Tag Archives: renovation

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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Spring Cocktails, A Day at the Races, & More: It’s the Top 4

Here's a quick glimpse at some of my favorite (and our most viewed) blogs. It's our top 4 for April. Stay tuned for May!

Here’s a quick glimpse at some of my favorite (and our most viewed) blogs. It’s our top 4 for April.  Writing blog content is something I love to do, and it’s always neat hearing and seeing what you like, too. Let me know what you’d like to see more of in the future. Stay tuned for May; I can’t wait to show you what’s up my sleeve.

Top 4 for April:

The Fortress: A Renovation Update from Italy 

It’s Coming Up Cocktails: My Favorite Spring Sips

A Day at the Races

Ikea’s Jassa Collection

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 Renovation in Tuscany, and the Most Important Person in the World

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Many of you know that we are renovating a medieval fortress in Tuscany. More accurately, the Lunigiana, which is in northern Tuscany. The process of renovating a 7000 square foot ancient building in Italy is not for the faint of heart. Let me add here that we have had property here on the Italian Riviera for 12 years, so we had bit of an introduction to how the process works with that renovation.

Having said this, my best advice is to have an experienced designer or architect guide you through the entire process. Just like it’s important to have a qualified Notiao guide you through the process of purchasing your property.

When renovating, the most important person in your world is your Geometra!

Definition of a Geometra (Gee-o-me-tra)  or Surveyor:
Qualified professional to perform measurements of land, building code surveys, etc. Sometimes they design the project, they oversee management and the supervision of modest civil constructions.

Your Geometra will pull all of your permits, advise you about picking your general contractor, and guide you through the entire renovation process from start to finish. His main function in your life is to be the liaison between the building authorities in your community and you.

Our Geometra, Marco, is a great guy. My best friend, (I usually call him my Gubby or gay husband) Forrest, is our designer on this project;he has worked with Marco for many years.

Besides designing our flat 12 years ago, Forrest has worked as a designer overseeing projects for clients, and he owns 3 ancient houses in the countryside himself that he has renovated. So he’s experienced in all the ins and outs of renovating in Italy. Believe me, you want someone that’s experienced. Renovating in it Italy is overwhelmingly complicated.

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Yesterday we met with Marco and the contractor of choice. We scoured the property and talked about possible solutions to endless little issues. We went over the plans and discussed timelines and budgets.

The thing I love about Italy is the casual nature of things, but when meeting with your geometra there is nothing casual about the experience. I think we are all on the same page at this point.

But there are still many decisions to be made, so stay tuned! xx

La Fortezza

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