Thursday, 25 December 2014

Holy night

A picture-perfect, frosty and white Christmas arrived for us after all but I’ve been too busy to record any of it. With these photos of street corners and facades of Rome I wish everyone most relaxing and happy holidays.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Wet icing

I did mention something about snow on my previous post but I certainly didn’t wish for the sleet and slush that have been troubling us since the weekend. There is no point having a snow cover if it is as wet as rain and comes with a thick cloud cover meaning more days without any sunshine.

Hubby took these photos a couple of days ago when he walked to the mailbox at around 9 am. I’m afraid we haven’t had it much brighter than this in days, perhaps weeks.

The white icing was so heavy on the trees and shrubs I had to carry out some lilac rescue as I noticed we had already lost a couple of trunks. Plus the top of a birch. Soon all this will be gone and we’ll be back to the even more depressing grey darkness sprinkled with rainfall. How could anyone survive our kind of winter without the festive season?

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Canopy from a cowhouse

By the way, have you noticed the ironwork canopy over our side door? It is a blacksmith-made, originally black one we bought at the Domus Classica store of the Metsänkylän Navetta, which is a treasure-house for any builder and restorer searching for traditional building materials and items as well as information.

We added the canopy a couple of years ago. I felt black would be too prominent, as well as out of line as the colour of our steel sheet roofing is graphite grey, and insisted it must be painted using the blue grey hue of the trimmings. He wasn’t that keen on the painting but was completely convinced when he saw the result installed above the entrance. It does pay to be persistent sometimes.

Should you ever be close to the town of Hämeenlinna on a Sunday do pay a visit to the nearby Navetta (meaning cowhouse). It is located in a small country community of a few families and is therefore open only once a week. Every Sunday from noon till 3 pm the place will feel like there was a small country fair going on, at least in the summer season.

Domus Classica.
The huge cowhouse and several other farm buildings are full of recovered items: doors, windows, timber, bricks, sinks, radiators, glass lamp shades and globes, and much more. There is even an idyllic café you shouldn’t miss. And there’s the Domus Classica store, also operating online, selling new materials and fixtures for those who want to renovate their old house or apartment without compromising the authentic look.

I’m including some photos I took when we fetched the canopy, as a reminder how it could be this time of the year. Now the days are mainly wet and dark. Only every once in a while are we lucky to experience a frosty afternoon like this, full of the powder-like whiter shades of grey.

More about our roofing project here.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

On choosing colour

Twelve years ago when I bought this place and started planning the badly needed exterior renovation for the house I began where every woman would, from choosing the colour scheme. I knew my house would have to be of yellow-painted wood with some blue details. I also knew the colour couldn’t be selected at a paint shop.

For the next couple of years or so I kept my eyes on every yellow wooden house I saw wherever I was driving. I wanted to find a hue that would look perfect throughout the year in all our dramatically different seasons. Not too pale in the bright sunlight and greenery of summer and not too bright in the whiteness and total greyness of the colder seasons.

When I was sure about the ideal colour – I spotted it on a house that had recently been renovated and by which I drove every day on my way to and from work – I simply drove to the yard congratulating the owners on their admirable project. They had turned their plain-looking house into the absolute beauty in the neighbourhood.

The owners were delighted I had noted their efforts and were more than happy to tell me all about the paint. They suggested I should come over one day to hear more about their undertaking, which we did a few months later over a cup of coffee at their lovely place. They even gave me the details of the architect who had designed their project. I then contacted her and her office drew the plans also for our exterior renovation.

The couple from the nearby village explained how they had made it the traditional way. The mister had cut the timber from their own forest and after having it milled had kept the boards in their barn for a year or two to let them dry properly. Then he had been painting them in the barn over the winter to have them ready waiting to be nailed on the walls when the actual building would start.

Naturally, we couldn’t follow any of the old-world ways. Our boards came practically straight from the sawmill, they were painted in our yard only weeks or days before nailing – luckily it was the nicest of summers with no rain at all – and were boarded on the walls with just one coating.

Nevertheless, we are most happy not only with the hue, which is called straw yellow, but also with the paint itself. It is a traditional four-oil paint manufactured by Okram company, locally knows as the Virtanen paint factory, at Parainen in the Turku archipelago. It is very easy to apply, has great hiding characteristics, holds colour very well, allows the wood to breathe thus keeping it healthy and is known to provide a long service life. What’s more, it can be applied in all kinds of conditions from +25° to -10C!

These excellent qualities were, in fact, achieved by Mr Virtanen more than 50 years ago when he couldn’t find a paint that would withstand the rough and damp conditions of the archipelago but had to develop it himself. The exact formula is a secret but it is based on linseed oil and linseed oil varnish is used as the solvent.

Two years ago, that is six years after the renovation, we decided to apply a second coating to the walls to give the house a finishing touch. Moreover, the boards our contractor had used were so rough quite a lot of dirt had stuck on their uneven surface especially on the northern side of the house.

So we set off by giving the walls a thorough wash. Then we scraped the roughness away from the boards releasing quite a lot of paint in the process, brushed the boards and finally painted everything over. Except for the northern gable, which is far too high for any amateurs to reach safely so we had it painted only this summer. Now the walls should not need another counting in at least 20 years or so. Into the bargain, he applied a second coating to the window and door trims, corner posts and other bluish grey structures decorating the building.

We had the windows replaced with traditional wooden casement windows and I got what is rarely seen these days: the frames in a different colour.

From the very start, we were so pleased with the colour scheme we used the yellow on the barn doors and of course on our late Jack’s cat house. We also brought a bit of the bluish grey and blue hues into the interior. More about that one day, perhaps.