Tag Archives: forrest spears

My Life in Photos, May

As many of you know, I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home there, The Fortress. To say it’s been a whirlwind of excitement would be an understatement.

I’ve spending my days unpacking and prepping for students who arrive next month and spending my nights enjoying aperitivo on our terrace or sipping our own vineyard’s wine with friends.

Of course there have been many ups and downs, and I’ve been sharing a lot of my experiences on Instagram. For those of you who don’t follow me there, here’s a glimpse at my life in photos for May.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Faucet of my dreams in my own kitchen in Italy.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Crostata break – oh, with espresso.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Market day! Choosing perfectly aged pecorino.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

The view out of my window in the mornings.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Starting to get to know the light in this place…

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Bedroom vibes

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

My first night at la Fortezza; it’s quiet as a tomb and was my best sleep in a long time.

I have spent the past few weeks in Italy moving into our new home here, The Fortress. Here's a glimpse at my life in photos for May including moving-in!

Pardon me while I post a million pictures of my love, my La Canche.

By the way, if you really want to see some behind the scenes moments, be sure to checkout my Instagram stories. You never know what peeks at The Fortress you might see.

If you want to see The Fortress for yourself, we have just a few spots left for our July workshops. I’d love to see you there.

xx Annette

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Moving in Day :: Italy

I never thought this day would come....moving in day in Italy! I am grateful to be able to fulfill our dream and share it with students, family and friends.

Well I never thought this day would come….

Moving in day in Italy. From my 3 1/2 year search to phase one of our renovation of the main house, it’s truly been a sweet journey. I could not have done any of this, not one lick of it, without my best friend, and designer/project manager, Forrest Spears. He is truly an angel, and will continue to be as we move into phase two, the guest quarters, commercial kitchen and student lounge. I am hugely overwhelmed with the feelings that the Fortress is finally ours. We are restoring it to its full potential and will welcome our first workshop attendees in June.

I am grateful to be able to fulfill our dream and to share it with our students, family and friends over the next years to come.

Send me good vibes as all of you know moving day is a challenge.

I will be dealing with boxes eaten by what our workers called “field mice”… I think they were trying to be nice. I think the “mice”  are more like rats. We stored all of our belongings in our cantina (which is like a wine cellar), but obviously it’s been home to several rat families and creatures of the field over the past years. I think I will be adopting a few cats this summer. 🙂

So the glamorous life of living in the Italian countryside begins this weekend for me. Rubber gloves and endless buckets of soapy water and giant garbage bags will be there too, as they ate anything made of straw, wicker or paper. I won’t go into detail but a lot of stuff is pretty disgusting.

However, once I move it, the main house will be glorious. All I have to think of is my shiny new Lacanche, and it puts a smile on my face.

lacanche Our new Lacanche range fresh out of the box.

Thank you to all of you that have followed along to this point, cheered me on and were nothing but supportive and excited for us. We love that you continue to send good wishes and thoughts. I hope you all come visit us and share a glass of our wine from the vineyard. Continue to follow as we start phase 2 in the next couple weeks. It’s going to be an action packed summer. In the meantime love to you all, and grazie mille xx

The vineyard view from the guest room.

 

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The Fortress:: a renovation update from Italy

Ciao! As many of you know, I have been hopping back and forth from the US to Italy while we are closing in on our deadline for our renovation.

This renovation has been in over drive since November 14, 2016. It’s completion date is April 30th. Whatever you have heard about building and renovating in Italy, in this case I would throw it out the window. Our team in Italy has been amazing…no really really amazing. I am gobsmacked how quickly and efficiently this mammoth project is coming along. Granted we still have phase 2 which will commence in May.

I will say, we could not have done it without our designer/project manager extraordinaire Forrest and our Geometra Marco.

I have been hopping back and forth from the US to Italy while we are closing in on our renovation deadline, and today I have a renovation update for you. *Pictured here is the Terracotta finished, and the hand-painted vintage tiles from the 70s will be placed on the banquette as the kick-plate all the way around.

Last week: The new terrace tiles were laid, and I met with the blacksmith to design custom railings and a gate. We also met with a stone mason about marble counters, and stone seating for the wrap around banquette. I can hardly wait to enjoy aperitivo on the terrace with family and friends.

The terracotta tiles will be laid on all the walkways and in the studio space, as well as in the guest quarters’ out building.

Renovation update: our kitchen This is where the Lacanche stove will be, I adore the vintage pale red and greyish creamy checked tiles.

We observed the completion of the bones of the new kitchen. We took out a tiny pantry and bathroom to expand the kitchen, and when finished it will have 2 refrigerators, 2 dishwashers, 1 Lacanche stove and 2 vintage marble sinks. It will also feature vintage tiles, an antique larder, handmade lighting and plumbing fixtures, metal shelves, Carrara marble counters and back splashes, and plenty of copper. Not to mention nonstop sunlight with 3 windows covering all exposures. Needless to say, I am thrilled and excited to start cooking in my new kitchen.

kitchen before Kitchen Before kitchen after Kitchen expanded (hint: the sink is still in the same place)

It was a crazy week, and it went by in the blink of an eye. I’m back for the summer May 4th, so be sure check out my instagram stories; it is going to be a crazy ride to the completion and the finished styling of our spaces.

Grazie tutti xx

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The Fortress: Renovation Update

As you all know, if you follow me on social media, I am currently hip deep in our home renovation project, the house named, La Prugna in Tuscany. The truth be told, I live for this sort of chaos, so what can I say? I am like a pig in sh-t right now. My designer and BFF is as well. We are born one day apart, and if he were not a 6 foot 4 big bear of a Colorado man, you would definitely think we were separated at birth. Forrest and I have always had a special bond and have always both been swept up in the idea of any construction project. But I think we would both agree that for the first time in our lives, this project just feels, well…right.

Italy Reno This is the facade of the house. All the old mortar has been blasted away and replaced with new mortar. Italy Reno They pick out the mortar, Forrest says it looks like rotten teeth… Italy Reno Then they fill it in with the new mortar. If they did not do this tedious process, the wind and weather would infiltrate the building. This is the back of the house; it’s the original fortress. You can see that from the architecture. The same mortar treatment is done here. It’s a thankless job, but I am so thankful that we have such great artisans working on the Fortress.

If you remember, Forrest was my constant companion house hunting, not my husband Frank (who is, as they say, a really good sport), but Forrest is my rock, and our creative director. He and I both fell in love with the Fortress, but since it was so huge we were both a little slow to pull the trigger at first. Three and half years and 45 houses later, we did. You’d never know we were hesitant from the way we have launched into the renovation of La Prugna – full speed ahead. With Forrest at the helm and me as the first mate, this ship is sailing along all sails bellowing with wind. Since I left Italy mid-November, we have managed to gut most of the living quarters, expand our kitchen times four, and started gutting the master bedroom and bathroom upstairs.

Italy Reno We blew away all the walls to make the kitchen much bigger.

We’ve blown-out every window in the house, and are quickly replacing them with beautiful new ones painted a deep graphite.

Italy Reno

In the studio, we put on a much needed roof, and added a WC and a sink. We are in the process of laying a heated floor.

Italy Reno

All the plumbing is being laid, and the electrical is also being added.
The out building has been given new life by demolishing the car park, which was a ram shackled portico, and we are building a parking area and a new driveway to that parking area.

Italy Reno Italy Reno Italy Reno They pulled everything down including the pergola, and then cut down some trees. The really cool thing about construction in Italy is there is no waste. The downed trees and rubble are the start of the retaining wall that will support the new driveway.

Phase one the studio and our living quarters is on track even though the wicked winter keeps rearing its ugly head. When it’s too cold outside, the crew heads inside to work. Our crew is amazing, and I feel blessed to have them working with me. Of course Forrest is a saint and a gentleman, and our savior on the project. Our Geometra Marco is a rock star!

The guest quarters will start construction in May, and our students arrive in June and will be able to see the crew in action, as well as enjoy styling and photography workshops with all of our amazing instructors and my incredible team.

So for now, full steam ahead. Look for lots of updates on my Instagram account and follow along as we make this vision come to life. Ciao tutti. xx

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Flea Marketing in the Lunigiana region of Italy

Flea Market

As many of you already know, we are renovating a medieval fortress in Lunigiana. It’s a region so close to Liguria, but considered Toscana. Close to Carrara, (where the marble is from) and only a few hours north of Florence, 1 hour from Parma; it’s sort of the perfect location. The best part is that it’s not a major tourist destination which makes it authentic and uncrowded. The very best part is that the flea markets and antique vendors have tons of amazing goods not yet picked through like major shopping destinations. You can still find unique items at great prices. Of course, NO English is spoken, you can only bargin in Italian which makes it all that much more fun, and of course lively.

The last couple of weeks, I have been dealing with the start of our BIG fortress renovation, plus purchasing the furnishings and finishes. We took a little break from the nuts and bolts of the reno and headed out for a wonderful roadside adventure: flea marketing along the coastline of Italy.

Only 45 minutes away on side roads (1/2 hour via the autostrada), we wound up at a treasure trove of goodies. I hunt with my BFF Forrest (he’s also part of Style Photo Workshops Team) and his boyfriend who’s the best picker I have ever encountered, and he happens to be an Italian prince, so his taste is off the chain. As we entered the joint, 14 chairs leaned against the wall – metal folding chairs that – I snatched them up for the Workshop Studio.

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Then Forrest headed one way, I headed another, and the Prince headed to the garden. Quickly I heard Roberto call out, “Annette come into the garden” (in Italian of course). In the darkest corner of the garden, I found him pointing at an iron bed. Headboard and footboard with delicate swirls. “The bed is complete,” he said. “All the nuts and bolts and frame are here.” “Fantastic,” I said. “It’s the perfect size for the guest bedroom.”

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We found it priced well, too. All we need to do is build a frame for the mattress. Old beds do not have the stability for a mattress since the mattress that most likely fit this bed was made of straw like a giant pillow. Good thing I have a great iron artisan at my disposal here in Italy.

As I get to know my new neighborhood in Italy, these flea markets are the perfect place to take our workshop attendees next summer. I will be continuing my tour of flea markets over the next months with my impeccable tour guides. Indeed I am a lucky girl.

I invite you to follow along on my Italian Renovation adventure on instagram.

Happy hunting xx

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