Working in the house and floating spiders
Have you ever met anyone who bought an old house to renovate? The thing all these people have in common is that they all tell you ‘Never buy an old house to renovate, ever!’. At the time I didn’t follow their advice, I thought I was tougher than them, I’d never get lost in arguments about light switch or doorknobs, I had pictured exactly in my mind how my house had to be.
Well I’ll tell you one thing: never buy an old house to renovate, ever!
It is a kind of nightmare, you spend loads of time for every single stupid thing in that house that needs to be done. Do you really think there’s only two or three items in electric switches’ world?! Do you have any clue on how many doorknobs you can have on a single door model?! Did you consider matching them with the shower handle too?! And after you kind of learn by heart every single item they have available, are you aware they have just changed their catalogue/availability (or worse: prices) just yesterday?
The little hamster who is in charge of running the principal wheel of my head’s engine is exhausted. I know sometimes it feels like stop running, put its little paws in its head and scream like Munch’s painting.
There has been one moment I though all the works we were doing in the house had actually made the house itself worse than before. A kind of Ground Zero, a tabula rasa. After that moment though things started to change or at least you finally realize they can’t get even worse, so you keep your temper and you go on.
Now we are kind of done. Almost there. Well, please, someone defines ‘almost’ to me.
It’s like when you transfer a big quantity of data from your computer to another, you know: the blue bar is almost full and the message below says ‘time remainig: less than one minute’. Almost done. Well I’ve spend the longest minutes of my life staring at that #@*∂## blue bar. So the cure I found for my nerve (and my poor hamster) is finding something else to do. Invest that endless ‘minute’ possibly doing something physically related.
That’s what I’m doing these days with the house. I decided I want the roof beams done. The previous owner tried to insulate the roof from below, so he covered the beams with a kind of yellow wool and then closed everything with plasterboards nailed to the beams. Rooms got shorter and ugly with all those plasterboards pending over your head. When I bought the house we realized the roof had some leaks (amongst other problems…). The rain soaked all those yellow wool (I don’t know the name of it, it’s a cheap insulation material I guess). Last winter I took everything away: insulation material, plasterboards, mice nests, some kind of bug extinct ages ago, and I discovered the wooden beams.
As you can imagine they had been seriously damaged and the woodworms did the rest. Woodworms that actually must have gone to extinction too, or maybe there was nothing left to gnaw.
I had the roof insulated again from above with thick material and stuff I don’t know how it’s called, the job has been done by a pro. After a whole warm season of aeration (that was just an excuse: I had things to do in the garden during the warm season…) I can now start with my intensive care program for wooden beams. First of all they had been treated with a jet of compressed air and fine sand, this process smoothen and cleans the wood. After that I brushed some anti termite, they may look extinct but you never know. Finally comes the funny part: painting the beams. I did some research and I learned that in the past, here in Venice, they use to paint all the wooden beams: often light blue or white. So I decided to do like history tells (which is actually the contrary of what fashion dictate nowadays).
I consulted a friend of mine, who is a professional decorator and he works mostly in old villas in Venice. He told me to mix soft wax and water based paint, you obtain a kind of thick soup, like mayo, and you brush it on the wood.
After a while you wipe with a cloth: the paint is absorbed by the softest part of the wood, while only the wax remain on the veins and polishes them. The effect is pretty good, very time-consuming but I like it. It even looks ‘vintage’ which is probably more fashionable than what I thought.
I started with the guest room, as I though this was the room I would have used less, so if the job was a flop I wouldn’t have done it in other rooms. You can see the final look of the room pictured below. Now I only bother on which shade of white I should use on the ceiling… oh ah! And then I have to pair that shade of white with a nice colour on the walls, which has to match with the curtains I suppose but probably the curtains would be chosen after the forniture… I even wonder about the lamps I’m supposed to use…
Oh! You might question about the floating spiders… Well it’s a terrific discover I’ve made last morning: this little gray spider floating on the water in the pool… I guess it’s a trick of nature, isn’t it? I swear it walked on water… Maybe it’s some kind of spider god or something.