Francesca Puccio has been transforming Belgian homes since 2006, renovating them with expertise, taste, and – above all – love. “You want a home that fills you with pride and joy. Not a home you tiptoe into, but a real home that fits your lifestyle and your dreams,” begins the Italian-born creative.
TEXT: LAURA GOZZI | PHOTOS: STANDING RENOVATION
Her business, Standing Renovation, breathes life into homes that have been neglected and turns them into spaces filled with personal touches and carefully curated accents. Only 15 years ago, however, Puccio was working in IT, a decidedly less glamorous environment – until her childhood passion for all things art and design came calling.
The transition from the corporate sector to a more fickle creative environment must have been daunting – yet, Puccio says the change didn’t scare her. The very day she decided she would quit her company, she was called in for a meeting and offered a redundancy package, which ended up paying for her to go back to university to study heritage conservation: “They basically paid me to leave! So I thought: this is a sign.”
A lifelong passion
Puccio started working as a renovation specialist in 2004 and set up Standing Renovation in 2010, drawing upon her background in civil engineering and architecture, as well as a lifelong passion for art, style and design.
“My idea was to inspire better living by providing a service that goes beyond pure architectural renovation – so a blend of advice and design work with the aim of accompanying the client through the journey of renovation, from deciding what to do to making it happen and creating a home that perfectly suits their individual needs, including furniture if they so wish.”
Despite having lived in Brussels for almost two decades, Puccio says her Italian roots are at the core of her business. She credits her country of origin for the “personal touch” she says her clients appreciate – “I guess it’s very Italian, very natural, and I find it very easy to create a connection with people” – as well as her eye for beauty: “In Milan, you are surrounded by a sense of elegance, taste and style. It’s something that’s simply innate to everything I design.”
In Belgium, however, she found the perfect canvas for her business: the architecture of Brussels. While interior designers in Italy mostly work on flats, the Belgian capital features a variety of architectural styles that Puccio reinvents and transforms.
Reimagining Belgian homes
“There are a lot of houses that date back to the end of the 19th century and the early 1900s, when urbanisation really took place. Often, they have all these beautiful original features like decorated ceilings, mouldings, glass, stained glass, yet they’ve remained quite affordable.” In Brussels and its surroundings, Puccio gets to work with elegant 1930s apartments, “very bourgeois” 1950s homes with big spaces and grand 1900s townhouses, which are her personal favourite.
“My dream projects are those where I completely renovate art nouveau and art deco style Belgian homes, from foundational architectural plans to inspired interior design, creating a full project including furniture. The aim would be to sympathetically give it a second life like I do with spaces that have been underexploited, neglected, misused and sometimes almost ruined by the way they have been treated,” she says.
With strong purpose at the heart of Standing Renovation, Puccio strives to help make life beautiful, believing that everyone deserves to be happy, especially in their own home, and that in fact, any house can become a home if it’s treated with love.
Thinking back to the holiday home in Italy that her family returns to every year, she says: “Why do we sometimes feel that a house we only visit for two weeks a year is a home? Why are we attached to certain homes more than others, even if they’re not our own?” Puccio thinks it comes down to “the energy of a place that makes you feel the love, care and reflection that people have put into it. They’ve done it not just for themselves, but for everyone to enjoy.”
Any new project Standing Renovation engages in starts with a characteristically structured approach and Puccio spending time with her clients. “My aim is never to tell them what to do. It’s not about imposing my taste. Instead, I avidly listen to ensure I really understand their taste, their lifestyle, and ultimately their dreams. Translating everything they want and enhancing it to create beautiful environments. I want to create a connection with them and find out what they really want for their own space, but I always do it from a place of love, contribution and giving.”