Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sotto Le Stelle 05 - Structural Decisions

A weekend for big decisions on Sotto le Stelle so the builder can crack on with the works.

One can have loads of alternative plans but there is nothing like being in the physical space to make the decisions firm. Saverio, the builder, needed to know where to put the wiring and plumbing so we had to decide the basic layout. The key decisions made were:
  • the heating will be underfloor
  • the kitchen area will be a linear range, not peninsular, not U-shaped
  • the kitchen units will be (left to right): fridge, dishwasher, sink, cooker, hob
  • the bathroom will be (clockwise), handbasin, shower head, shower entrance, loo
  • the stairwell ceiling lump under the sink will be boxed over not lowered
  • the washing machine will go at the top of the stairs to the roof
  • we will not have alternative washing machine plumbing laid in to the chimney niche
  • there will be no solar panel nor hot water tank on the roof
  • locations of power sockets and TV ariel socket decide
  • the door straight ahead at the top of the entrance stairs will be blocked off
  • and the big one - the dividing wall is to go, apart from a small stub by the kitchen range

Mary explains the plan to Chris and John

Our neighbours are part of the planning committee. We have consulted with our friends to gather as many ideas as possible.

Kitchen Wall (street to the left)

The niche on the left wall might be used for storage. Fridge at the left hand end then the dishwasher. The sink will be centred in the big niche, which used to be a door through to next door. The oven will be in front of the well opening, then the hob with extractor fan above.

Stairs from street, stairs to roof, bathroom

Most vertical walls will be re-plastered. After some discussion we took Saverio's advice and decided to leave the stonework of this wall exposed to make a feature of it. The bathroom arch will need to be partially narrowed to provide privacy for the loo just on the inside to the right and to accommodate the door which will open outwards.

The former loo and street-side Juliet balcony

The niche to the left is, in fact, a fireplace with chimney above. A previous owner had built a small cupboard to contain the WC and the tiniest handbasin ever. We toyed with fitting the washing machine there but decided storage space was more valuable and are putting the washing machine at the top of the roof stairs.

Doorway at the top of the entrance stairs

At the top of the street stairs there are two doors: one straight ahead into the long room (bedroom / living room), one to the left into the square room (kitchen / dining room). One option considered was cutting a step into the double height threshold as it is too high for a single step. It would lead straight into the bedroom area. We are keeping our options open on how to separate bedroom from living area. However space is very tight and so the best plan is to block the door up and gain some floor space round the bed. Access will be via the other rooms.

Living room end of the long room (valley to the right)

The sofa bed will go against the end wall. The dividing wall to the left will go - apart from a low wall that will form the end of the kitchen units and mark a boundary between the two halves of what will now be a large open plan space. The result will be a spectacular full view of the complete ceiling arch.

Bedroom end of the long room

The niche on the left was filled in and plastered over. The works revealed it and opened it up - space is at a premium and every cubic centimetre is to be recovered. The blocked up doorway straight in front will become clothes storage space. The far right doorway will be blocked up. The wall between the pillar and the nearer door will go.

Window in the valley wall

This provides some much needed natural light in the darkest corner of the room which will be the bedroom end of the long room.

Damaged corbel

I had spotted the damaged corbel which we guess was hacked off to allow tall wardrobes to be positioned against the wall. It clearly offended Saverio's sense of rightness and was already on his list to repair.


We were surprised to see so much scaffolding at the front when we arrived. Turned out the neighbour saw our works and commissioned Saverio to sand blast and re-surface his adjoining frontage at the same time - while the scaffolding and the equipment was all there.

None of these chimneys belong to us apart the the stubby one bottom right. Saverio, bless him, has persuaded the neighbours below and next door to re-vamp their stacks so that we will see stone rather than asbestos, concrete and stainless steel - a far more aesthetically pleasing outlook. Methinks there was possibly some quality negotiating done here involving scaffolding and chimneys.

It is good to have made some basic decisions after so much soul searching. Next month's visit will involve more deciding - probably mostly to do with kitchen units and appliances.

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