My rennovation inspiration

 expat in italy, gardening, sardinia, sardinian farmhouse, Sardinian Life  Commenti disabilitati su My rennovation inspiration
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When We bought our house I had just come back from travelling around India and the surrounding countries. I fell in love with the havellis in Rajisthan and the Portuguese villas of Goa, Kerela and Sri Lanka. Sardinian architecture leaves a lot to be desired and country properties in particular were built to be practical and little else. Still our house felt like it had character, it was built by a wealthy (for the countryside) family who owned a lot of land in the early 1940’s. They tried to create a house similar to those in the city with high ceilings and tall windows, inside however has low doorways!

Rajasthan HavelliWe knew from the outset we would extend our house, I loved the idea of a veranda or roof terrace, enjoying a breeze in the shade sipping a lime soda. Ahhh, those were the days! I knew we’d need some areas which would graham and green goa villastay cool in the hot summer months. Havellis do a great job of this with rooms built around a central open courtyard. I was lucky enough to stay in the villa owned by Antonia Green, co founder of Graham and Green. It too benefits from a central open courtyard, however, the Goan climate is slightly different from Sardinia’s and I don’t think we’d appreciate the chill in winter!

portuguese villa in goaAs our house was built on a slope, we decided that where you enter the house, the ground floor, would be the day time zone with lounge, dining room and kitchen etc. And the extension would be built at lower ground floor level and house the bedrooms and bathrooms. In fact the house actually has 5 levels! Up a few steps to the kitchen, down a few to the family bathroom and shower room, down a few more to 2 bedrooms and down again to a further 3 bedrooms which have their own private access and en-suites built in the extension. Eventually we will convert the loft space so our children each have a bedroom. The extension was built on the back of the house and is roughly 80sqm and the roof is a terrace accessed via french doors from the dining room with steps down to the garden.

I also found inspiration on websites such as Mr and Mrs Smith and Olivers Travels looking through their Italian properties. Unfortunately, Pinterest had yet to be invented!

Moving to Sardinia

 expat in italy, ideas, rennovation, sardinia, sardinian farmhouse, Sardinian Life  Commenti disabilitati su Moving to Sardinia
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After studying graphic design at Central St. Martins and then working as a graphic designer in London I could see that the industry was demanding and would leave little time for a family if I was going to pursue the career.

I decided I needed a break and travelled around India for 10 months.

When I got back I had no money left so quickly made a list of restaurants close to my parents house, rang the first one and went to meet the manager. This was when I first met Sergio.

A year later we were living in Sardinia and planning our life. Sergio wanted his own restaurant but it seemed like a risky investment. We were looking at houses too. Sergio would find studios near the beach or tiny flats in the crumbling old centre of Sassari, ocassionaly a small 1 bedroom house would crop up but with no prospect of extending nothing seemed to suit our needs as a growing family.

When I first saw our house on the internet I fell in love straight away, surrounded by lush greenery, it had character and amazing views. A million miles away from the types of properties we’d been viewing.560274_424351684266035_1007985622_n

We went to view it and after my initial enthusiasm, my heart sank. There was so much to do. It was basically a shell, no running water, no electricity and a 2km strada bianca (unmade road). In fact the tiny hamlet had been abbandoned a long time ago. The roof had been leaking and rotted some of the beams and floors, One section of the house was being used for animals and was missing most of the roof. The asking price was way too much for us for all the work that needed doing. The only positive was that the house occupied a plot of land which would be granted planning permission to create a large extension. It would be the perfect setting for a B&B.

cabu abbasAs the weeks and months passed our search continued. Nothing could compare. The house reappeared, they’d dropped the asking price but it was still too much. It dropped again. We went back for a second viewing. How much would all the work cost, we had no idea and even Sergio, after spending so long in the UK had no idea what the costs would be like. So Sergio’s cousin (a handyman/builder) came and had a look. “No, it won’t cost too much, I’ll give you a hand!” Obviously his vision was somewhat different from mine. 6 months after moving to Sardinia we were married, expecting a baby and homeowners.
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We were completely niave and without a proper plan. We tried to do as much as possible with the limited funds we had but it was clear we’d need a lot more. Sergio’s cousin did come and help, a bit, and we did find luck along the way. Having a friendly, chatty Sardinian husband certainly meant we didn’t get ripped off (much). And, after grumbling a lot, Sergio’s Dad, who was a proper builder, came and helped loads.

We now have 3 children and have lived in Cabu Abbas since 2011, shortly before Enel supplied us with electricity. We lived off a generator for 3 months. The water supply was very erratic during the first year but this was due to our council and effected everyone. Unfortunately at this point we hadn’t bought a water tank for in reserve for these (frequent) disruptions.

We’re still waiting for the council to sort the road out, without it, we have little hope of running a sucessful B&B but we hope to be open next year and eventually even build a pool.

If you’re interested in renovating a house in Northern Sardinia feel free to get in touch. There are lots of abandoned properties in Sardinia. Unfortunately many are not advertised or are only placed of free local buy and sell sites. If you have some basic knowledge of Italian Subito is a great site to try. Good luck.

I’ll post next time about the progres we’ve made.

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One of the most amazing things about living in the Sardinian countryside is being able to have a huge veg patch, in fact, mine is allotment sized! As we live in a old farmhouse we have a walled off area that would have been used for pigs.

The soil around the house is terribe, it’s basically dust, topsoil is non existent. Luckily this walled area, next to the woods, is super fertile and benefits from lots of leaf fall.

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I don’t have any fancy machinery, unfortunately just a spade and a hoe (my rake has disappeared!) So it’s difficult. I grow all my plants from seed. And I threw in a few extra courgette seeds in case they didn’t all come up. They ALL came up! So, not wanting to throw away a healthy plant, I put all 6 in. Well, it was a funny summer. We had a lot of rain, huge thunderstorms followed by really hot days then more rain, more sun…. It was nice not having to worry about watering. At first it was fun collecting all the courgettes, my children love picking our veg. In the picture below, my son is 4 and my daughter is 2, the biggest courgettes weighed nearly 2kg!

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The fun aspect soon passed, we’d go to the beach for a few days and when we returned were faced with literally bucket loads of courgettes. We gave lots away but also started eating courgettes with every meal. It was challenging finding recipes that the children might like. So I’ll share a few child friendly courgette recipes with you!!!!

courget glut