It seems our personal crafting projects are getting more and more out of hand and have currently culminated in renovating a residential farmhouse built in 1937. The central heating system stemmed from 1972, and upstairs rays of sunlight found their way through cracks between the roofing tiles – just to give you an idea of the state of the house. The basis of the house was very solid though, so were the walls and window frames, however the house was in dire need of some love, attention, and a lot of energy efficient insulation.
Like many things in life it’s probably a good thing you don’t exactly know what you are getting yourself into beforehand, or you would never even proceed with pursuing the idea. It’s also no wonder that you always hear that people’s renovating/building projects cost more and take longer than originally projected: they do not have prior experience with the type of work, the tasks are very varied and encompass various disciplines, and the tasks feature a lot of sequential dependencies which if not planned correctly easily snowball into accumulative delay.
Budgetary restrictions limits hiring outside help, but there’s nothing that a bit of blood, sweat and tears of two designers with a hands-on approach can’t fix. Having amazingly helpful parents is also invaluable.
We try to restore as many original elements of the house as possible, create spaces that are in line with the old division of elegant living space and rough open stable area, and reuse as many old materials as possible. For example we use beaded planks for the living room and kitchen, and use used doubled scaffolding wood to cover the slanted ceiling: a contrast in line with the old division.
What I find intriguing about renovating as opposed to building a new house is how you are forced by the various restrictions (or opportunities, depends on your view) of an old building, and budget, to shape the living spaces. The result is often lovely: various nooks, divisions, and shapes are created that you would not design if starting from scratch, but it’s these elements that create an undeniable charm. Plus having such unique spaces allows you to tailor the spaces to their specific purpose with its own distinct ambiance, so the living room is more than a standard comfy copy of the dining room centered around the omnipresent television and its faint blue glow (nope nope nope, no tv).
There’s still a lot left to do obviously. Thankfully I thoroughly enjoy the whole process, from demolishing to rebuilding, of design as a discipline in a different setting. It’s almost a shame that the learned manual skills will really only be put to use once. But hey there’s still the barn, and the chicken coop, and the garden, and the etcetera etcetera…