An honest story about mistakes and ingenious solutions for budget repairs.
If you think that it is impossible to make a dream home out of a dilapidated house, our heroine Olga @kuren_kazachiy proved the opposite: together with her husband, they transformed the old building beyond recognition – they added vintage furniture, preserved the history of the house, introduced modern details into it and came up with many ideas that you can take note.
Kuren is the traditional home of the Cossacks. They could be two-story or one-story; usually the houses were built on a high foundation. The kuren encircles the balcony – a baluster. Often the rooms inside are small and connected to each other – it’s easy to walk around the whole house in a circle. The kuren had two entrances and exits to make it possible to quickly escape in the event of an unexpected enemy attack.
What parameters did you focus on when choosing a house?
Three years ago, my husband and I moved from St. Petersburg to Krasnodar. On this fertile sunny land we wanted to buy a house as a summer cottage. We were looking for something non-standard – with history, with a twist. And then a year and a half ago we found a house in Adygea, an hour’s drive from Maykop. The main selection criteria were bright space, many windows and high ceilings.
In what condition did you purchase the house?
When we first saw the house, it looked very unsightly – broken windows, shabby shutters, rusty railings, a rickety extension and a new fence made of bright blue corrugated board. In the yard there are collapsed chicken coops and an old barn. But this old house had potential.
Details about the site and the building itself
The building is strong, brick, built in 1975 – without cracks or distortions. There are two floors – an upper residential floor of 58 m² and a ground floor of the same area. The total area of the house is 108 m². The basement is completely filled with concrete, 30 acres of land, grapes, fruit trees, walnuts.
And the main highlight is that the house was built using Cossack kuren technology, preserving all the elements – a balcony around the entire perimeter, shutters, wooden windows and paneled doors, carved gutters.
What was the inside of the house like?
Everything inside looked as sad as the outside – yellowish walls, peeling plaster, cracked ceiling, bright blue windows and doors, red-brown floor, two burner stoves, old wiring. But even in this state the house was bright, with good energy.
There are 10 (!) windows around the perimeter. Ceiling height is 3 meters. All the carpentry has been preserved (not in perfect condition, but still), the floor is strong and level. There was a lot of renovation ahead…
What difficulties did you encounter during the renovation?
We did most of the work ourselves. Needless to say, each stage of the work involved some kind of adventure – sometimes the workers were surprised, sometimes the dimensions weren’t right, sometimes the deadlines were disappointing.
Details about the decor and the interior itself
Of course, the most interesting thing in the house is not even the renovation, but the stage of decorating and furnishing the interior. We wanted to create a bright, spacious room with interesting accents that would create the mood and preserve the atmosphere and history of the Cossack kuren.
In our case, such accents were old stoves, a red refrigerator, vintage chandeliers, antique brass door handles, an interesting kitchen with a countertop made of solid elm, paintings that I painted specifically for our interior, an antique Stalinist sofa and other vintage items that we found at flea markets and on Avito.
What’s special about furniture
We tried to adapt modern things to our interior. Ordinary furniture made of laminated chipboard – a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a desk – was painted by hand, placed on high legs and the handles were replaced.
Antique things were restored, washed and also painted – a Stalinist sofa (was found in one of the old houses for sale through an ad on Avito – they went 400 km specially for it), Viennese chairs were taken along with the sofa from the same old house. Chandeliers were bought on Avito. We bought door handles and a table lamp at a flea market.
What mistakes were made during the repair?
During the renovation, of course, a number of mistakes were made. For example, builders who removed old plaster and re-plastered walls used metal beacons and gypsum plaster. The lighthouses caused rust on the walls, and the gypsum plaster in the bathroom had to be knocked down by other competent builders, since this material cannot be used at all in wet rooms.
Previously, the floor in the house was painted with old red-brown oil paint. We decided that we would scrape down to wood. My husband even got hold of two sanding machines at once. But scraping turned out to be a very complex process, accessible only to professionals.
Nothing worked out with it, we sold the PShM, and decided to cover the floor with another paint right on top of the old oil enamel. It turned out even better than expected. The paint was used from Leroy Merlin (RUB 1,275 for 1.9 kg). It fit perfectly and dried quickly.
About kitchen renovation
This is a regular modular kitchen with black matte facades. But the decoration of the kitchen was a massive countertop made of elm slab.
We found the slab on the Internet and drove 300 km to get it near Rostov. Then my husband sanded it himself, sawed it, installed it in the kitchen, and coated it with special oil. Now this is the highlight of our kitchen-dining room. A small piece of slab went under the bathroom sink.
The kitchen is also decorated with gilded brass handles (Leroy Merlin – 150 RUR/piece) and a brass faucet. It’s simple, but it turned out to be very effective.
About bathroom renovation
It turned out to be the most time-consuming and labor-intensive. There were many technical questions, since previously there was no provision for a bathroom in the house at all – this was customary in the villages. We converted one of the living rooms into a bathroom. Accordingly, communications were brought into the house – water and sewer pipes.
They changed the floor – we had to remove the old boards, underneath there were beams and 30 centimeters of empty space. All this had to be covered with expanded clay and covered with a screed under the heated floor.
Previously, this living room was equipped with two nozzle stoves. We removed the nozzles: the stoves are now purely decorative – the rusty stove doors were covered with brass-like paint, and the stoves themselves were covered with tiles to look like tiles. The effect was visually interesting.
Plans for further home improvement
In the house we try to combine old and new to make it comfortable, but at the same time preserve the soul and atmosphere that things with history give. Much has already been done, but much remains to be done. The plans are to build a new veranda-living room instead of the old extension, make a main entrance and an elegant porch. There is also a lot of work to be done in the yard. We like the process, and most importantly, the result.