1st March marks exactly two years since we moved into the house – the renovation project in Istria which has been the most amazing journey! Two years ago today, the day before all of our belongings arrived from England – we sat in an icy cold kitchen, watching our breath as we talked, taking in our new surroundings. Apart from essentials we’d bought in IKEA to tide us over, the house was largely empty. The previous owners had left some furniture for us, until ours arrived, but comfort definitely wasn’t the order of the day.

The day we moved in...

The day we moved in…

Fast forward two years and it’s a very different story. The house now feels like a home. It’s full of our familiar belongings from England, as well as new things we’ve acquired along the way. The structure of the house is still the same, but wow, the interior is so, so different. Previous posts on this blog document what we – and our builders – have achieved, and we are staggered at what’s been done. We’ve developed new skills and done things we would never have thought possible. We’ve definitely become much more competent DIY-ers and are beginning to understand how to get things done in Istria. #nomeanfeat

So, a quick gallery of what we’ve done over the winter…

The Well Room...

The Well Room…

We discovered that the back external wall was starting to become damp and before anything major took hold, we took action. Our builder firstly painted the wall with a charcoal coloured sealant, before attaching large polystyrene tiles across its entirety. Insulation was then installed into a cavity, which had been created after a false wall had been built – with a ledge, with soft LED lights. The whole wall was plastered, sanded, replastered and fine sanded again. They don’t do things by halves here! We’ve still not absolutely been able to establish what the concrete platform in the photo above, was for, but we’re using it to create a day bed/sofa. This was painted with mould-resistant paint, and then like the back wall, painted white. Foam pads, cushions and throws were returned to their rightful place, and we now have a very comfy seating area in the Well Room, as well as additional soft lighting.

Day bed/sofa : The Well Room

Day bed/sofa : The Well Room

Our beautiful lightshades, bought in Moth in West Didsbury, are now suspended above the new concrete table, giving another glow of soft light, and the navy blue wall, outside the renovated downstairs bathroom, has been softened up with a tumbling display of faux cream flowers.

Ceramic lightbulb shaped prendants from Moth, West Didsbury

Ceramic lightbulb shaped prendants from Moth, West Didsbury

We are very lucky to have an internal cellar (as well as an outside cellar), but it was becoming a dumping ground.

 

The internal cellar...

The internal cellar…

We realised that this room had so much more potential and felt that we could create a very cosy, hygge-led room, right under the living room. Months and months ago, we had our Dovre woodburner (bought from The Stove Room in West Didsbury and brought over to Istria) installed, and we were itching to make use of this room and get it lit again. We decide to create The Snug – somewhere to watch TV, listen to vinyl, generally chill out – and this spurred us on to DIY renovate this room.

Same viewpoint as photo above...

Same viewpoint as photo above, with new chimney & installed Dovre woodburner…

The Snug

The Snug…

We deliberately painted all internal walls white, so that we had a blank canvas while we were getting used to the size of the rooms and how the light changed throughout the day/night, and we’re at the stage now where we can see where we can inject big pops of colour. The newly renovated kitchen has been the most obvious palce where we’ve introduced colour…

This weekend’s DIY project is going to focus on the big main bedroom, which is still all white, with soft grey coloured beams. We think that we can be bold in this room, colour-wise, as it is ridiculously massive – definitely the biggest room we’ve ever had! So, we’re going for a statement wall, in a dark/bottle green – still to decide on exact colour, but we’ll be using these ideas for inspiration…

Green inspiration...

Green inspiration…

We seem to have spent FOREVER painting – the end results are brilliant, but I hate waiting for paint to dry, especially satinwood. So, I have been embracing the spray paint as drying time is almost immediate and it means I can very quickly revamp/upcycle/change accessories – and furniture – around the house. Hot pink and banana yellow, as well as greys and charcoals, have featured quite heavily, but this week, I’ve been getting blinged up with gold. Gold has never been my colour of choice, but I’ve dipped my toe in the water with lovely bits of rose gold accessories, and after visiting the most beautiful bar in Ljubljana recently – all navy & gold – I’ve gone for it. Familiar lanterns and tealight holders and pots, and even an IKEA Hektar floorlamp,  have taken on a whole new lease of life, shimmering as they now do…

Before & After : Charcoal v Gold

Before & After : Charcoal v Gold

But – and I am most delighted about this one – is the transformation of an art deco French enamelled woodburner. We bought this when we moved into our house in West Didsbury in 2000, from an antiques shop in Hebden Bridge. However, we never had it renovated and so it was never used as a woodburner. Instead it was moved from pillar to post, from room to room, from indoors to outdoors and finally from country to country. For the best part of the last two years, it’s sat outside in the garden, exposed to hot summer suns, icy winters and torrential downpours – and in much need of some TLC. It was in such a bad state of repair, that I took the decision that even if my reno plan didn’t work, it wouldn’t matter that much. But it did! And, here she is, now sitting in our living room.

And I have promised that I will step away from the gold spray paint…

*Honest*.