Nuvolette : Cole & Son

Nuvolette : Cole & Son

In a previous post I wrote about our desire to eradicate the parts of internal walls which have not been plastered and are still the original Istrian stone. Some people would love the walls, but as the years have gone on, I have to say my love of exposed stone – albeit now painted white – has waned and I am craving smooth, plastered walls. Some will be painted (probably white again), and for others we are considering pigmented plaster. But for the living room walls, once all is smooth, I am looking back to the beautiful wallpaper we had in our house in West Didsbury, when we renovated it,

This beautiful repeat pattern paper is Nuvolette, by Cole & Son, and is a dramatic cloudy sky mural by the Italian artist Piero Fornasetti. Unless you are an expert at wall paper hanging, I’d recommend that you do what we did, and get in a professional to hang it. The striking design is supplied in a set of two rolls, with the pattern repeat being 80cm. I was informed this mean a straight match between roll A to roll B and a half-drop between roll B to roll A of next set…

See! Told you a professional is your best bet.

The overall effect is absolutely stunning, especially if the wall to be covered is quite a large area. We used it on one feature wall only, with ceramic bulb drop pendants in front of it, and it was very dramatic. I really do miss this wallpaper now that we have moved, but I think it may make a re-appearance, once the walls in the living room are all smooth and plastered. It’s definitely not the cheapest wallpaper, but it’s very strong and sturdy and I think if you love it, there’s little chance you’ll be wanting to change it quickly. I do wonder if it is still hanging in our West Didsbury house…

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.

 

 

Six Years On…

Six Years On…

Looking back over photos taken when we came out to view the house in Istria, and stay over as guests of the owners, has been a real experience. I can remember, obviously, what condition the house and garden was in – pretty awful, to be fair! – but as we live in the house full time, and have therefore lived through the whole renovation project, it’s sometimes easy to forget what we have actually achieved. So, this week I’ve been recreating the original photos, so that I have a visual record of what six years on looks like…

We had a vision for the stone house we viewed, for the second time, in October 2016, and this helped us to see through the condition it was in. We knew that this was a fantastic opportunity to take on a new challenge and a new direction, and so we went for it. We think that we have really brought this house back to life – but there’s still more we want to do. And that’s the challenge for the coming months. As much as we’re delighted with what we’ve achieved so far, if we can accomplish our latest vision, this house will really become something else…

 

An Anniversary…

An Anniversary…

Sunday 16th October 2016 saw us meeting up with the couple who we were buying our Istrian home from, and staying over in the house. With hindsight, all a bit bizarre. But then, not much about this adventure has been normal, so I guess we started off as we were meant to go on. It was a bright early autumn day, still warm us for us to initially meet up for lunch in Novigrad, and sit outside the restaurant, eating fresh fish, overlooking the Adriatic. It was also the day of the Chestnut Festival in Oprtalj – our hosts took us there, but to our amazement, this medieval hilltop town, which we are now so familiar with, was so packed we literally could not get a parking space. So, we headed off to the house.

Yesterday, six years later, the weather was exactly the same. And the Chestnut Festival was happening again, in Oprtalj. This time though, we didn’t even bother setting off for the festival as we knew how busy it would be, and unlike six years ago, our living room was just too far too comfy to even contemplate leaving. And, for avoidance of doubt, the “Before” is on the left…

Remembering that I took a lot of photos of the house on 16th October, I’ve spent part of today re-photographing the exact shots. I have thousands of photos of the house, but thought it might be quite nice to see the actual shots, juxtaposed against the “now” photos. Especially as there’s every chance we’re about to embark on the next round of renovation. So, the full Then & Now coming up soon…

Changing Our View…

Changing Our View…

Coming up to three years ago, we were very excited when one of the tumble down, abandoned houses beyond our property was demolished and heavy machinery arrived in the village. We were even more excited at the prospect of the neighbour building a new house, in the style – we were assured – of his current two, which are very pretty. The Istrian stones were cleared, and foundations seemed to go in pretty quickly. A crane arrived, creating even more excitement, as no-one surely, in their right mind, installs a crane. And then does sod all with it. Or, so we thought…

Two years and a bit later, the crane is still there. Along with a cement mixer and lots of building materials, but not much else. Now, this isn’t unusual in Istria. As is commonplace in many Mediterranean countries, building work can take a long time. Builders are often working on multiple projects. In the height of summer it is way too hot to be doing long days of heavy construction work. Buildings may be being built as holiday homes, and so owners often arrange for work to be done when they are able to be on site. There’s also a real culture of mañana mañana here. So, we get it. We know that construction work takes times. And so we’ve been patient, as the project behind our home has crawled along, with periods of nothing in between slight flurries of mild activity. We’re in one of those periods of nothing happening now, as no-one has been on site for over three months.

However, our patience has now worn very, very thin. Written communication to the neighbour has proved fruitless as our requests for information re the progress of the work, and maybe a possible end date, have gone unanswered. Builders have from time to time, assured us (when they have been on site) that all is progressing and that when it is finished, and landscaped, it will be very beautiful. Of that we have no doubt. But it’s the WHEN – because until someone pulls their finger out, and “when” actually arrives, we are still looking out onto a building site, no matter what we do to hide it.

Our living room (pictured above) is on the first floor, and so even with the border of the potted conifers we have installed, you can still see the building site beyond. This is something which has been repeatedly brought up by viewers, asking about timescales for the construction work – and, as the neighbours have so far not deemed it important to discuss/share their plans with us, there’s been very little we’ve been able to say. So, we’ve decided that we’ll take things into our hands and do what we can do to improve our own outlook.

Within our boundaries, we also own the little stone house, above. This was purchased from a neighbour and is definitely in need of renovation. We thought that it would potentially be an amazing selling point, as once renovated it would provide additional accommodation. But most viewers seemed to see it only as additional work, and the potential didn’t have the appeal we expected it to have. Either that, or we just had a run of very un-curious and project-shy house viewers! So, a big decision has been made.

We’re exploring having the small house demolished and building a boundary wall, thereby creating an enclosed rear garden. We think if anyone comes along in the future and says they’d have bought our house, if only there had been a small building included in the sale, with scope to renovate, then we’ll take it on the chin. We’re still working out the best way to do this, but the eventual wall, will be rendered. It will also be a high wall – high enough to give us 100% privacy from the outside. And because of its height, we’ll hopefully have a panel (or panels) made up of glass bricks on the wall opposite the main house, meaning that light will still flood into the garden. Foliage will be planted to give extra depth and interest, along with lighting. I’m very much liking the examples below, and at least now I have a better idea of what to show to a builder to begin to explain our thinking.

Access to the rear garden is currently via the communal grassed area to the side of the main house. We intend to open up the living room window by installing French windows and creating a small balcony with external steps leading down into the garden, meaning that this communal path will not need to be used. Access to the garden, will be from the house. And, if funds allow, the final piece of the jigsaw will be the installation of a pool, along the lines of a Dip Tank. Therefore also addressing the second most asked question – “Do you have a pool?”

So, roll on autumn as we’re heading towards another BIG project!