This article is part of our Design special section about new interpretations of antique design styles.
One might describe Andrew Trotter’s passion for Puglia, in southern Italy, as a slow burn. The British-born, Barcelona-based designer first visited the region, which forms the heel of Italy’s geographic boot, about a decade ago. His close friend Carlo Lanzini planned to create a boutique hotel that would cater to the growing number of travelers lured by Puglia’s charming medieval villages, its sun-bleached landscape dotted with ancient olive groves and its nearly 500 miles of coastline, featuring picturesque coves with limestone cliffs and lovely sand beaches.
Mr. Lanzini enlisted his help in finding and renovating a masseria, the name of the traditional whitewashed farmhouses found across the Pugliese countryside. “We went twice, both times in the winter, and I didn’t actually like it very much,” said Mr. Trotter. “It’s a place that’s grown on me rather than an immediate love.”
At that time Mr. Trotter, who is 51, had recently left a career in fashion, launched a short-lived Barcelona design shop and co-founded Openhouse, a boutique and gallery that evolved into a semiannual interiors and lifestyle magazine, with his friend Mari Luz Vidal, a photographer. Having studied interior design and spent a year at the London firm of Anouska Hempel in the early ’90s, it was a return to his roots.
When Mr. Lanzini ultimately decided to construct a new masseria-inspired building for his hotel venture, near the town of Ostuni, Mr. Trotter put himself forward to oversee its design. After some convincing, he got the gig, and the resulting six-guestroom Masseria Moroseta “very quickly became a little bit famous,” as Mr. Trotter put it, leading to other commissions designing and renovating vacation homes in Puglia, including for Mr. Lanzini as well as new clients who admired Mr. Trotter’s minimalist yet warm aesthetic.
While Studio Andrew Trotter soon had projects in locations around the world, Mr. Trotter and his domestic partner — the firm’s business manager, Marcelo Martinez, 31, who is Spanish — continued to travel to Puglia regularly. They decided to look for a residence in the region that could serve as their base and as an income-generating rental property when they weren’t using it. Their search led them to the southern Pugliese town of Soleto, in the heart of the Salento peninsula, where a centuries-old house, tucked into a…