Who lives here?
Former MKR contestants Zana Pali, who is set to open Culpa, an espresso bar in Melbourne, and her husband Gianni Romano, a lawyer.
Who took charge of the home’s amazing interiors?
Zana: “That was me, but Gianni had lots of input, too. We work really well together. My parents are property developers, and I’ve always loved helping them with colour schemes and design.”
Did you have a moodboard during the build?
Zana: “I did. I took screenshots of everything that I loved on Instagram and Pinterest– thousands of photos that gave me ideas and inspiration.”
Anything left on the to-do list?
Gianni: “I’d like to do more gardening. The garden still needs more landscaping.”
"We got through MKR, so building this house together was easy!"Zana
Just as you would expect from a couple who became known as the design-loving legal eagles on Channel Seven’s hit reality cooking show My Kitchen Rules, there are liberal doses of style, drama and glamour sprinkled throughout Zana Pali and Gianni Romano’s contemporary new home. Take the expansive kitchen island encased in a slab of black and gold stone, and illuminated by a sparkling trio of copper pendants.
There are also some surprisingly offbeat additions to the sleek abode, positioned in one of Melbourne’s bayside suburbs, not least of which is the rather enormous – 255cm high and 240cm long, to be precise – gleaming black stallion that resides under the stairs, delighting all who visit the property. Zana and Gianni spotted the replica Front Design ‘Horse Lamp’ at Sokol, and instantly knew they had to have it in their home.
There was, however, one not-so-minor problem – finding a space large enough to stable it. “He’s such a statement piece and we both loved him straight away – but then we had to figure out where he’d fit,” says Gianni. “Luckily, the stair void works perfectly. Everyone who comes over talks about him, takes photos of him and gives him a name, everything from Phar Lap to the Italian Stallion.”
“The round shape of the table is really social – much more so than a rectangular one”Zana
While Zana and Gianni’s home showcases the pair’s love of the unexpected and dramatic – “I do love a bit of leopard print,” says Zana – more delicate touches include beautiful artwork, luxe soft furnishings and treasured collectables, all on display in the spacious home that features beautiful high ceilings and expanses of glazing. “Lots of natural light was really important to us,” says Zana, who this month is set to open Culpa (Latin for ‘guilty’), a specialty Italian espresso bar in the heart of Melbourne’s court district.
“Don’t be afraid to take risks because it’s sure to pay off in the end”Zana
Other treasures include a lush vertical garden in the central courtyard, as well as a lap pool out the back, which was a must-have for the pair. “I come from Brisbane, so I really needed a pool and a patch of real grass to make me feel at home,” says Gianni. “We both love the outdoors and love to have family over.”
Of course, Zana and Gianni enjoy cooking up a storm for their extended clan and friends every chance they get. “We learnt such a lot about food and cooking on MKR, and we really do love entertaining,” says Gianni. “I love making desserts – anything to do with chocolate.” Adds Zana: “He makes the best chocolate pudding ever, while I love making savoury dishes. I think we complement each other really well.”
The kitchen centrepiece has to be the luxe black and gold stone island from Eaglestone Creations, which provides a statement-making contrast with the more traditional white and grey marble splashback and workbench. “We went to the showroom and looked at the actual slabs of stone and loved both types,” says Gianni. Adds Zana: “It was a little bit of a risk to use the two together in the kitchen – and my parents thought we were crazy at first – but we think it’s worked out really well.” ‘Linear’ matte white stools by Space To Create offer an easy seat, while the trio of Italian copper pendants from Fesal inject another touch of bling. A black Zip tap from E&S creates a dramatic silhouette against the pale backdrop.
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