Finding Your Niche

A nice design element you find in older houses and buildings is the wall niches. Called nicchia (plural nicchie) in Italian, they are often used to display a statue or another interesting object. We had seen these in other houses and felt they would be a nice thing to include in our house, but to a more utilitarian purpose.

example wall niche
Wall niche example

Because of the reinforced concrete framework of the house, the exterior walls are 40cm (16 inches) thick. That allows you to place some nice-sized niches in the wall without taking space from the rooms, replacing furniture or shelving.

We decided to include four nicchie, one in each bathroom and one in the study. The one in the study will be big enough and deep enough to act as a bookcase, while those in the bathroom will be smaller and shallower. All will have built-in wooden shelves, with the stain matching the lintels (as of now TBD.)

(One to-be-resolved issue related to the bathroom nicchie is whether they can be above the toilet, as we want them to be. The practice in Italy is to use toilet tanks that are inside the wall, so we’re not sure if the nicchie will fit there.)

drawing of bathroom niche for a house in Italy
Bathroom nicchia plan
Click image to enlarge
office niche for house in Italy
Office nicchia
Click image to enlarge
Some Costs

The bid we got from the carpenter for these was higher than I expected and hadn’t been provide for in the budget. Here’s how he presented it:

The niche shelving:

  • Four shelves to be made in solid 3.5cm oak, custom width and overhang detail, to 25cm deep. Timber to be aged and distressed as per house style
  • Delivery and mounting, included

Kevin.s comment: “Per Nicchia estimated job: €380, this price is good given the work, materials and desired look … note 4 niches = €1520, call it €1500 … note I will adjust prices downward if actuals are smaller.”

I did note to Kevin that only the office nicchia is supposed to be 25cm (10 in) deep. Those in the bathroom are planned at 15cm (6 in).

We may need to make some further adjustments to stay on budget.

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