November 28, 2008

About a Fellow Builder in Tuscany

Too late for Tuscany? is a new blog and it's about renovating a chicken house in Tuscany.

The posts read very interesting to me. The author is a fellow builder with same thoughts about plumbing and loos! Of course the house is not a chicken house, this is only the nickname and it is quiet big and also around 200 years old.

The blogger says about himself that he is 'a 40-something professional currently posted to Central Europe, now owner of a 'project' in Tuscany.

It changes a bit to read a 'male' blog about house renovation and probably soon also about decoration. The posts are full of useful and entertaining information. I can suggest this blog for everybody who wants to renovate or build in Italy (or elsewhere).

November 21, 2008

Before and After: Facade

before (2006) main facade

after (2008)
before (2006) from the side

after (2008)

Didn't our architetto deliver a nice job ? Complimenti !
I am very happy with the result. It looks great. Not overdone, in my opinion. Just appropriate and very well matching the main facade.

But, ssh, can you believe that we have a neighbour who wants us to move the rain drain ?! (It is facing his ground.) Maybe there is an old South Italian superstition behind his wish?

Mmm ... it should not disturb us to enjoy the overall result.
We are almost done ! ... from the outside.

More Facade Before & After posts:
See all renovation posts BEFORE and AFTER.

November 17, 2008

Vintage Furniture designed for Kids

Bianca & Family
When a kids magazine (Beijing Kids) asked me earlier this year to compile an article about vintage furniture for kids I had to google about 'vintage furniture' as I only was familiar with 'vintage cars' - so far.

That's why the article goes like this:
"A car is considered a vintage car when it is at least 20 years old. The same goes with furniture. Vintage furniture may have the aesthetics of the colorful and playful ’70s or arouse a serene feeling from another time – one that was simpler ..."

The article with a list of addresses can be found online:
article in Beijing KidsClassically Chic - Vintage Furniture designed for kids

It was not easy to find good addresses for kids' vintage furniture. Most finds were French shops - and my favorite address in France is Bianca & Family

Since I was in contact with them for the article I receive their newsletter about 'nouveautés' ...

I always wanted to make a small post about them. They not only sell their finds, they also restore old kids furniture, mainly old school desks and chairs (see first pic above), and they have vintage toys. I am really tempted to get one desk set for my son, although the desk space seems a bit small. Maybe a double desk. It reminds me of my childhood at school.

Bianca & Family
268 rue des Ecoles
35800 Saint Lunaire, France
Phone: +33 (0) 688 790238
Shipment worldwide upon request.

Two more cute French shops with vintage stuff for kids:
Petit Blanc d'Ivoire

Another good address not only for kids:
Maison du Monde

Alternatively register with ebay and define some long term queries and get finds by email - e.g. from Ebay (France)

Further more:
The German Architectural Digest (AD) magazine features in its November issue a 6 pages long article about the 'First four walls', stylish children rooms (Kinderzimmer).
The following brands are mentioned:
Bianca & Family, Richard Lampert, Habitat, Petite Boutique, Ralph Lauren Home, Petitcollin and Oliver Furniture.

More vintage kids stuff in blog land (with further links):

Harry's (New) Room via ABTHarry's (New) Room by Anna Spiro

vintage rooms via Designers BlockVintage Kids Room for Pink by Di Overton

vintage for kids via Style Filesvintage furniture for kids by Danielle de Lange

November 11, 2008

About Renovating

The good thing about renovating a house or part of a house is that you can make it to your taste and at your options.

The bad thing is that you need to make compromises. Sometimes it just can't be done as you like and unexpected situations come up and you need to rethink your ideas.

Here are some of my latest observations:

Even if you are visiting your construction site on a daily basis you will find surprises (like my sister who is renovating a house here in Stuttgart).

And even when you have agreed on something and approved it, it might not look good when it is finalized (like some parts of our terrace in Italy):

A small construction site (like one room) or a large construction (like one entire house) only means you might have more time for details when having a small project. But this can drive you crazy nevertheless (like my bathroom renovation in Germany):

You need a long breath and iron nerves for renovation projects. From what I see, men tend to rush and make quick decisions and then can live with their decision while women tend to weigh all options in sleepless nights to finally come to the 'perfect' decision. The result - of course - is not the same because the quick decision maker has overseen at least one important detail (e.g. the space for the towel rail needed some more inches...). However, as said before, men can live with this.

My advise: If you spent a lot of money on renovating be sure not to rush. Better to find a lot of inspirations first, draw layouts and different perspectives to find the best solution and maybe even get some advise from an interior designer. Even the craftsmen might have good ideas as they have seen many solutions.

The iron nerves are also important when dealing with craftsmen (at least here in Germany). Instead of thanking you for the assignment you have to thank them for having time for you. The crisis seems not have touched them so far.

But this morning I was lucky. My German plumber has offered me a cup of coffee and a Brezel when I came to sign the contract.

Do YOU have any advise or experience to share about renovation ?

photo sources: the pics from our Italian palazzo were taken by our architect - the first one was sent yesterday. Grazie!

November 06, 2008

And the winner is...

... PP, il architetto !

While we all were still voting and thinking and discussing about version B or C and about the white column in the middle yes or no - our young architect and his team were working.

When we made the decision to do version C - the simple one - the column in the middle (version B) was already plastered on the wall.

I just reviewed the pictures, send by PP (grazie!), and was asked to made the final decision by Angelo and CC :

To remove the column tomorrow morning or not ?

Well, well, the argument of the architect sounded reasonable:
'Secondo mè è necessaria per interrompere la monotonia dell'orizzontalità, e di avere tutta la parete rustica.', the column would interrupt the monotone horizontal.

And also some Pizzitani which have seen the work today, recommended to leave it.

So GREEN light to go ahead (luce verde).

For your (and my) understanding: the version that will be implemented, is a mix of version B and C. The column in the middle (as I understood) will not go down all the way. The lowest part remains (more or less, I assume) untouched, while the stone part will have a white column that finishes under the roof.

(PP, perfavore, is this the final version?)

Thank you all for your votes, comments and emails! Very much appreciated!

It was fun. - I leave the poll open for some more days, in case you still like to vote.


update: poll is closed, here is the result:

version B 46 % (mix of modern and old)
version C 33 % (simple version)
version A 20 % (shoe box version)

November 02, 2008

The (side) Facade Election

Our beautiful main facade...

... and the side facade of the house you see first when you approach the house:

We can't leave it like this.
Everybody agrees.

But everybody has a different opinion about HOW to renovate this part.

The discussion is very lively. This I understand from the Italian emails copied to me...

We have 2 problems:

1) it should not look like a shoe box
2) it should not be too expensive

Here are 3 approaches for the (side) facade:

'The expensive shoe box version'
(repeating the design of the main facade for each floor)

'Mixing old and new elements'
(renovating nicely the stone wall and adding white columns from the main facade)

'The simple version'
(coloured plaster only on the top floor that is the newest part of the house; renovating part of the stone wall to water & wind proof; the lower part remains as it is as it borders to the neighbour's property)

How about voting ?
Are you still in voting mood?
We have 3 candidates: A), B) or C)
Please vote on the top of the blog roll (on the right)

(I am not sure which one is actually preferred by whom).

To support the decision making process for everyone, I post some more pictures around the house:

House from the garden

Nicely detailed renovated garden wall

The other side facade - it was plastered before

House from seaside (1)

House from seaside (2) - including side facade in question

And here some samples from facades in Pizzo:

Facade sample for the use of mixed medium - stone and plaster (click on photo to enlarge)

Stone facade partly plastered (click on photo to enlarge)

Most famous stone wall (from the castello of Pizzo)

Please vote for your favorite solution on the (right) blog roll
A) most detailed (expensive shoe box)
B) mix of old and new elements
c) most simple version

I am curious about the result and about how to use the poll gadget!
Thank you for your support!
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