Tuesday 30 December 2014

House renovation update

The upstairs hallway is the perfect spot for bookshelves

Finally! The house renovation update... Well, our little house is now 95% finished. The last big project was to put in the stairs linking the ground floor to the upper floor and now that’s just about done. The next step is to attach the wooden planks for the steps to the metal structure which will be done as soon as the painting and varnishing of the steps is finished. Then we’ll also have to complete the bar which separates the kitchen from the living area. But the house finally feels like a house!

Metal staircase - wooden steps to come
It’s not a big house, with two rooms and a bathroom upstairs, and a living area and kitchen downstairs, but it is a good size. We also have the outdoor courtyard to enjoy, where the brick oven sits majestically in one corner. As I had mentioned in my previous post on our renovation project, we tried to preserve as many original features of the house as possible: like the stone walls and stone doorway, the original wooden beams, and the little 'niches' built into the stone walls. Not only are we happy to have completed a living space for ourselves but also to have restored one of the village’s original stone houses.

There are still a few other projects reserved for the Spring, the most important of which is renovating the façade. Since the village has heritage protection status, we need to apply for permission to do this. We’ve already contacted the conservation committee with two possible proposals, but are still waiting to hear back from them.

The brick oven can be seen through the back door in the courtyard

One of the niches built into the stone walls.

A 'window' between the living area and kitchen

I don’t have ‘after’ photos to display here, because we’re still in the process of settling in and furnishing the house, which takes time. But the photos I’m posting here offer a peek into the restoration process.

Having gone through the experience, I would offer the following advice to anyone thinking of starting a similar project to renovate a holiday home:

Expect everything to take longer than expected. It’s difficult to estimate the time it will take for a renovation project because there are so many factors at play. In any case, renovating a property is a lot more time-consuming (and stressful!) than many people imagine. Not only do you have to rely on contractors, materials may not always be available when you need them or may have to be ordered in advance. Even the weather can delay things: like our walls which took weeks to dry because of a wet, humid winter.

Expect everything to cost more than expected. Because you’ll be glad you have some money left over!

Keep it simple. Planning and building or renovating a home or holiday retreat is a dream project. Some people get carried away and plan too big and then realize that the project is too ambitious and is eating up more time and resources than initially imagined. Less is more.

Be on-site as much as possible. There are decisions and micro-decisions which need to be taken on a daily basis. This is why you need to be around as much as possible. If you can’t, find a project manager you trust to oversee things in your absence.

Feel free to share your own experiences building or renovating a home or holiday getaway in the comments section!


  1. Hi Isabel,
    Your house looks great. I can't wait to see the rooms furnished. You must be so excited.
    Happy New Year,

  2. Great ‘before’ pics, so excited to see the finished project. It looks so authentic and cosy, you are really lucky. I am based in Australia and work for a company that sells shutters and blinds. I think Plantation Shutters would be great on those patio doors...you could get the wooden ones to match the door frame. Just an idea... maybe you don’t plan on any blinds at all. Such a pretty courtyard to look out on!


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