Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Tag: sketchup

Kitchen progress

I’ve lost the last couple of days to flu — nothing serious, but Sirem has been very patient with the usual tragic man-flu whining. So this seems like a good moment to take stock with a progress report.

Currently, the kitchen is our big priority.  As usual we’ve sat down with Sketchup to figure out what we want to build. Because the room is not that big, and there’s only the one door, we’ve found it much easier than when we designed our kitchen in Southampton. Basically the strategy is to build as much worktop space as possible and then to cover every available bit of wall with cupboards. Nobody ever complained that their kitchen had too much storage space, right?

Planned kitchen layout in Sketchup.

Planned kitchen layout in Sketchup.

The door is at the back of the picture, and that slot on the front left wall is an old fireplace where we plan to keep the gas bottles for the stove. The window ends up traditionally placed over the sink, front right. The microwave and our small oven get stacked on top of each other, and there’s a chunk of bonus storage space above the fridge.

So far, we’ve started on some of the framing work, and found some 18mm plywood to serve as a base for the tiled worktops. We’ve been lining things up out in the courtyard to check that it’s all going to fit. Once we take the pieces into the actual kitchen, there will be a lot less room to move.

Kitchen cupboards and worktops starting to take shape.

Kitchen cupboards and worktops starting to take shape. None of the kitchen walls are at right angles to each other, so there’s some fiddly bits with the carpentry.

At the risk of appearing to have gone full red-neck, here’s a shot of the nail guns I mentioned last time. They may look excessive but they’ve been extremely handy in putting together framing projects like the kitchen. Of course sometimes you have to use screws, but when you can get away with nails, the power to get twenty of them into the work piece inside a minute is just amazing. The little one, the staple gun, has probably been the big surprise: you can use it to put together something like a mitre-cut picture frame very easily, and it’s great for pinning up wire mesh for plastering.

Stuff.

Nail guns: the one on the left fires nails up to 5cm long, and is moderately scary. The one in the middle fires staples deep into timber, and is not so scary but will still hurt you. The one on the right fires 9cm nails and is absolutely terrifying.

This is what a box of 5000 wire-coiled 90mm nails looks like.

This is what a box of 5000 wire-coiled 9cm nails looks like. I hope not to need to go back to the shop for a while.

Last week we put a solar hot water system in. Or, more correctly, we paid the professionals to put one in. Previously we’d been using an instant hot-water heater but that was going to lead to big electricity bills if we kept it up. Solar has been great so far, with plenty of hot water even on the cloudier days.

Our new solar hot water system, on the roof above the bathroom.

Our new solar hot water system, on the roof above the bathroom.

While we had the tools and timber out for the kitchen, we also thought we should put some kind of bed together for the cats that are sleeping outside. (Yes, I’m ashamed to say there is currently a terrible apartheid system in place where the pampered UK cats are sleeping indoors and the hard-grafting Turkish street cats are sleeping outdoors.)

Combined bench and cat box project. The cats were supposed to sleep underneath so people could sit on the top, but as you can see the cats had other ideas.

Combined bench and cat box project. The cats were supposed to sleep underneath so people could sit on the top, but as you can see they had other ideas.

The idea was to make a box to keep the cats out of the wind, and to put some cushions and blankets inside to make it comfortable. We’ve since put a panel of clear plastic over the middle section to help them keep more body heat in there. They seem to appreciate it.

This is Suzi, one of Sütlaç's kittens. How can you look at that face and not build some kind of shelter for her?

This is Suzi, one of Sütlaç’s kittens. How can you look at that face and not build some kind of shelter for her?

Dog dog.

Zeytin is shocked to learn that the cats now also have a house.

On our way back from a walk today, we climbed the hill across the street to get a new view on our place. I really like the shot below, because you can see all the different bits and pieces that make up our little compound. From the front left, anti-clockwise, that’s the disused chicken coop, then the old house, the new house, the barn, and, if you look carefully in the foliage at the back, you can see the slab of metal roofing that keeps the rain off our clay oven.

The farmhouse from a new angle. I like this shot because you can see all the different buildings.

Our farmhouse from a new angle.

And, in conclusion, a shot of a poplar tree to show the advance of the seasons…

Autumn colours in the village.

Autumn colours in the village.

PS: there is one more thing. We really appreciate all the comments on the blog, but we’ve been a bit surprised to find how prevalent spam commenting is in the blog world. (Probably many of you out there already knew this.) At first I was manually approving or deleting every comment, but when the spam count got into the thousands it became overwhelming. So we’re currently relying on some spam filters that work on keywords. It makes my life a lot easier, but the downside is there’s a small chance that every now and then we’ll block a legitimate comment. If a comment of yours seems to go missing, I apologize in advance, and please feel free to email me and I’ll sort it out.

A sofa at last

The courtyard here is our living room: we have three rooms and a kitchen, but the place to sit, relax, and eat is usually outside. (At least while the good weather lasts!) We got a lot of use out of our plastic camping chairs, but eventually we wanted something more comfortable. So we decided to build a sedir: a kind of low, long, wooden Turkish sofa.  We put our ideas into Sketchup and then bought some wood.

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The original plan in Sketchup.

Construction took a few days and lots of cups of tea. Jason worked very hard and luckily my mum was around to help. I was responsible for photography but that means you can’t see how much I was helping too.  🙂

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Jason testing the strength of the wooden beams. No middle support yet.

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The second part of the “L” taking shape.

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Working into the night: Jason was determined to finish it before dawn. Luckily we have tolerant neighbours.

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That is me with the important job of putting some weight on the corner.

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Woodwork finished at last.

After a late night finishing the construction, we sanded everything down and used our new compressed-air spray gun to stain the sofa. I bought some blue and white fabric, and found a local tailor who specializes in cotton-filled cushions and duvets. He put together some very nice fat stuffed cushions within a few days.

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Spray gun time. Jason says everyone should own an air compressor. I am not sure whether I agree with him.

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Done!

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Cushions arrived. It is as comfy as it looks.

The whole thing cost us 200 lira for timber and screws, 30 lira for a tin of wood stain, 75 lira for fabric, and 500 lira for the tailor to make the cushions. That’s a total of 805 lira or £226. Not bad! (Jason wants me to add that these calculations assume he works for free.)

We also felt bad that our dog Zeytin was still living in a cardboard box as winter approaches. So we knocked together a little dog house for her. She is again pleased with her new accommodation.

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Another house! For me?!

Finally, you are never very far from animal-related drama in a small village in Turkey. The other day we came home to find four beautiful puppies had been abandoned on the road near our house. We had to do something for them: I think the pictures show how impossible it would have been to leave them out in the street. It was a long night of feeding them milk and cleaning up their pee and cuddling them.

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So much cuteness in one box.

Unfortunately we just couldn’t keep them because we already have five cats and a dog. So we made some phone calls to animal charities in the area, and luckily we found there’s an excellent dog shelter in Aydın run by the local council. They assured us that all four puppies would have no problem finding a new  home, so that made us feel a bit better about the sad moment of having to part with them.

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OK, where are we going? Is there food there?

 

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.

The plan

So what are we planning to build, exactly? Here’s a “before” picture showing what we’ve got to work with. Our fig orchard is that area with the trees up on the hill, and the courtyard with buildings on the left is the farmhouse where we’ll live while we work on the project. Towards the back of the picture you can see a cutting where the road goes up to a nearby lake and on into the mountains.

Plan showing the orchard and farmhouse as they are now.

Plan showing the farmhouse and orchard as they are now.

We want to build a six-room hotel, with the rooms grouped into three pairs. Each building will be a generously proportioned bungalow, and each room will have its own secluded verandah. We also need a swimming pool (of course!) and a kitchen with a terrace for serving breakfast, etc. Here’s our current plan for how it will all be laid out. That’s the kitchen and terrace at the bottom centre of the picture, and you can see a couple of pergolas giving shade for the garden. There’s also a low wall that runs along our southern boundary. Most of the verandahs will look out across the pool and to the south. Plenty of room on the roofs for solar panels, too.

Plan showing how the different buildings will be laid out on the orchard block

Plan showing how the different buildings will be laid out on the orchard block

These pictures were done in Sketchup 2013. It’s a great free-to-use 3D design program and we totally recommend it if you’re building anything from a bookshelf to a house.

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