As I alluded to in the first post, when my Mom and I visited the house in 2004 to review the construction progress, we were taken aback,
My mom and I have very similar tastes. We both love the sun and beautiful views. When she gave the go ahead to the geometra (who in Italy is also a developer) she wanted two simple things. A single floor plan with an open floor concept, two bedrooms and lots of windows facing the sunny south with the beautiful mountains.
She was told by the developer that it would be better if they dug a foundation and put a garage in the lower level. She followed the advice He then suggested that she add a second floor and put three bedrooms and a bathroom on the upstairs level. She agreed.
The building plan was filed and construction began. It is incredibly challenging to build a house more than 4,000 miles away.
In the main floor, there was a bathroom and a laundry in the front of the house, blocking this incredible view and eliminating the open floor concept. The floor plan looked like this.
As we started to climb the stairs we noticed that the first few stairs were very steep and narrow. When we got to the top of the stairs, the beam supporting the roof was at my neck level. There was no access to two of the bedrooms on that floor. The worst part, the ceiling height was approved at 2.5 meters, it ended up a lot less.
The reason we were told that since we replaced a structure, we had to maintain the same height overall. The confusing thing was that the ceilings were 11 foot in the garage and first floor?
My Mom decided to stop construction immediately. We tried several times to get find a solution to these issues and were unable to. . We spoke to architects and others about how we could save the upstairs. We tried so many options with the same result.
The house sat idle for almost 20 years. Every year I would come to Italy look at it and it would make me upset. This was supposed to be our family’s home and it just sat there. We tried to sell it but it essentially had no value. So it continued to sit…abandoned in our little neighborhood.
Until January 2022.
Several things came together. After a lot of conversations, I decided to stop focusing on how the previous developer didn’t build what my Mom wanted and never made it right. I just let all of the anger and resentment go. I made my peace with it. Many times, when you stop being focused on one thing, other possibilities developed. One day I was speaking to my Mom and she said…all I wanted was a single floor plan with a lot of windows facing the south and an open floor plan.
All of a sudden I realized something. For so long I was focusing on saving the upstairs. I decided to let the upstairs go and focus on making my Mom’s vision come true. A single floor plan with open spaces and two bedrooms….on the first floor!
Deb and I decided to close the upper floor off. Remove the stairs and fill in the windows. Convert the first floor to an open concept, removing the bathroom walls, which were blocking light and any other interior walls. Expand the windows and doors on the south and east side to maximize light
After many hours working and modifying the plan we have this…..
After the terrible earthquakes of 1997, Italy enacted new laws increasing the requirements of new construction to be earthquake proof. The walls you see in the original layout are deigned to do just that. Even thought they interrupt the completely open concept we wanted, we had to work around them.
Again, initially I was very upset at these stupid laws and why they were messing up my vision of a completely open concept. So instead of fighting against it, I embraced them, The wall in the center of the house, which I even investigated putting a beam across to tear down, was the basis for the new bathroom. The walls that jutted out on either wide would have furniture tucked into them .
We couldn’t add windows or doors in the front, but we were able to add 3 windows around the rest of the house to let more light in. We were also able to expand the front and east facing doors ( all shaded in blue). The two rooms in the back were converted into a bedroom, bathroom and a living room that converts into a second bedroom with a sofa that converts to a full queen bed.
This was my mother’s dream…….now to make it happen!
In our next post…..why is everything in Italy so hard?