Fresh New Look for Casa Bianca Kitchen

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The renovation of the Casa Bianca kitchen is slowly coming along, we were aiming to have it finished before Sam’s parents arrived from Australia but then we each fell sick in turn. Sam did manage to get the finish on the wall and ceiling, and he has started the floor tiles (which look great) but we still have a bit to finish.

Sams parents are here for three months and we thought it easier for us and them if they stayed in our Loft Apartment rather than the Casa Bianca kitchen makeover at least for the time being. Of course they are now sick with the gastro bug that has been going around the village and poor things haven’t been out all day.

We are planning a trip to Malta with the inlaws maybe in late April or May, only for a week but it will be so nice to get some sunshine and to have a paddle in the ocean. I am looking forward to summer and getting some warmth back in my bones…. and some sunshine, that would be nice.

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casa bianca kitchen dbl 2Once we are all back on our feet I’ll update you with our adventures. Until then this is just a short post to let you know we are all still alive and kicking, just taking it easy for a little while then back to normal….whatever that looks like!

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I can’t wait for the summer to arrive and for new visitors to befriend, the mountain is alive with flowers and the valley is coming to life. It looks like our cat Mia is pregnant again so I’m hoping I can find homes for any kittens in the village. Before you all ask it’s expensive to have them de-sexed at 80 euro each (we have three girls) and other things have priority like school books, and bus passes and general living without a fixed income. It’s all fun in the hood as my husband likes to say.

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Hope all is well with you and life is treating you kindly, more to follow asap once we are all feeling 100%…..much love

Lisa signature 2and the gang x

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Behind the Scenes: How to do an inexpensive makeover!

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Casa Bianca kitchen make over

 

An Inexpensive Makeover at Casa Bianca (Part One)

Why an Inexpensive Makeover?

Sam’s parents are coming over from Australia, that’s WHY!

It’s been three years since we’ve seen them and they are arriving here in the last week of March. They will be staying with us for three months. So they need a space of their own.

With our Loft Apartment taking bookings and our own house with only two bedrooms we need a place for them to stay in comfort and close by.

So Sam came up with the idea of a temporary inexpensive makeover at Casa Bianca (our 4 thousand euro bargain house next door). The old kitchen will transform into a three month bedsit and they will of course eat in the main house with us.

Create a time frame

A time frame with a deadline always helps to get things moving and boy are things moving around here. I love nothing more than getting my hands dirty helping Sam with renovating. We completed a dozen renovations in Australia (living in all of them arghh). It’s a way of life that most people hate and would normally break up many couples, we seem to thrive.

The arrival of an early spring has me in cleaning mode, I’m astonished at how much ‘stuff ‘ has crept back into our life. I have to say I do love my ‘stuff ‘ and could never be a minimalist, but some of this just has to go.

Once Sam says he will do something it gets done, he has great organization skills and the know how to put it all into practice. They say men don’t multitask well but he has it to an art form, working on restoring the borgata, making lunch, picking up and dropping off the kids to school, making salami, preserves, and generally keeping everything running smoothly.

I am the calm on in the partnership, smoothing the way…..lol.

Totally clear the space

The first thing to be done is to totally clear the space.

Don’t work around things, and be sure to clean as you go.

We spent a day moving everything from the house up to our garage.

We’d been using Casa Bianca as storage for all the ‘treasures’ we found when we first arrived. So it was full of old bottles, baskets, furniture, an original bed frame, old suitcases, and a multitude of bits and bobs.

Visualize the space

Planning the space will save you time and frustration later, it’s fairly easy to do this on a computer or even just sketched out in a notebook.

Gather inspiration and look for ideas, I have hundreds of images, I take after my Mum as she always has a notebook in her handbag to jot down any ideas she sees. I keep my camera with me and take photos of things I like and ‘pin’ things I see online to my Casa Bianca inspiration board on Pinterest.

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If you are working on any project Pinterest is a great way to keep everything together, just be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole and become one of those people who sit online pinning all day.

Keep the purpose in mind, although at a latter date the house will be restored as a whole for now we need to create a space for Sams parents.

The Casa Bianca of my dreams will still happen, just not now.

Keeping costs low

Reuse as many items as possible, we seem to throw nothing away here at the Borgata. In our own home we took the old board up from the floor in the lounge and ended up sanding them back and reusing them as a benchtop and shelving.

Call in some helpers, we have a great community of friends here who give us a hand in return for us helping them out. It’s a collaborative community and it helps us keep costs low.

Shop online for prices and don’t be afraid to haggle (Sam has this to an artform). Be aware that locals will get a better price so get a local friend to go with you to the local stores for the first few times.

Keeping it Simple

Using a simple color pallette will help keep costs down, the room will be recoated white and the texture gives it some depth.

This also means that we can use left over products on other renovations.

We can then add warmth with elements like soft furnishings or decorative elements on the walls.

Our Inexpensive Makeover – What we’ve has Done so far!

» Taken out the old window and security bars and replaced it with a ready made double glazed window from Bricoman which helped us to save on costs.

» Totally cleared the room of stored items like an old bed, the original windows, and items from other renovations.

» Removed the old staircase to the upper floor which was twisted and rotting. Cut up the wood to be used as firewood.

» Cleared the sink area, removing the sink and pipes.

» Taken out the old pantry cupboard, removing the doors and shelves to make a wardrobe  space.

» Sanded the wooden window ledge back to original timber ready for a clear coating.

» Scraped the walls and ceiling free of ridges and filled holes.

» Refinished the walls with stabilatura, a mixture that you trowel on.

» Currently replacing old flooring with ceramic tiles. These will be harder wearing than a floating floor. Bricoman had a good range and we found something we liked for 13 euro a square meter.

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Casa Bianca Kitchen

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So that’s it for our Inexpensive Makeover #1,

I’ll be posting the follow up next week. Sam has already started laying the floor tiles and they look great. Carina thinks the room would be a great teenager ‘flat’….I told her not a hope till she’s at least 16 lol.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog and follow along with the adventures, many things are in the works for 2016 here at Borgata Malpertus.

I’ll be posting the completion of our ‘mini apartment’ at Casa Bianca as we go, Sam is next door right now laying the floor tiles. Oh and it’s snowing which is why he has the little wood stove connected (yep borrowed from our friends).

Hope you enjoyed the post, I’m trying a new informative style for some of my writing here at Renovating Italy along with the diary style…..let me know what you think and if you have any questions or thoughts I’d love you to leave them below, and a share would be great.

love as always….

Lisa signature 2and the gang x

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Borgata Malpertus – be part of the project

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One big thing I’ve been working on is a new site dedicated to the restoration project here at Borgata Malpertus.

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This year we are looking to continue with the restoration here in the Borgata. We’d love you to come and join us in 2016 either here at the blog, over at facebook or with a visit in person.

It seems like all we did over the Christmas and New Year at Borgata Malpertus is eat, and eat and eat……lot’s of delicious treats we normally wouldn’t have through the year.

Snow has been falling and the Valley looks like something from a movie, Ponte Naploleone is especially beautiful with it’s dusting of snow. When we go for walks the dog and all the cats come along with us, it’s so funny.

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With our friends from Australia moving into the Valley it’s been all go here, with either us at their house or them at ours. We also had other friends staying with us for a week before they head back down to Naples. OH and then we all got sick in turn, first Luca, then Carina then me, and lastly our guest…..arghhh.

So we’re all back on deck now, the kids have returned to school after a two week break, we are living in the Apartment as it’s so warm and cosy. The Christmas tree is about to come down and it’s time to start planning for 2016.

We will be learning how to prune the apple orchard, planting the ‘orto’ (veggie gardens), raising chickens and rabbits (yep we eat them sorry), and at the end of this month we’ll be making salami the traditional way right here in the Borgata.

If you really want to experience the simple life this is the year to do it and we’d love you to stay with us and be a guest at the Loft Apartment!

We were so excited to be named winner of Italy Magazine ‘Best Living in Italy’ blog for the second year running. I would like to thank everyone that voted for us and know that this year we aim to build on all we have achieved so far.

If you’d like to connect with us and be part of the Borgata Malpertus project visit us at:

Borgata Malpertus Website
Borgata Malpertus on Facebook
Renovating Italy on Facebook
Renovating Italy Group on Facebook

If you’d like to arrange a stay here at Borgata Malpertus visit us at:

Stay with Us- be our guest at Borgata Malpertus

We love to actually ‘meet’ the people who sign up for Renovating Italy, so don’t be a stranger, come and say Ciao!

As you could imagine we get lots of emails and comments on the site and on our social media and I try to reply to everyone, that said if I don’t respond I do actually read every comment and I’m so happy to have such a great group of friends online.

Drop us a line and let us know your plans for 2016, it’s going to be a big year!!

 

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Loft Apartment Renovation

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Loft Apartment Opens – discover Bobbio Pellice

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 Returning to Bobbio Pellice

As soon as I heard the story of this family returning to Bobbio Pellice I was in love with the idea and even happier that they would be spending a night with us here in the Borgata.

They were on a journey to rediscover old friendships and retrace family from the Valley which ended happily when we were able to help Diana, her daughter Elisa and her granddaughters on their quest.

Our very first guests at the Loft Apartment only stayed for a night but it felt like we were long lost friends when they left later the next day. I was totally bewitched by Diana and all her stories of Bobbio Pellice, and the love within this little group staying with us.

Elisa your family are wonderful and it was just a joy to have you here with us.

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We were very lucky to be invited in with them to an old friends house. Her Borgata was on the hill overlooking Bobbio Pellice and had the most spectacular gardens. This lady served us the strongest liquor (home made) that I have ever had. Funnily enough it just happened to be her birthday.

The look on these two faces was priceless, such a joy to see them rediscover each other after all those years.

Of course being our first guests we made a few mistakes, one was not telling them to park on the road above rather than drive down into the Borgata. In the end they abandoned the car, came inside and Sam was able to reverse it out of the old road.

Elisa had been having nightmares about driving into an ever narrowing Italian road and this was it come true.

We are loving having visitors, Sam is in his element and right now we are hosting a lovely couple from America for two weeks.

Oh and we are also hosting a young woman (through a program called Workaway) she is originally from Russia and has grown up in California, the world is coming to Bobbio Pellice.

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As always much love to you from all the gang here at Malpertus.

What would be the one thing you’d love to do if you could come to visit Bobbio Pellice ?

and the gang x

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Courtyard Work – removing the original bread oven

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Entering the large double wooden gates to the the lower courtyard the first thing you see is the original bread oven. Dating to 1916 (the date carved in the rock oven door) and with a large area underneath used for the pigs we are told. Sadly the interior of the oven was beyond repair and crumbling away with huge cracks throughout.

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I try to imagine the borgata and valley back in 1916, during the first world war, we are walking in the footsteps of hundreds of years here each day. This oven would have provided the entire borgata with bread, I’d love to learn more about the history of our Borgata.

Anita who is now in her eighties was born here and has never left the Borgata, she lived through the second world war and saw both the Nazi’s and the Partisans walking through these very streets and past our big double doors.

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After discussing the idea with the local men here in the borgata Sam decided to take the oven out. I regret seeing it go but sometimes history has to move with the times and be practical as well as safe. We are slowly removing all the added touches in the house that would not have been original like the ugly metal railing. As much as possible we want to restore the house to it’s original state.

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The upper porch area will now run right to the exterior wall and the railing eventually replaced with timber. Originally a door was in the rock section leading to the house next door. We also found a doorway down in the back of the original bread oven that must have gone though to Casa Bianca. The two homes were once owned by the one family and now they are again owned by one family who want to protect and restore them.

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We have saved as many of the original terracotta bricks from the vaulted section as possible, most are just crumbling away in our hands. I know we’ll find a special place for them to be re used in the house. It’s fascinating to see how the vaulted original bread oven was built, a work of art. We had an original bread oven in our first home here in Italy at Borga Nari and even fired it up a few times.

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Our lower courtyard has been a bit of a mess for the past two weeks and is just now coming back to order. Once  the original bread oven  is totally removed  we can move the wood down from the upper level Sam will begin to work up in the back rooms. He has some good ideas for this area now after talking with our neighbor and seeing what is possible.

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Even though it has been cold and raining now for the past two weeks Sam has continued working to get this area finished. Then we will move the wood down to this area and have the entire back section of the upper floor for another project we are working on. More to come about that as the work progresses. The original bread oven is now gone and all that remains are the photos and the rock door dated 1916.

It’s a fine line between preserving the past and creating the future…….have you ever been torn between the two?

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Casa Bianca – renovating Italian houses

 

Renovating Italian Houses has become a little like renovating our lives

Slowly stripping back to the essentials, seeing what is missing, and adding a touch of love.

Finding the bare bones.

Seeing what can be done with what you’ve got.

 

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Restoring an old home means removing the signs of a life hard lived.

A fresh start, enhancing the beauty, removing the barriers.

Finding what is really important, enhancing that, recreating the space.

 

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Renovating Italian Houses means letting in the sunshine.

Clearing layers of misunderstanding.

Deciding on our own future and moving constantly in that direction.

Finding our happiness.

 

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Renovating in our beloved Italy means gathering friends.

Sharing stories, bringing laughter back.

Creating new echos.

 

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Renovating Italian houses means replacing what doesn’t work.

Blending old and new.

Creating a view beyond normal life.

 

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some further inspiration:

Restoring a Home in Italy

Italian Country Living

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Life is full of beautiful moments

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Life is full of beautiful moments

 this is why we came to Italy

for our Children,
for a simpler lifestyle
and

to find ‘us’ again…..

I love messy, I love life and dirt and skinned knees, I love my kids playing outside, rounding up chickens, open hearts, a treasure hunt every day, joy in each simple thing, picking beans and eating them raw and crunchy, handfuls of blackberries the red juice staining our hands, brisk cold water from the fountain.

Wonderful, beautiful moments.

Winter is coming, the leaves are turning and falling in little drifts. Luca throws them in the air laughing as they fall around him, he knows they mean summer is coming to an end. It’s hard to imagine that soon enough we will have snow, that the valley will turn silent and white, the summer holiday makers will disappear and we will have the place to ourselves.

Three eggs, snails in the orto, a puppy with needle sharp teeth, a dead kitten, our friend Italo and his family raking the hay by hand, the river is the brightest blue green, the head of the sunflower needed to be brown before cutting, Claudio’s dog sneaks in to eat our dogs food, I hear the tractors coming in from the pasture below the borgata.

Winter is coming.

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Yet still I dream, of our house turned into a home, putting down roots and having a place where we belong.

Our gift is being able to see through the rubble, the chaos, and the mess to the beauty hidden within.

Our current reality and the dream…. one day the two will merge.

I’ll find that peaceful place, share vino with friends and family, sit back on my deck chair and start planning our next adventure.

Beautiful Moments

Keeping dreams alive, tending them carefully, moving them forward each day……that’s the secret.

 

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Our ‘Casa Bianca’ continues to reveal herself.

Sam and Sean (our workaway guy) have been working to clear the cellar of rubbish.  This will be the bathroom, with it’s vaulted ceiling and odd little alcoves.

With the doorway being so low we needed to raise it a little. Now you can walk down the few steps without stooping. It’s a little hard to show the actual room as it’s quite dark and only has a small light source.

Oh and that hole Sam is putting the stick down, that’s about a meter cubed of number two’s.

Luckily I don’t have to worry about that, a good job for the boys.

If you really want to see what it’s like inside then you can take a look at this little video I made.

I’ve been through many renovations but nothing like this, warning don’t watch right after eating.

The floor has been lowered a little to give some extra headroom, and yes I can already see past the mess.

This house will be gorgeous.

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Until next time

Beautiful Moments

Signatureand the gang x

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