The beach house renovation: living room.


So, renovating a house in Italy is easy because they have good contractors, materials, and also so, so hard. After all, the rules are draconian. Enlarging our livingroom, was one hell of a bureaucratic adventure. 

 We are not so keen on balconies, so we knew we wanted to incorporate part of our terrace/balcony into the living room to make space for a dining table. Tuscany is strict; with permits, they don't want carelessly constructed buildings to ruin their beautiful region.  We asked our 'geometra' to manage the process. He was a cool dude, and we hung out at his office a lot, looking at old maps of our town, figuring out who owns what, while we waited for the permit to go through. And we waited and waited and waited. I started going by his office on the regular. The answer was always; it is almost done.  A year went by, still nothing. Desperate, I went to an architect and asked her to take over. She called me the same day, telling us the geometra never submitted our request. This was the nicest man. And he lied to our face for a year. 

Anyway, the architect submitted it, and within 12 weeks, we had the permit.

Another issue I had with the living room was the ceiling. This is a mid-century modern house, and the owners had added many traditional touches to make it look more like a Southern Italy abode. They had lowered the original high sloped ceiling with wooden panels. Hiding the high ceilings and, more importantly, the upper windows. To me, the ceiling looked sturdy, and I was sure it would be a hassle to remove them. As a solution, I asked our contractor to paint it. I think he hated the idea of painting the ceiling; he quickly removed one panel and found out they were just cardboard panels that were individually hung from the immaculate white stucco ceiling. In one afternoon, they demoed them. Underneath, the stucco looked awesome. And, a big plus, it revealed the triangular windows that pushed me to want to have that ceiling gone. 

I knew I wanted to have longer wooden slats, and we found a gorgeous one at Cotto D'Este. And the whole collection is mind-blowingly gorgeous. 

For the windows, we took some time deciding. At first, we wanted wood frames, Marlon didn't want PVC, and I wanted sliding doors. In the end, the PVC Internorm ones looked so good that we changed our minds. 

I always find myself pushing back at contractors and suppliers. This happened again with the height of the windows. Window sellers want to sell you what is easier for them. So a lot of the plans I received divided the lower windows in two. They kept telling me the windows would be too high. Since when are windows too high? The higher, the better. And of course, once you stand firm, all the difficulties disappear.

Marlon did a lot of the demo work himself to save money. The windows were plugged into the wall with long metal bolts, so it was a crazy hard job. The scariest part was when he removed the old windows' middle column; I always freak out when walls go down, not entirely confident that an architect is right about a supporting wall. The roof stayed put. 

We choose a darker wood for the balcony/terrace to blend in with the trees and give it a rugged feel. We started painting the exterior walls and brick that were orange, with Farrow and Ball All White. And I think I have to go back and grout the brick for a better look. 


I got to enjoy the room for a few months. Unfortunately, now the rest of the house is being renovated, this room is filled with furniture.  I cannot wait to empty it again and finally have a comfy couch and some chairs so we can all sit there and stare at the surrounding pine and palm trees. And dance and run ( the dogs) around all that space.