Soča Project - Renovating the Old House without Loosing its Original Charm

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About this project

At JVBDesignworks our main focus is the renovation of houses that over the years slowly lose their charm and purpose. Typically, their owners reach out to us when they feel they need to pass their house to a new generation of owners who want to give it a good “shake”. In this case, a lovely older Slovenian couple, who was ready to let go of their reasonability, sold it to a client that wanted to give the house a new purpose. We gladly took on this project and gave the space a new lease on life.

 Before the initial owners reached out to us, the house has been in the family for decades, which is why many old items have been accumulated on the site. The first-time site visit is always such a thrill for us as we get to go through all the rooms and pick out the items we would like to preserve. Later on, such items give a character to the entire house and connect Slovenian history, culture, and nature with new, fresh, and authentic looks.  In the photos, you will be able to spot the old sledge, by the stairs, that we refurbished. The red dinner dishes set in the ground floor kitchens and the 1970’s wine glass on the free-standing bar.

This house in the Soča is right on top of Velika korita – one of the most beautiful and also one of my favorite sights on the Soča river and in Triglav National Park. The house has direct access and is one of the only houses in the area at this particular tourist spot. – A rare gem to “stumble” upon. Knowing, that embarking on this project, we are responsible for creating something special for families who come and enjoy this area.  To give them the same experience inside as they experience outside. Indeed, we had our work cut out for us, to compete with one of mother nature’s most beautiful areas.

 Originally the footprint of the “liveable” house was rather small. The main living space was on the first floor. This consisted of two bedrooms, a small kitchen, a dining area, and a bathroom. The bottom of the house was mainly designated for storage. The attic was accessed by the outside stairs on the balcony and had a trap door.

 Working with a local architect to obtain planning permission, we worked out a plan to combine the living space into more than it currently was.  We had our challenges with creating an internal stairway as well as getting another bedroom and bathroom.

 The attic was the most wonderful space to create in. We had a lovely original beam to work with as well and very high ceilings.  We did a double-stack Velux window to create these beautiful streams of light as well as give people a wonderful perspective of the sky and mountains.

 Bringing the outside in. We also did huge doors in the living room to make the best of the valley views. One of the best spots to sit and watch summer storms roll in.

 Lighting was very important to us, the transition of light from day tonight. Therefore, we created ambient lighting in the peak of the ceiling by creating a deflective bar that runs across the top. This with the integrated lights, as well as the ceiling and standing lights, give the clients many options to create different moods with lighting.

 One of the challenges eves create is that you get dark corners at the base of the walls. Here we add some fun lighting with large candles holders as well as bespoke Thai inspired basket lights that we made.

Our strong color dominating color was black. Expressed in both metal and black wicker materials. The metal balustrade for a strong connection yet airy feel and the black wicker chairs and side tables for warmth and a strong connection with space and nature. We wanted to have a strong connection with nature in this space but keep the lines clean and clear. If you look closely you will see nature-inspired decor throughout.

We carefully select our décor materials, paint and wallpaper to reflect our story. When choosing the color and materials we like to use a socially responsible company ‘Farrow and ball’ for our designs, also because their paints and wallpaper do not consist of any toxic ingredients

The walls of both bedrooms are decorated with the F&B wallpaper. With their historically inspired prints, as well as being printed by hand, gives these wallpapers a lovely texter and richness to them, as well as not having a manufactured overall look. It’s can be challenging to hang, due to the paint on the paper, however, we have trained our decorators to master this art.

We wanted each bathroom to tell its own story. In the on-suit bathroom, we used a slipper tub. With the water coming from a well, we are always thinking about how to better take care of our natural resources. The slipper tub has a wonderful curved back for comforts and a stocky size gives you a wonderful bath experience with using only half the amount for water than larger tubs use.

For the other bathroom, we wanted to create a calm space that was grounded with a traditional washed terracotta tile. Using a classical white tile, that at a time varies in texture, we created a fresh, calm and natural feel to this space. With a view to the mountains forms the shower window, its lush;) We also added a vintage ladder to this space to further connect the contemporary and old feel.

 We created a garden kitchen, laundry room and washroom on the ground floor that falls out into the garden.

 When you do upside-down living, you always have to take care that entertaining in the garden can be challenging. This second kitchen is fully equipped with a refrigerator, dishwasher, and stove. There is no need to bring dishes or anything from the top floor. This was important so? that our guest would not have the issue of climbing two flights of stairs to bring things up and down while dining alfresco. In addition, we also allocated the laundry machine down here to encourage visitors to hand dry their laundry and dry it in the fresh country air. 

The outside look of the house has not changed much, and we like that. We are guardians of protecting these old homes that have so much history. Our intention is never to change the landscape of these old villages. We want to breathe life back into these spaces as well as create a modern comfortable living experience for the people who visit. We are happy that this house is now going to be admired by people visiting from all over the world.

To see the before and after pictures click here.


Before & afters about this project