Now that lights have been installed, three tiny issues have been discovered:
(A couple of the lights arrived with broken glass panels. Kevin suggested we just replace the glass, instead of trying to return them. That was taken care of.)
Kevin noted that the placement of one of these lights caused it to create a beam at eye level when approaching the stairway. To eliminate this effect, we just had the light removed.
Lights Outside Kitchen Door
Wires had been put in place for lights on both sides of the kitchen door and two lights that didn’t match had been installed. My intention had been for one of these lights to be higher on the wall and more toward the corner, one of the general outside lights that we have around the house.
Given the actual placement, it looked like they were supposed to be a pair, but mismatched. To fix this little error, we’re going to swap out the general exterior light for one that matches the other kitchen door light.
Light Bulb Style
A number of the fixtures had arrived without bulbs — no big surprise. Many of these fixtures have clear glass sides. Francisc had just purchased bulbs for these, but had selected regular white frosted light bulbs. Since the bulbs are so visible, we want something a bit nicer, so we asked Kevin to swap them out for the (trendy, we know) visible-filament “Edison bulbs.”
We spent part of two days during our July trip looking at lighting at SMAL, a lighting distributor. We walked away with two issues: we couldn’t find suitable lights for some locations and the total price of what we selected was too high.
After we returned home, we did a lot of searching online to find substitute lights that were more affordable. Having a selection in place was a plus; even if we weren’t going to use a SMAL light, we had something to guide us in our search.
We focused on amazon.it and searches at google.it to identify some possibilities. After a few days of work, we found most of the lights we need. We ended up with about a 30% cost reduction from the original number. (Even after our searching, we had trouble finding suitable replacements for the low voltage cable lights in the main room. We liked the look or what we had selected, so we stayed with our original choice despite the higher cost.)
Then this activity went dormant for a couple of months, until last week Kevin asked us for our final lighting list. He wanted to know what to order from SMAL and for us to order, for delivery to him, lights from the other sources.
We put together a packet with purchase lists and diagrams showing where each light is to be placed. Based on the list of non-SMAL lights, I went online to make the purchases.
Fortunately, about 80% of the lighting we found was from Amazon. Fortunate because amazon.it would let me order from the US for shipment to Italy. The other sites wanted a credit card with an Italian billing address. So we asked Kevin to order those lights himself.
Source: All lighting images: Copyrights held by maufacturers and/or distributors of products
Over two days, we spent about 7.5 hours looking at lighting and making some decisions. We didn’t quite get to everything, but when we finished the second meeting, on our last day of the trip, we felt we were in pretty good shape.
To give us some guidance on our lighting choices, we had engaged Alessandra to help us. Off we went, joined by Kevin, to a lighting supply store.
Oh, my! It was a nice store, full of samples hanging everywhere, and my first reaction was that no one would ever buy any of it. It looked like just a bunch of unsold inventory. Both Anne and I had our doubts whether this was going to be a fruitful visit.
We were looking for 27 different types of lights, not counting where we were going to use the same light in multiple locations.
Slowly, we started to identify a few lights that might be right or that gave us some guidance for what to look for in the catalogs.
We spent quite a bit more time looking at catalogs than floor samples. One limitation of this approach, which we realized later, is that the floor samples were tagged with a price, so we knew what we would be spending. The catalog items were shown without prices.
Predictably, when the costs were totaled, we came in too high, probably 40% above what we expected. The only good news is that most of the overage was caused by just a few high-priced lights, so if we can find replacements for those we may be able to get the costs back in line.
We started our search for alternatives the next afternoon during our flight home. Anne was able to find lights she liked, but from US sources, and since the electrical system in Italy uses a different voltage and frequency, we can’t use US lights there.
So we’re looking at amazon.it and other sources, from which we may be able to have items shipped to Kevin for storage until needed.
After a break of a couple of hours where Anne and I had enough time for lunch and a small rest, we set off to Kevin’s office. I was sure I knew the way — until we had been driving farther than I expected past San Ginesio. Just as I figured I’d gone wrong, we came around the corner and there was his driveway.
Our topics during the meeting included an overall project review, with timing and budget, a discussion of the electrical plan with a focus on lighting, color decisions about the beams and walls, a little bit about the pool finishing materials, and a brief overview of the structure relative to earthquake regulations. Joining us for parts of the meeting would be Alessandra, Francisc, and Primo.
Budget and Timing
We started by reviewing the budget and timing. The budget is right now still the same as December, but based on this morning’s look at the slopes of the property, we do have a major unbudgeted expense for dealing with them, either for earth moving, for buying more land, or both.
The construction team still thinks the house can be ready by the end of the year, but the contract date is the end of February, 2018, extended by any days lost to bad weather.
Next, we were joined by Alessandra. She is the architect of the house and we’d asked for her input on some design questions, as well. Anne noticed right away her glittery sneakers, which seem to be the style among young women in Italy these days.
The lighting plan was our first topic. I had done a detailed plan in November, but I had started to wonder if my numbers, types, and placements of lights made sense. I’ve seen some “rule of thumb” charts about numbers and wattage of lights needed that gave me pause.
Alessandra had made some changes to my plan, mostly minor ones, changing some hall lights to sconces rather than hanging lights, converting the recessed lights to cable lights as recessed are hard to do in our type of construction, and adding a light here and there both inside and out.
Not knowing our style, she showed us some design options which were probably too modern, sleek Italian for us. We promised to put together a style guide with pictures to give her some guidance.
Examples of Stone and Brick Work
As a follow-up to this morning’s discussion about stone and brick wall construction, we looked at Kevin’s house as an example. We saw how the bricks and stone of different sizes and fragments are used together to give an irregular appearance, so as to mimic an old stone house. We also saw on his house an example of the stone molding that will be at the top of walls near roof.
Our walls will be similar, even including dovecotes on the back. We looked at his lintels for color and he pointed out that whatever we do they need to be treated every few years because they fade.
Our first topic with Francisc was to look at pool materials and colors. Step one was to pick a liner color. Kevin told us we had a difficult choice to make as Francisc pulled out a color deck with dozens of colors, some of were unbelievably garish. Kevin then pulled a Henry Ford on us: we could have any color as long as it was white or tan. This was a local rule with the goal of making pools blend in more. We chose a tan, sand-like color. In the photo, there’s a blue overlay that simulates what pool will look like with water in it.
We moved on to the pool surround. Again, we had a small choice of materials and colors. Here we went with a brown real stone surround, with the pool border being a light gray.
Now it got a bit trickier. We needed to select a stain for the beams, one that would look traditional, complement the windows, and give us paint color flexibility. After some discussion, we selected a medium-dark color. (When Kevin sent us a picture of this after we returned home, it looked too orange. We hope that’s just the photograph or that the chestnut beams will tone it down.)
Anne had chosen the paint colors she wanted earlier, based on US colors from Benjamin Moore. Not surprisingly, we were able to find nearly exact matches from the European paint colors.
Finally, joined by Primo, we discussed how the structure was designed and built to be earthquake-resistant. This was just to satisfy my curiosity. During the discussion, we learned that the structure had been made even stronger during construction by enlarging some columns and beams.
Now 7:30, about 10 hours after we started, we were done with our first day. We felt we had made a lot of progress.