Tuesday, 31 July 2012


Some things need a lot of planning in advance, and the kitchen is certainly one of them. We need to know where things will go to plan the electrical and water/waste installations. Having spent considerable time browsing brochures and kitchen websites, we generally leaned in a "landhaus" or country style, but knew we'd never end up with something as good as the glossy photos, or the various showrooms we'd visited.

Enter Schäfer + Fitz, a fairly local company recommended by a friend.

After an initial meeting with Herr Weber, one of their salesmen who handily lives in our village, we discussed a couple of options for layouts, which I threw myself into using an online planner. On the floor plans, the kitchen looks large, but with low ceilings, one wall full of doors and a window, a great big post in the middle of the room and the early decision to put the dining room table in one half of it, space becomes a bit of a premium.

Early ideas were a U shape, which made great use of the working area, but threw a barrier across the middle of the room.

An L shape, with an island, and a couple of tall cabinets to house the fridge, a larder and an oven at a height (I really liked the idea of having the latter two items).
The thing is, on these online planners, everything looks far more spacious than in reality. After marking out the floor plan with spray-paint in the actual kitchen, it became apparent that too many high cabinets could feel oppressive, and the layout of the worktops didn't make for practical workspaces, apart from the island.

And so, after much deliberation, and many late evenings playing with combinations of all of the above, we decided on as simple and as open as possible, with loads of workspace. This meant sacrificing some of the things I really wanted, but I think it's more practical.

Our final meeting with Herr Weber was this afternoon, picking out individual pieces of equipment (I had to scale back on my oven and dishwasher choices, which were way over our budget, but we've chosen an excellent fridge and hob), and we've basically ordered this to be installed in Spring next year, getting a good deal just about within our budget, but with, we think, great quality stuff.

Of course, what is not modelled above are things like the posts and beams, not to mention the extractor hood, so here's an early preview from Schäfer + Fitz.
Of course, now I look back at our early ideas, I'd again love a higher level oven, but I know, when I go over and look at the reality, the cleaner lines of what we've signed up for make sense. The choice of colours, tiles, perhaps additional open shelving etc will, we hope, give it even more character. We have some time to go yet!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Adding more layers

More pictures, less text.

The back of the house got its first coat of plaster last week, making it less Lego-like.

Meanwhile, inside, I experimented with Putzschiene and Eckschiene (I think they're called beading and corner beading in English) as a means to get an even surface on the gable wall of the living room. This wall bellies outwards a bit, so it needed to be evened up before receiving internal insulation boards.

First, fixed up the beading at each end of the room, then when it had hardened, strung a line between them as a guide for the rest. Corner beading along the inside of the window opes, and continue the vertical line with the regular beading. The resulting straight edge meant a plaster depth of about 7mm at the top and bottom of the wall, and 2-3cm in the middle.

Beading set.

To fill that larger gap, lumps of mortar were thrown at the wall and allowed to harden before plastering and finishing using a 2m-long aluminium featheredge. Job done.
A dash of mortar
Fresh plaster done
On the front of the house, Enver, of the Bakan Clan (more of them anon), fitted sheet metal to cover the step in the wall. Basically, we wanted this done as when it rained, water would fall onto a horizontal surface and could seep in under the main beam running along the front of the house. Now it's sealed. It's a bit shiny, but perfectly fitted (I gut the chase into the beam, which was not pleasant work), and when it weathers to a dull grey it'll match the facade just fine.

Back in the kitchen, the plans are coming along, and today we more or less completed the desired layout, so all that is left to do is to choose equipment, fronts and handles, and get a good price! To help get to grips with the spacing, I sprayed out the placement of the units. This actually helped a lot in figuring out how people would move about the kitchen, and identified some bottlenecks. The post in the middle is a nice feature, but takes a little planning around.

So, moving along, but still too slow on the inside for my liking, but that's down to my own energy levels, which are currently low. Still, the living room is coming along nicely. Just a little more plastering to do before the base wiring and plumbing can go in!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Putting stuff back in

A lot has happened since my last update, so rather than boring readers with intricate details, here are the highlights.

Edinger and co have finished the outer insulation on the north and east sides of the house (the other two sides will be insulted internally due to orders from the building protection people). Makes it look like a giant Lego house.

We've also finalised the colour selection, but you'll have to wait and see. what that turns out to be like.

I rebuilt a manhole rim that got crushed by the big excavator when they were connecting the house to the main sewage system.

Old rim drilled out and frame built.
Job done. A perfect fit.

Inside, I finally tackled the limestone wall in the living room, armed with a tuck pointing trowel and three long evenings.

A tuck pointing trowel, which became my best friend.
 But first, this is how the wall looked in April 2011, after removing the dry walling that had hidden it.

"The Wall", April 2011.

And this is how it looks now, after sandblasting and repointing (note the ceiling was also removed to expose the beams).

Used a lot more mortar than I thought it would. The only issue, is that the mortar and stone have a very similar colour, so it doesn't have quite the punch we wanted. Maybe a cleanup (more sandblasting!) will define the edges better. For the window sills, I plan on reusing some of the old oak floorboards from the level above, which are wide and thick, hopefully adding a bit of character.

On the inside of the south (front) facade, I'd prepped the walls for plastering by nailing on ribbed expanded metal sheets, a must, considering the mixed nature of the walls. The idea was to plaster the walls with lime plaster to make them even (they are a crazy mix of oak beams, wattle and daub, bricks, patches of new plaster and the odd roof tile) and sealed, before insulating with wood fibre insulation boards.

The bedroom, with ribbed metal sheeting done.

Of course, plasterers are expensive, and this plaster will never be seen, to I decided to have a go. Despite everyone I know who had restored a house, including skilled tradesmen, telling me they'd do anything but plastering, I have to admit, I really enjoy it!

Plastering the bedroom
One wall in living room finished tonight.

I won't win any prizes for the finish, but at least they are almost perfectly even, ready for sticking insulation on.

So really, we've finally begun to put stuff back into the house, and it feels good!

As a bonus, our "Turkish Cherries" are ripe, and already three buckets have been filled, and jam has been made.