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Thursday 26 October 2017

149. Summer kitchen reveal

I just remembered I promised a summer kitchen reveal months ago. Better late than never…

Our summer kitchen sits in the footprint of this crumbly old barn that we inherited in the corner of the garden. There was some lovely stone and a few salvageable old beams, but not much else to work with!

View of the 'barn' from outside our property. What a lovely view our neighbours had.

And this is it from inside the garden. It was a basic L-shaped
structure that we dared not go inside.

Rob built every inch of the summer kitchen himself, perfecting his bricklaying, stonemasonry, roofing, carpentry and cob oven skills (all of which were non-existent in his previous life in the UK). Look at the size of the old oak beams he lifted into place himself! He’s clearly a superhero, with a seriously useful superpower: watching YouTube videos of how to do DIY stuff and then recreating it with minimal fuss and swearing. I’m still in awe now.

After rebuilding the stone walls and building a new brick wall as a boundary, Rob shifted each
of these beams in place to hold the roof. At least he wasn't wearing flip flops this time.

Getting the roof struts on. Is struts even the right word? I need to watch
more YouTube DIY videos...

Even superheroes need wine sometimes.

Phase 1 of the roof in place and half the stone floor laid.

By now we'd built the pizza oven (I did at least help with that), but still not
got the rest of the roof on or plastered the brick wall.

Starting to build the dining area. Rob doing his best 'building' face.
I’ve never been very good at stylish, Instagram-worthy photos, so naturally I’ve rushed out and taken these pictures just now – when it looks really empty and unloved where we’ve not used it for the last month. I’ll follow up with some nicer pictures next spring. (Perhaps. If I were you, I’d take my blogging promises with a pinch of salt.) For now, you’ll just have to imagine it plus cushions, candles and hanging plants, and minus the cobwebs and encroaching weeds. 

View from outside. Sorry about all the weeds. I mean, who has time to weed outside their property. I'm anal but not that anal.

Phase 2 of the roof on, above the cooking area, and nice old stone floors everywhere.

So the L-shaped structure has a lounge area on this lower floor, a dining area
tucked away in the back, and a cooking area.

Lounge area, complete with daybed (spare mattress on pallets), an old papasan chair
that we had in England, and a hammock chair. Honestly, a month ago this was filled
with nice cushions, candles and hanging plants!

Dining area. Obviously ignore the cider press. Rob seems to be under the impression that,
having built this lovely summer kitchen, he can now use it as a shed.

Cooking area: pizza oven in the centre, woodburner to the right, and a black barrel barbecue to the left.

I mean, I could have at least dusted before taking this picture. You feel me?

Pizza oven, 2.5 years later. I did at least pick off the snail that was making its way
across the door before taking this picture. #winning #LifestyleGuru

Nope. There's the snail on the door. And I don't even want to know what Pepper
the cat is sniffing at. #winning #LifestyleGuru

The summer kitchen is still not *quite* finished. We need to enclose the bit above the pizza oven and barbecue somehow, in a way that blocks out the unsightly view behind but lets smoke filter out (and costs us almost no money). We still haven’t worked out the best solution yet, but we’ll get there. And we’re still undecided on whether to point all the stone work – part of me thinks it’ll look so nice and neat while the other part thinks ‘fucking hell, that’ll take forever’.

But, overall, we’re thrilled with it. And it really didn’t cost us that much money. The new roofing tiles were probably the biggest outlay at about 600 leva. Wood (some replacement big beams and timber for the seating/table) cost us around 400 leva. The bricks for the outer wall were probably 200 leva, if that. Then we spent 300 leva on the outdoor woodburner, which has been so useful this summer and well worth the money. That’s it. The rest of the materials came from the tumbledown barn (old oak beams and stone), the garden (clay and stone for the pizza oven) and generous Bulgarians (the barrel for the barbecue was from our neighbour, and a delivery driver gave us the pallets for the daybed).

Oh, and it cost hours and hours and hours of Rob’s hard labour – two years, to be precise, fitting it in around other jobs. I asked him just now whether, if he could go back in time, he’d do it all again. He said yes, but in a slow, slightly scared way. Let’s just say he’s looking forward to not building anything for a while…