Raising the roof: lofty ambitions in Lisbon

London-based designer Rui Ribeiro returns to his roots to create a pied-à-terre in the Portuguese capital

When the London-based interior designer Rui Ribeiro set about looking for a pied-à-terre in Lisbon, it took him five years to find the ideal place. “I wanted an apartment in an old building and it was imperative for me that it had a lift and a garage,” he says. He was also intent on buying in the historic Chiado district, where he had lived in his late-teens and early 20s. “It was so different back then,” he recalls, “there was a certain innocence about Lisbon 30 years ago that is not there any more. There were few foreigners and few restaurants. Design-wise, there was absolutely nothing.”

Things have changed significantly. Pre-Covid, Chiado had become a magnet for tourists, although a number of elderly inhabitants remain. “That helps to maintain some of its original character,” says Ribeiro, who was born in Angola, but brought up largely in Portugal. He moved to London in the early 90s and, since setting up his own practice in 2008, has become a regular fixture on House and Garden’s annual list of top 100 interior designers. His projects include an Arts and Crafts house in Chelsea, a 16th-century weekend retreat in West Sussex and residences in the Middle East.

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