Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

The joy of Sketchup

Almost as soon as we got here, we needed to build things. A mattress on the floor is OK, but it’s better to have a bed. And with the old kitchen knocked out by our plumbing work, we needed a better alternative to washing up the dishes with a garden hose. Surely we could rig up an outdoor worktop that would re-use the old sink?

The free 3-D design tool Sketchup has been really handy for this sort of thing. We started using it a few years ago, designing a re-modelled kitchen for our house in Southampton. We used it a lot more when we had to get planning permission for our straw-bale bungalows here in Turkey. I know that for simple jobs you can just sketch things on the back of an envelope, but having the ability to see how something is going to look in 3-D is really addictive. It’s also helpful for buying the materials: knowing exactly how much timber you need, for example.

Double bed planned in Sketchup.

Double bed planned in Sketchup.

Bed coming together in the real world.

Bed coming together in the real world.

OK, so the bed was a straightforward job, but I was pretty happy about getting it done with only a handsaw, hammer, and nails. (All the fancy power tools are still in our shipping container.) And then the outdoor sink was something I’m sure I would have messed up without Sketchup to help plan it out.

3-D model of the outdoor kitchen worktop.

3-D model of the outdoor kitchen worktop.

The outdoor kitchen: tiled and stained and seeing lots of use.

The outdoor kitchen: tiled and stained and seeing lots of use.

At this point maybe you’re thinking that I am getting a commission from the people who make Sketchup, but sadly no. I just like it a lot. The next job is designing our indoor kitchen as the room is now tiled and ready to go.

Kitchen after tiling but before grouting.

Kitchen after tiling but before grouting. (The orange stuff on the wall is meant to stop the mortar from crumbling.)

Not to mention the real work of designing our accommodation and landscaping up in the orchard, but that’s another story…

OK, so this post was possibly a bit dry for people who are not that into amateur carpentry. So, apropos of nothing, here’s a picture of some recent visitors-turned-fig-picking-volunteers crammed into the back of our truck.

Poorly paid fig pickers distracted with a ride.

Poorly paid fig pickers distracted with a sunset ride to the lake.

And finally, some more gratuitous cat photos.

Şurup reclining above our heads, nestled in the grape vines.

Şurup reclining above our heads, nestled in the grape vines.

Round 307 of Şurup and Tarçın's endless wrestling match. If you think of Şurup as Mt. Miyagi and Tarçın as Ralph Macchio it all makes sense.

Round 307 of Şurup and Tarçın’s endless wrestling match. If you think of Şurup as Mr. Miyagi and Tarçın as Ralph Macchio it all makes sense.


  1. looking really good :-)

  2. I am watching with great interest how your lifestyle change is evolving. It just looks so relaxing and wonderful even though you are obviously working very hard. As you go into autumn will the change of season effect your progress? I guess there is a lot you will need to get finished before winter comes along. I love your photos. Keep them coming xx

    • Jason

      31 August, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Thanks, Anne. Good question. I think life here will definitely change with the seasons, but in some ways it should be helpful. It’s quite hard to get a lot of work done in the middle of the day out in the summer sun. Autumn should be much better weather for digging foundations and laying concrete, etc.

      Winter will be interesting. We made a point of visiting here in the middle of last winter to get a feel for how cold it gets, and during the day it was really pleasant. High temperatures of about 12 or 13, that sort of thing. True, it gets cold at night, and we haven’t yet decided on our heating choice. We might do something simple this year (e.g., crowding into one room with an electric heater) and then get more clever about it the next time around when we’ve had more time to build stuff.

  3. Great to see things finally happening. The outdoor sink looks great. Love the pic too.

    • Jason

      31 August, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Cheers, Laura. Progress here is weird: some days I feel we haven’t done anything very impressive given that we’ve had six weeks now. But lots of little things build on each other: for example, buying the car means we’ve had more freedom to shop around the local towns, and now we feel a lot more confident about where to get timber, cement, plaster, MDF, straw, plumbing fixtures, tools, etc. I hope things will start rolling along from now on. :)

  4. I so completely understand the SketchUp addiction, having myself fell for it! The kitchen’s sink cabinet looks amazing: very impressed. (I must show you my kitchen and bathrooms drawing.) Love from us 3

    • Jason

      31 August, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      It is good to know it’s not just me with the Sketchup thing. :) I don’t think the outdoor sink would win any awards for precision (if you look carefully not all the legs are parallel, for example!) but the fact that it was built with no power tools gives me a warm (and exhausted) fuzzy feeling.

      Do send pics of your kitchen and bathroom! We can trade Sketchup files on WeTransfer or somewhere if you like.

  5. Hi Jason,
    I think we will have to refer to you as Mr Versatility, as you seem to be a dab hand at most things. We are really impressed with the progress and you have achieved a lot in a short period. as they say Rome was not built in a day.
    best wishes to the both of .

    • Jason

      31 August, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Hey! Great to hear from you. I hear Wilton Crescent has a bit less shrubbery since we left? :)

      Thanks for the kind words. We’re getting there, I hope. Will be interesting to see where we are by Xmas.

  6. Ooooh you guys I am so jealous!!

    And I WANT sketchup (and then a carpenter to build the things I design).

    Hugs for all (except marlow cos he doesn’t like my hugs)

    • Jason

      1 September, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Cheers, Bonny. Sketchup Make is totally free, honest. And has 98% of the features of the expensive Pro version. And don’t be so sure about Marlowe: he’s mellowed a lot as he’s got older. I think he’d be into your hugs now. :)

  7. Stuart 'Bower Bird' Rossiter

    22 September, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    THAT SINK HAS DEVIATED FROM ITS SKETCHUP DESIGN. TO THE STAKE WITH YOU! [Was very disappointed not to see the designed end-flanges in the finished product.]

    Verdict: must do better next time. C+

    (Actually some great carpentry there; I’m somewhat jealous of those with practical *and* mental skills such as yourself, though I appreciate that the Lord has negatively compensated you in other ways.)

    • Jason

      22 September, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      In my defence, the end-flanges are in the finished product. It’s just that the worktop got extended on the left-hand side so there was more room to stack dishes, and maybe because it was going to lead to less tile-cutting, I can’t recall. But you’re right, I have let you down, and I have let myself down. I know you’re not mad, just disappointed.

      Don’t get me started on the many ways in which the Lord has seen fit to handicap me, starting with my appalling taste in friends. :)

  8. Hi Jason,
    you are clearly a man of many talents, adding construction to your list. I have to say that me an Angella are impressed by your endeavors and hard work and equally envious .
    Best wishes Josh and Angella

    • Jason

      6 October, 2014 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks, you are too kind! We need to build up our skills with this kind of thing if we’re going to build the big six-bungalow project up on the hill. Still, it is nice to be doing work where you can see positive results at the end of each day.

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