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Back You are here: Home Property Building and Renovating Use What's To Hand

Use What's To Hand

Hidden treasures that add character. Architectural salvage is a term, which loosely describes the use of older building materials for the restoration of a property. In Britain alone, there are hundreds of these salvage businesses, which offer something different from a bygone age and they breathe a second life into items we might never have given a second glace.

Bulgaria’s property scene is developing at an impressive pace and its not just the new build developments that are proving popular with expat buyers. In fact, many interested homemakers will have often seen many tumbledown rural homes in need of renovation first.

 

It is these charming Bulgarian renovation projects that are back in vogue as more people look for a rural retreat with character and depth – something, which is often lacking in modern properties.

 

There are many ways of tackling a renovation project, ranging from doing it all yourself, to using a reputable builder to complete the work to your specifications.

In previous articles on Quest Bulgaria we have given you the lowdown on the pitfalls and advantages of renovating a property along with helpful hints for things to look out for when tackling structural issues.

 

 

 

This time, we help you put the final touches to your renovation by reclaiming some of the original architectural features you might have overlooked when you first purchased the property. These finishing touches are a cost-effective way to reinstate the heritage of the building and give it back the character you fell in love with in the first place.

Access all areas

Before allowing building teams to enter your property to smash down walls and rip out windows, spend a couple of weeks salvaging some of the natural features that may lie undiscovered in your new house and garden. Gather all pieces of wood, metal, tiles and stone into separate piles and store them in places where they won’t be in the way during the main renovation process. Make a note of existing quirky interior features, which you want to retain in order to ensure these are not destroyed in the renovation process.

Hidden treasures

Many Bulgarians leave behind little trinkets and pieces of furniture, which have outlived their usefulness. On first entering your new property, it is wise to look beyond the mess and sort out all of the objects that have been left behind.

 

Some of the furniture may be worthy of restoration and will add a sense originality to your home. Local craftsmen may be able to take on the project or you may decide to tackle it yourself with plenty of paint stripper and elbow grease.

Old pots can often be used for garden plants and add colour and originality to your garden design. Likewise, old sinks may make useful garden planters and old black and white photos telling of former occupants can be mounted and framed to tell the story of you home’s colourful past.

 

Retain natural flooring

If your home has wooden floorboards or terracotta tiles then you can save money as well as add style to your project by keeping these features and simply smartening them up. Cracked and damaged tiles can be replaced, whilst old floorboards can be treated and polished. Wood flooring provides a naturally beautiful effect, which gives the house a warm feeling. It is also environmentally friendly and hypoallergenic. Additionally, wood floors can often resist wear and tear much better than other types of flooring, such as carpets. Natural wooden flooring adds value to a house and is easy to maintain - any spillages on wooden floors are easier to clean up compared to carpets.

Using exposed beams as features

Supporting beams in your house can be stripped and polished in the same way that floorboards can. Obviously you need to check the condition of your beams first. Banging three-inch nails into them with a hammer can do this quite easily.

If the nail won't go in or only with difficulty, it is likely that the wood is fine. If the nail goes in easily, there is likelihood that the beam needs replacing. Naturally, your builder should advise you which beams are safe to expose and use and which need to be replaced.

Even if you have to renew some of the weaker beams, try and keep the wood, any salvageable pieces could be used for making some rustic shelving in your home at a later date. This ensures that the wood is in keeping with the rest of your property.

For wooden doors and gates seek out original handles to add authenticity.

 

 


Check out the garden

When you purchased your restoration project, the garden was no doubt a mass of overgrown weeds and rubbish and when builders move in it will become a dumping ground for their waste. Before your builders reclaim your garden for their workspace, check underneath the weeds and rubble, you may find you have the basics for a beautiful cottage garden.

 

The previous Bulgarian owner will undoubtedly have been a keen gardener and often you will find grape vines lurk untended on the ground in need of a little support, love and care. Remember, old plants and trees have taken many years of nurturing to reach their size and it would take many years or huge amounts of money to recreate what you might already have.

If you want to salvage any established plants or trees, make a note and instruct your builder to take care. The trees in the garden may be fruit bearing and there may be lots of large rocks lying under the overgrown grass.

These old rocks can be used to build a rockery, mend a wall or create a barbeque. Old garden seats can be restored to provide cosy places in the shade. Wooden wheelbarrows and old oak tubs can make great focal points especially when filled with colourful flowers.

Windows and doors

They say that: ‘windows are the eyes of your home’, so why rip out what can be restored?

New window units often lack the character of the originals and it is often more cost effective to update original windows than install new ones. Whilst in some instances you will need to replace the windows and doors in your renovation project, there will be plenty of instances where you do not. If your window frames are solid, it is possible to keep their traditional style and have the panes double-glazed. You may need to strip your window frames and gates of layers of paint or give them a good sanding down in order provide smooth finish for new coats of paint.

Keep it simple – inside and out

One of the best pieces of architectural salvage I have ever seen is an impressive pair of French antique style gates, attached to an old wire fence leading to a dilapidated shack. The gates were in very good condition and just needed a light sanding and repainting. Many properties are also surrounded by ramshackle stone walls, but rather than tear them down in favour of concrete shuttering or other modern methods, a little time and skill can restore the wall back to its former glory in-keeping with the overall style of the house. It is easy to seek a modern alternative to old walls and gates, but its more important to create harmony and balance both inside and out.

 

A Bulgarian restoration project is a little like a jigsaw puzzle that has come apart. All the parts are there if you are prepared to look hard enough, put in a little bit of time to restore them and bring your home back to its former glory.

What’s more, those who chose the easy route of an all-new build, which will not have the character- or the history - of your labour or love, will look upon your newly renovated property enviably.

For restoration properties see Quest Bulgaria's Bargain Property Sales.