In a small village in Italy’s Etna region, designer Pietro Marcantoni decided to convert the garage of a 1980s building into his home. The result? A practical and functional space that the creator calls a “white box” — the container of his most significant memories. The style of the materials and finishes maintains the garage identity while still creating a cozy and refined atmosphere.

Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: Pietro Marcantoni and Max, his golden retriever
Location: Nicolosi, Catania, Sicily, Italy
Size:1,400 square feet (130 square meters), comprising a living room, porch, bedroom, bathroom and laundry room. The house also has a garden.
Year built: 1980
Renovation year: 2006
That’s interesting: Marcantoni designed the iron window frames. Another unique feature is the absence of doors, save for one in the bathroom.

Maria Aloisi, original photo on Houzz

“The design phase was a lot of fun, no challenges or risks,” Marcantoni says, adding that his vision for the renovation was clear from the get-go: “To redevelop a garage in industrial style without distorting its essence.”

Indeed, every design detail was chosen to preserve the feel of the dwelling’s original purpose. For instance, the drain pipes coming down from the upper floors were left exposed and covered with simple zinc sheets.

The plate glass coffee table was found at a building site and repurposed.

Couch: Tufty-Time, designed by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia

Marcantoni has an eclectic set of interests and says that he feels a little bit like “a thief of passions” since many of the objects in his home once belonged to experts in the various disciplines with which he has always been fascinated. For example, the bike in the living room is a custom-made Benotto that Marcantoni bartered away from an originally reluctant owner.

 Maria Aloisi, original photo on Houzz

Moving through the large open space, one never loses the sense of being inside of a garage. The ceilings are lower than in the average home, but the large rectangular windows and white color palette brighten the interior and connect it to the outdoors.

The TV console was carved from a block of chestnut wood from Etna “to emphasize the impact of an element that is simple by nature,” Marcantoni says.

 Maria Aloisi, original photo on Houzz

Related: Curate an Industrial Look With Metal Dining Chairs

Marcantoni prefers relaxed and casual spaces to formal ones. To make all his friends feel at home, he created a comfortable ambience by designing a kitchen that is warm, open and ready for guests.

The bar is the owner’s design. He purchased the yellow light fixture in a small shop in the Sicilian countryside. Marcantoni says he didn’t choose it for its design qualities but “fell in love at first sight after seeing it in a dusty shop window with the price tag still in lire, the old Italian currency.”

A dining area was essential, but Marcantoni didn’t want it to feel cold and formal. He set it up in an enclosed porch to make it “feel like a sunroom, where you can share a meal in a special environment surrounded by lush greenery.”

The Zettel’z chandelier by Ingo Maurer, hung with customizable slips of paper, adds an even more welcoming vibe to the room. Marcantoni loves reading the messages left by his guests after a dinner party or an event.

He designed the table himself. It has an interesting detail: Each of its legs is different.

 Maria Aloisi, original photo on Houzz

The roof covering the porch has a soft and asymmetrical shape.

The exterior siding accentuates the industrial style of the house and preserves the garage identity.

 Maria Aloisi, original photo on Houzz

Back inside, the bedroom is light and spacious with white resin flooring that brightens the room by reflecting light.

A painting by Marcantoni’s friend Maria Aloisi (who also took the photos for this article) hangs on the wall and doubles as a headboard.

Open closets are practical and give the space a more intimate feel.

 Maria Aloisi, original photo on Houzz

One of the things Marcantoni is proudest of is the shower: “It’s so roomy and comfortable, you can really spend quality time in it!” Simple, low-cost materials — mortar and white paint — were used to cover the walls.

Related: How to Bring a Spa Experience Home With Steam Showers