inexpensive makeover

Behind the Scenes: How to do an inexpensive makeover!

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…

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


Our Rustic Italian Kitchen – uncovering the past

‘Time does not pass, it continues…’

  Marty Rubin

rustic italian kitchen

 Years of darkness peel away and the beams in our Rustic Kitchen are restored to an original warmth. The house has taken on an entirely different feel as if it took a big sigh now that all those layers have been removed. The ceilings seem higher and the rooms just that bit bigger, an optical illusion certainly but maybe it’s due to that big breath the house took, the shaking off of the past. The fine dust has now settled on every surface both up and down stairs, and will  be returned to become part of the floor in the living room. We are using it to level the surface before we lay the slabs of rock flooring.

Our friend Claudio spent the day sandblasting the two rooms and the results are just a joy. I never expected the end result to look this good and I am now mid way through coating the raw timber with a clear finish. We kept all the huge original nails used by generations past to hang various items. It looks like a beach in our kitchen and all we need now are the deckchairs and sun umbrellas. The sand is at least an inch thick in most places downstairs and we are waiting on a vacuum to arrive so we can clear out the fine dust.

Sam and I have been busy taking out the door and widening the opening between the rooms, and also taking out all the nails in the lounge room walls that held up the hideous plastic paneling. Luckily the render will cover any gouges and we don’t need to take care of the floor as it is now sand. Everyone has been in to see the results of Claudio’s work including two Aussies we met by accident yesterday as they were trying to decide if it was okay to walk through the borgata. How wonderful it was to hear someone say ‘Mate’ and we ended up taking them both for the grand tour of the house and the village. They just happened to come at the perfect time to see the house in total disarray, anything now will be a big improvement.

This is the wonderful part about our house in Italy, it is a living breathing part of the mountains. It has it’s own history which we know will continue long after we are gone. I like that feeling of being a care taker, of leaving the house stronger than before, of giving something back to this valley and it’s people.

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rustic italian kitchen

Rustic Italian Kitchen – an update

‘The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten’

 Cesare Pavese

The heart of most homes is the kitchen, our rustic Italian kitchen is starting to take shape after a bit of TLC and lots of work from Sam. Over the last few days he pulled out the old sink and tiles, mixed up multiple batches of white cement and coated the walls, then re cemented the slabs of rock on the floor.

It’s been wonderful having the entire population of the borgata come for visits to see what we are doing and give advice. Most frequently the comments are ‘rip out the fireplace and pull up the stone floor’ arrrghhh!

Meanwhile I have been busy painting the first floor bedroom, bathroom ceiling, re varnishing the timber and best of all painting the main bedroom on the top floor. My favorite room is this bedroom, high ceiling with wooden beams and so much promise. A small balcony and a beautiful view, perfect. Sam being the chef in the family is besotted by the fireplace in our rustic Italian kitchen and already researching cooking methods to use.

We leave early in the morning to work at the house and come home late so computer time is a rarity. I hope you’ll forgive us as we need to move into the house within the next two weeks. Lots to do as always, but I will show you the bedroom and introduce the neighbors who are priceless asap.

bobbio pellice kitchen out

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bobbio pellice kitchen slop

bobbio pellice kitchen floor

Idea’s and Inspiration for our Rustic Italian Kitchen

We both agree we want to keep the house as close to original as possible and Sam plans to put in the rack for the cooking pot to hang over the fire. Our neighbors are already donating some ancient relics and love that we want to keep the rustic heritage alive. The only problem we now find is that the floor slopes and is wildly uneven so a table and chairs will be tricky.

We are gathering ideas and looking for the best way to overcome this. Any thoughts are most welcome, have you ever had a very crooked floor?

Fire place cooking arm

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thanks to everyone for sticking with us through this transition, we are expecting friends in June and again in September so ‘molto lavore’ for us as usual x

Signatureand the gang x