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.
Once 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!
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.
Hope all is well with you and life is treating you kindly, more to follow asap once we are all feeling 100%…..much love
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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
Such a lot has been happening here in the Borgata since I posted last.
A New Project – The Loft Apartment
We have been keeping busy in the lead up to Christmas with work on the guest accommodation in the main house. Sam has been working non stop pulling out the old bread oven, creating a new space for our winter wood supply, extending the porch area, and now onto creating a entire new space.
It’s a little hard to explain but basically we are pulling out the guest bedroom and making the space into a self contained unit adjoining the main house. It will have a kitchenette, living area and bedroom.
Then next year we will continue to work on ‘Casa Bianca’ once the weather warms up enough to host workaway people. I can’t wait to share our life here in the borgata, it really is unique and I know you’ll love it .
The new year will bring many changes for our little family and our life here in the Valley.
Christmas is only two more sleeps away and we still haven’t been near a shop, and I am surprisingly stress free about it. Normally by now I would be fighting disappointment that everything wouldn’t be perfect, I am yet to have that perfect magazine style Christmas that I dream about.
We are missing our family in Australia and that is one of the down sides of an expat life, I’m hoping to skype with my Mum on Christmas day.
We have had glorious weather, sunny days and no sign of snow yet. The valley is alive with the locals making the most of this warm start to winter. I’ve been out today moving our mountain of wood into our sheds before the snow comes.
It’s funny how natural it all seems now, to light the fire for showers, to make pancakes on the weekend with eggs from our chickens, we have six baby rabbits and the dog has adopted the kitten.
Carina and Luca finish school for the holidays tomorrow, they get two weeks. Carina came home today super proud that she got a nine out of ten for maths, and she did well with her other subjects as well. Maths has always been her least favorite subject.
I’m seeing so clearly the true gift of Christmas, it’s spending time together with those you love, giving the gift of your full attention, being present not giving presents.
Thank you all for your friendship and love throughout the year, I hope you know just how much I value this.
We’ve been through many ups and downs together.
We wish you a joy filled Christmas, be gentle on yourself, relax and take some moments to really enjoy it all.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Renovating in our beloved Italy means gathering friends.
Sharing stories, bringing laughter back.
Creating new echos.
Renovating Italian houses means replacing what doesn’t work.
Blending old and new.
Creating a view beyond normal life.
some further inspiration: