Let’s restore

Restoration work started on our old stone Istrian house in January 2012. Follow our progress here in words and pictures.

Finishing floors and bye-bye stone

20/07/2012
Miro starts laying flagstones at Kovaci, Istria

Basically, it’s been two weeks of flooring! With the flagstones laid, at last the house is finished – sort of. And while flagstones go into the barn downstairs, Toni lays wood floors upstairs. Then attention shifts into the parking area, where we finally say “Bye-bye” to the mountain of stone … and “hello” to...
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Bathroom irritations and light solutions

18/07/2012
Toni in unfinished pool in Kovaci, Istria

At last, I feel we’re entering the end-game at Kovaci. Bathroom fittings arrive (and bring some niggles…). I get a second go at deciding paint colours – will I get my way this time? Then, with everything else racing forward, I turn my attention to lighting and pray choosing light fittings proves easier than...
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Want to buy my house?

18/07/2012
House exterior with awful, red-brick extension in Kovaci, Istria

Had a strange phone call Monday afternoon, a few weeks ago. “Hello, I’m your neighbour in Kovaci. Would you like to buy my house?” As I said, strange. My caller was Dejan from Raiffeissen Bank Austria and he was calling about the red-brick monstrosity, next door. It had recently been repossessed and Dejan wanted...
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Win some, lose some – a week of compromises

05/07/2012
Garden works at Kovaci, Istria

In lovely Spring weather, attention shifts onto the garden and I see a lot of progress. But it’s an anxious week for me with various niggles and debates – some of which I even win!     Garden compromises Wednesday after May Day, I arrive in Kovaci to mountains of earth: top-soil has been...
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More tile tales … and loads of chipping

22/06/2012
Amir re-pointing barn in Kovaci, Istria

In the last two weeks of April, I’m preoccupied with tiles – the lack of them – and Miro gives me a kitchen panic. The pace of work ebbs and flows; we get shutters, gutters and a new front door. Amir keeps working on the barn’s walls and the month closes with a tiling...
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Tiling troubles

08/06/2012
Sign builders are around - beer bottles in window at Kovaci, Istria

Unnoticed by me, unwell in bed, the rain finally arrives for Easter. Despite cold, miserable weather, work progresses in Kovaci: Miro has lots of questions, the barn gains windows, I continue to worry about paint …and then there’s the tiles. I probably ought to have stayed in bed on Tuesday morning – I certainly...
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Onward, onward, ever onward

07/06/2012
Channels everywhere at Kovaci, Istria

It’s been the driest winter and spring anyone can remember. As April begins, cooler, cloudy weather arrives, but the drought runs on – bad for the garden (everything’s as dry as a bone), but great for building work. This week, Kovaci is inundated with workers, upstairs in the barn takes shape and I lose...
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Barnstorming progress

26/05/2012
Front of Kovaci barn, Istria showing quirky window alignment

March ended with yet another glorious week of warm sunshine: more like summer than early spring. In Kovaci, the barn was the focus of everyone’s attention this week – a lot needed to be done to bring it up to the same standard as the house.   Progress – what progress? The sight greeting...
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Beams, barn and continuing sunshine

05/05/2012
1st floor of barn in Kovaci, Istria

A lot of activity around beams this week: Miro finishes one set in the house and Amir lays floorboards on another in the barn. In glorious sunshine, a window appears in the barn and work starts on its roof. I choose a door, finally get to look out of the hay-loft window and almost...
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New neighbours, scary rumours and mild panic

02/05/2012
Stonemason crafting Kovaci property's beautiful gateway in Istria

The Opcina property is sold to Italians and rumours send me into a worried spin. A financing road-block slows work, but things still proceed, with trenches everywhere and some quality stone and wood work.   Neighbours are a concern for any property and at Kovaci, we had four adjacent properties. Only two were occupied,...
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Fast forward in Spring sunshine

23/04/2012
Toni in his beloved JCB in Kovaci, Istria

In glorious weather, work shifts outside and moves on apace. The pool emerges from its formers and is back-filled into the garden, and work progresses rapidly on the šupa. The house gains a front door and the windows arrive, but the stairs disappear! And I finally make a decision about tiles.   Dramatic progress...
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To barn or not to barn?

20/04/2012
Barn for restoration in Kovaci, Istria

As well as a three-bedroom terraced house, our property at Kovaci also has a barn. It’s a lovely building, in great condition, but restoring it along with the house would have been a big financial step too far – or so it seemed. Then, when P went to the UK, I started daydreaming…  ...
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More project creep … and Miro’s on an economy drive

14/04/2012
The team at work replacing the supa roof in Kovaci, Istria

Despite miscommunication, mis-translations and mislaid e-mails, work progresses steadily. I add yet more to an over-packed schedule, the pool starts taking shape and warmer weather finally arrives. Miro and I go shopping and, in a strange reversal of typical roles, I seem intent on spending money while Miro tries saving it!   Super šupa...
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Set-backs, mistakes, confusion … and forward progress

02/04/2012
Sand-lined hole for pool & JCB at Kovaci, Istria

A string of problems, inside and out, test my resolve, and mistakes test my temper this week. Do we find solutions and, most importantly, do I finally lose my cool?   Now the pool won’t fit… I started this week with a visit to the house to discuss the garden with my gardener, Davor....
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The Istrian furniture experience

24/03/2012
2 chairs & a table

Kovaci will be a holiday rental property. So as well as complete restoration, it also needs furnishing from top to bottom, and equipping with everything from light fittings and wardrobes to teaspoons and linen. In early February, while the builders continued working and P went to the UK, I started furniture shopping. Would I...
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