Getting plastered…

Getting plastered…

Original stone walls, partly exposed and partly plastered

Original stone walls, when we moved in, partly exposed and partly plastered.

Throughout the house, in most of the rooms – apart from the ones we have totally taken apart and renovated – there is still evidence of it being an original Istrian house. A lot of the walls are either fully plastered, or at least, partially. And where they are only partially plastered, we’ve painted the original stones white, so that the rooms have more of a contemporary feel.

Original stone walls, painted white.

Original stone walls, painted white.

We did start renovating the walls some years ago, when we had a false wall constructed in the Well Room, with insulation, over the stone wall. The intention was to go through the house, repeating the process, but as with all renovations, unexpected tasks always take precedence.

So, here we are, still where we were. Admittedly, not with bare stone, which I quickly started to dislike because it was dark and made the rooms feel cold, but even when whited out, still not really what I wanted. So, the decision has been made, and the plastering of the bulk of the remaining stone will be done over the winter. I say “the bulk”, because we will leave little nods to the origins of the house, here and there – but as features, rather than the predominant look.

The Well Room will hopefully be the first room to be tackled, as it’s the room with the most exposed stone. We’ll also be doing something quite controversial but more of that later, as we’re still working on the practicalities. Because none of our walls are straight, we’re going to hopefully go with the wonkiness of the house and not get caught up in, and stressed by, the fact we don’t live in a box. So the walls won’t be perfect – but the plastering will. And the next thought process is whether we go for plaster with a pigment, rather than doing a big re-paint job…

I do love the softness of the pink tones of this plasterwork, but we need to have a big discussion, as to whether this will work or not in our house. I’m prepared to accept it won’t, but definitely like the idea of having even just a chat about it. Whatever we decide is right, will be a real improvement on what we have at the moment, so looking forward to getting going and making some BIG changes in this room.

 

 

kitchen reno : update 1

kitchen reno : update 1

A few days on from the last renovation update and a lot has happened, kitchen-wise. The stones from the kitchen window hole have been saved and the red bricks which were below the chimney have been taken out. These will be replaced by the stones which have been removed, meaning that the front of the house will now look cohesive. The overly elaborate pot has been taken off the chimney above the kitchen, and the chimney capped. We’ll not be using it and it seemed a bit too “top heavy” but now looks balanced, and just right.

Health & safety does not seem to be a huge consideration out here – Misko and Sergio clamber the very precarious looking scaffolding, like mountain goats. And, not a hard hat in sight. Plenty of cigarettes, though!

Slowly, but surely, the dismantling & demolition continues...

Slowly, but surely, the dismantling & demolition continues…

The long-awaited for Istrian stone window surrounds arrived yesterday – and they really are things of beauty. Milky white/cream and just like marble, they will hopefully be really complemented by the new colour of the window frames and shutters. The bottom piece has gone in but we must be patient and wait until it all sets before the other three pieces can be installed. In the meantime, we just keep admiring these beautiful slabs…

Istrian stone window surrounds.

Istrian stone window surrounds.

One in, three to go...

One in, three to go…

 

the kitchen reno begins

the kitchen reno begins

For the past few days, we’ve been clearing out the kitchen and creating a makeshift one in the Well Room, as work is beginning on the first big renovation project. Things are getting serious!

Time to get rid of this awful kitchen...

Time to get rid of this awful kitchen…

Meanwhile, our builders have been beavering away in the kitchen, stripping out the false ceiling. This was low and only plasterboard, and knew from the external shape of the kitchen roof, that there’s likely be beams above it – a hammer through the ceiling confirmed this and so there was no going back. We were going to have an apex ceiling, with beams.

No going back...

No going back…

Part of the roof packing...

Part of the roof packing – firewood…

 

Exposed, after goodness who knows how long...

Exposed, after goodness who knows how long…

After yesterday’s excitement of taking down the false ceiling – plus removing a dead mouse, numerous critters and a hornets’ nest – today was always going to be a bit of anti-climax in terms of progress. However, in the short time that Misko and Sergio were here, they achieved an awful lot. In order to get the positioning of the new window spot-on, they did a bit of a mini move-around of cupboards and appliances. And after nine months of a poorly laid out kitchen, they temporarily nailed it – could have saved ourselves a bit of money

And, today, the scaffolding arrived. It was brought to us by Edo, a lovely Dutch guy who has really helped us ease into Istrian life, as he did the same thing 12 years ago. He brought the scaffolding to us because he was already going to Sergio’s, as he was taking hay for Sergio’s horse. Which Sergio doesn’t ride. He keeps it as a pet. Just when we thought we couldn’t like Sergio any more.

The ricketiest looking scaffolding we have ever seen...

The ricketiest looking scaffolding we have ever seen…

Anyway, it was lovely to see Edo again – plans were made for getting together after Xmas, when he’s back from Rotterdam and we’re back from our travels. It feels good to be forging friendships in a foreign country.

The walls in the house are very thick – at certain points being nearly 80cms thick. One of those points is where we want the new kitchen window, which we thought would present quite a challenge. Not so! With only a hammer drill and a chisel, huge slabs of stone were quickly being removed, revealing what had once been an internal chimney, still full of the black soot – and red soil, which Misko told us what was used pre-concrete days. All of the stones have been saved and these will be re-used, probably in the garden. Waste not, want not.

Creating a new window opening.

Creating a new window opening.

Pretty soon, the hole was sufficiently big enough for us to get an idea of what the kitchen will eventually be like when daylight floods in. (The current window is north-ish facing, so apart from very early in the morning, we don’t get much sunlight in the kitchen – the new window will give us sunlight in the afternoon and into the evening).

Much excitement as the new window started to emerge.

Much excitement as the new window started to emerge.

The brickwork at the top still needs to be removed, and that will be done tomorrow – and then in will go the newly cut Istrian stone surrounds. The frame and casement windows have been sanded, prepped, undercoated and glossed, so they’re ready too, for their new home.

Because the weather today has been sunny – and warm, when the sun has been at the front of the house – we’ve also had to take the opportunity to get as much as we can get done, in between client design work, to crack on with the exterior woodwork. This might not look too high, but our living room window is probably 10 foot above ground level – it took a little bit of coaxing to get my super decorator up the ladders, but he did it!

For someone who hates heights, this was a brilliant job today...

For someone who hates heights, this was a brilliant job today…

Meanwhile, we think that for a good few days yet, we’ll only have a plastic sheet between us and the elements, as work still needs to be carried out on the stone lintels, before the window can be fitted.

We're hoping that winter doesn't arrive just yet...

We’re hoping that winter doesn’t arrive just yet…