Friday, February 21, 2014

Update on the house

In the previous post I threw up some lo res pix of work on the house. Right now I am up in Canada and, hey, I have some bandwidth. So I can post some better res pix of the work, which has been progressed a little since last time.

But first, some background.

The obra negra (unfinished) house we bought originally had two small courtyards front and rear, extending across the width of the property and accessed via a door to the lounge at the front of the house and a door out of the dining room at the rear. There were two big ugly wooden windows looking out to those spaces. The set up had niggled me for years because the courtyards were practically useless as the spaces they should have been.

Well, that was pretty much the story for the poor old house as a whole. The biggest house I have ever lived in, but with most of the space in the house pretty dysfunctional. No flow, no style, no grace, no elegance. But I didn't really know what to do about it, or have the time anyway, until last year when I realised that part of the issue was a total lack of flow, and that the courtyards were actually inaccessible so far as Mexican style use of them was concerned. You needed to be able to "open out" onto them, and let them extend inwards and for the house to extend outwards.

The fix was simple. Knock the windows out, knock out the wall beneath the windows, and put in decorative metal french doors that opened everything up with good 8 to 10 foot wide openings.

That worked!! It is now possible to sit in the lounge, listenign to music and have the space extended out to the fountain playing in the courtyard, with all the nice coloured lights -- and a big mozzie zapper ready to be installed.

But then there was another issue. My 1973 Triumph bike. It needed space, and while classic bikes are really meant for bedrooms, the bedrooms in the house are all up on the first floor, and I had it on very good authority that there would be no riding up and down the stairs. Lounges are also OK for classic bikes, but there wasn't really enough space there either. But there was this large downstairs office that was no longer really being used as an office because our Mexico office days are now -- mercifully -- pretty much over. Nothing more to write. Other things to do. But the office was not really big enough to to take the bike AND leave some space for the times when some downstairs office space was needed.

And there was a problem with storage. The room needed a big cupboard to store books and tech stuff and art stuff in.

Since I was in the mood for knocking out ugly windows -- man, were these windows ugly, or what? -- I got the idea of knocking out the office window that looked out to that end of the courtyard. The length of the office down one wall would be exatly right for the bike and a big cupboard. The reduced space problem could be addressed by extending the room out through where the window was to the wall at the end of the property, and then putting in french doors that opened out onto the courtyard at right angles to the original window. A smaller courtyard, for sure, but an eminently more attractive and useful one, with two wide open points of entry and exit -- total flow. And by widening the doorway from the lounge into the former office -- well, knocking the door out and leaving it as as arched open space -- by 6 inches, it meant the bike was a whole lot easier to get in and out with its full western handlebars.

All the work tables that went down one side of the office got cut out and turned into smaller individual tables to be used in spaces up on the roof, the new first floor patio running off two of the bedrooms (and constituted by the roof to the downstairs former office extension), and elsewhere. This opened things up nicely, and the work proceeded.

It is now almost finished. I built the cupboard and installed the bike. Much of the former office space is still cluttered with tools and paint and painting trays and rollers and you name it. So the photos just focus on the areas that are open and, of course, on the cupboard and the bike. When everything is finished I will update.

Here is how it looks -- there are a few art shots in there -- but most of it is just what you see.

One last thing. In some of the pix you will see an artist's easel. Several years ago we met the neo-impressionist artist, Windsor Joe Innis, during the period he was living and painting in Coatepec. Joe was renting a place just a few doors down from us and had his studio down in the Centro. When his work was finished and he and Suzie were headed off to Korea for the next phase, we bought various items they did not want to ship with them. One item was the easel. Another is the table he did his framing on, along with other work. I have the table in the upstairs office, which is about to be transformed into the media room. Michele has the easel on which Joe painted many of the pictures you can see here. For much more on Joe and his work and his highly interesting life I recommend beginning from his front page.

Coatepec has always been full of surprises, and at its best it positively inspires.