Snow

Snow on the hills.

Some weeks have passed since the last snow, and yet there are so many things to tell.

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First of all, two colours. White and earth.

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And mist.

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And then trees, roads, cultivated lands that here and there violate this whiteness. Amazing!

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Even utility poles in this context become poetic! So SO beautiful, every week we have a different panorama in front of us!

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As a musical background on the road, an album released some years ago, Roseland NYC Live by Portishead, chilling sounds perfectly matching the world outside, and as the house was glacial (we didn’t even try to light up the fire, to avoid smoke intoxication), it was also the background music to the (cold) lunch we had in our car.

Anyway, we had a lot of work to warm us up. Daniele ended removing plaster from the (ex) red room, here’s the result:

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A bunch of rubble to clear! Shovel, hand-cart, legs and hips (better not push too much on the back), we are gathering all in a corner of the yard, from where it will be easier to load them on a pick-up and carry them to the dump.

Under the plaster we found this beautiful bricks frame decorating a door.

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And then a series of openings successively bricked up, with stunning details:

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Weird holes in the wall (we’re still wondering what they were for) and tuff stone among bricks:

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I had already told about them, I know. By the way, Daniele took about 10 hours work to complete one room (four walls).

In the meantime, I moved to the upper floor to devote myself to removing the linoleum placed in the bedroom upon the kitchen. I tore off all the baseboard plus two brass planks screwed to the cotto floor (that’s imagination!) to ensure the lino to the ground (just in case it decided to escape…).

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They used lino to cover the cotto floor, that once was the typical floor of country houses. Apparently a poor material at the time, while nowadays you could pay really loads of money for it, both new or salvaged! These are square tiles 16 x 16 cm, and were once treated with “ox blood”, a substance (not better specified, I don’t even know wheter it was from nature or artificial) of a vivid dark red, that had to be applied quite often; we learned this from the Major of Vignale Monferrato, the time we went visiting her house, including the fact that replacing old cotto floors with cement “Minestrone” for them was a remarkable improvement, as they could finally avoid using the ox blood to colour the flooring. But… what a pity!

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Under the red paint you can see the original colour of the cotto.

Under the red paint you can see the original colour of the cotto.

I’m also done with clearing the bedrooms with the vaccuum spiderwebs-cleaner, and this clean they look totally different! In the meantime, Daniele starts the demolition of the bathroom on the first floor.

Generally speaking about the kind of renovation we want, we love making things difficult, so we have specific requirements on materials and finishings, and equally precise contradictions to face.

We are trying to bring back the house to its original appearance as much as possible, leaving no trace of all the works made in the 60’s and 70’s: we will put original floors and original stones on the staircase back again, we will demolish the bathroom on the first floor (sure, we need a bathroom… but not in THAT position! It’s the most panoramic room of the whole house!), we will re-open some doors and windows that were bricked up, and will try to bring into light many hidden details such as bricks and tuff stones, brick frames, wooden lintels, cotto bricks on the small repeated-vaults ceilings (to be completely sanded for the purpose) and the vault upon the entrance and the stairs.

Our basic idea is trying to respect the typicalness and authenticity of this place with our renovation.

At the same time, all those “amenities” that make of a house A HOUSE should be designed as well, I’m thinking of the heating plant together with water and sanitary system, bathrooms, floors and tiles, electrical system, we could even go further to discover the world of the production of sustainable energy, or of home automation… and here we are, here contradictions start.

Because, first of all, we would like an energy-saving, green, eco-friendly and people-friendly house, as consistent as possible with bio-housebuilding standards.

Then, we would like a house finished with natural materials, that allow walls perspiration, without chemical additives that we could inhale, and energetically in harmony with the surroundings (any doubts? I may talk about it in future).

But we would also like a place that reflects us and our passion for interior design, decoration and DIY, whereof this house is the perfect playground, the empty canvas! In fact, everything started with our need for space, room to decorate as we please, going through flea markets and Ikea, old stuff recycled from relatives and friends and Milan’s “Fuorisalone” (we are regular of this series of events taking place during the design fair in Milan). But this doesn’t always coincide with the previous issues… In facts, some of the details we love and want in the new house are not always green, nor typical Monferrato style, nor Piedmont style, some are not even Italian at all!!! What am I talking about??

For example, about old faience, those blue and white azulejos-like, those in ‘900 style with floral or geometrical decorations, that in general have nothing to do with Piedmont… I found some I really like in Sicily, in Caltagirone…

http://www.madeamano.it/

And what about my passion for glass-walls “auto-electrician” style, those industrial glasse that are so fine in lofts, I mean, typical houses of the countryside…and that, moreover, are as energy-savers as a hole in the roof…

On some issues, then, I’m really digging my heels in: for example, I definitely want to keep the original windows and shutters, I think they are very fine, but they obviously don’t have double glasses, so no energy-saving…maybe we shall modify them in order to improve insulation.

And finally, and obviously, there is a budget we should respect: what a pain… Ok let’s say that we might save 100 €/sqm tiles for small details in particular (very small) corners of the house, while for bigger parts we will reach a compromise by purchasing in some department store (let it be clear, I will never surrender to those awful standard finishing now applied in each and every new building: sad pale pink 40×40 cm tiles layed in diagonal, over my dead body!!!).

In the end, maybe we are not real extreme-Monferrato-genuine-bio-housebuilders, anyway that’s the basis confusion. I meant, basis idea.

How will I combine EVERYTHING????????????????????????????????????????????

See you  ;-)

2 thoughts on “Snow

  1. Paola on said:

    Che bel blog pieno di particolari! Sicuramente sarà di ispirazione a chi sta ristrutturando o vuole ristrutturare casa!
    Bravi!!!!