dating back to the early 1800s. Throughout the years, the complex  has served various functions, but it was originally used as horse stables and storage for their carriages. Today, craftsmen, painters, sculptors, and photographers call the lovingly renovated compound home.

Despite its tiny footprint, the loft Heydt and Pietrangeli designed and share lives large and well. Built on a foundation of white, the space feels luminous, light, and airy. And though the floor plan is wide open, it emanates an intimate vibe. “After many years of living in Europe, a large home didn’t seem like a necessity,” Heydt explains. “Considering the space is only 700 square feet, the key goal was to keep the layout open and only add walls where it was absolutely necessary while keeping functionality, balance, proportion, and scale in mind.”

Inspired by her years abroad, Heydt wanted to incorporate the crisp white stucco look seen in the homes of southern Italy. “We had to be strategic with the layout and maximize the use of space, so we built shelving into the walls to add storage, and in doing so we were able to achieve the Mediterranean feel we were after,” she says. Her creativity comes through in her European minimalist yet cozy approach, the neutral backdrop, and by relying on natural materials like wood and leather to add texture and warmth. “I love mixing modern clean lines with vintage  or worldly items,” says Heydt. “The marriage between the two aesthetics brings out an authenticity that is both elegant and unique.”

The idea of living in a tiny home can be intimidating, but when everything you own serves a purpose and is used on a daily basis, and when it means you display only meaningful pieces, the tradeoff is worth it. “Designing a tiny home requires thoughtful solutions in order to fit all the utilities that a modern home demands,” Heydt concludes. “Yet there is nothing we lack that a 2,500-square-foot home has – maybe just fewer rooms to vacuum!”

Learn more about Fifi O’Neill here. 

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