Tag Archives: renovation in Italy

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’m 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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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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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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Our Vineyard Walk, a Pause from Renovation in Tuscany

img_4146 The Vineyard

As many of you may know, Frank and I bought a medieval fortress with a vineyard in northern Tuscany. I am here now overseeing the renovation with my best friend, Forrest. Lucky for me, he’s a designer and is very experienced with renovations in Italy. In fact, he designed our first house here in Alassio, Italy 12 years ago. It’s daunting and exciting, and quite frankly sometimes I have to pinch myself. When we were looking for a property to renovate, owning a vineyard was never in the plan.

The Vineyard The Vineyard

After looking for 3 + years, we finally settled on La Prugna, a fortress perched on the top of a mountain with an incredible view. The vineyard, quite frankly, was an afterthought, we were so focused on buying the house, which is an impossible task in Italy (I won’t go into details, I will save that for my book Italy is my Boyfriend which I am currently writing), and when I tell you buying this property was so all consuming that the vineyard never crossed my mind, I mean it. In fact when I tell people about the house, I frequently don’t even mention the vineyard, or it’s buried in the lede.

A few months have passed since the purchase, so the renovation is in full swing. I can finally relax and start thinking about the positives…and the vineyard is a big positive. It has finally sunk in the we now have our own wine. I am drinking it every night at aperitivo and am completely mind blown! We will be serving it to all of our students at workshops, and yes, students will be able to take some home. Of course I have already given the task of creating our label to a graphic designer and illustrator, my good friend Penny. She and I have already put together some amazing ideas, and of course, the label will represent The Fortress in all of its glory.

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I took a walk in the vineyard on a gorgeous fall day, enjoying the beautiful path along the way. For me it was surreal as I never imagined that we would ever own a vineyard; it was not something that I even dreamed of. But sometimes life takes you places you never envisioned. I have always lived my life this way: follow the journey and see where it leads. This path lead us to our vineyard.

Go figure.

Follow along as we design our label; I may have you help us pick the winner, and of course, as we renovate The Fortress. You can see progress here on my instagram account

If you want to see the progress in person, we still have spots open at our style photo workshops next summer. Check them out here. They are filling up, so if you’re interested, I would grab a spot at the table; you can taste our wine for yourself and enjoy the view of the Tuscan countryside.

Cin cin xx

 

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