It’s been more than a year since renovation of apartment and studio in Ljubljana started and now both are finished with the small exception of two bathrooms. Bathrooms will wait until there is enough saved to cover local limestone tiles and custom made furniture from wood, fitted to be functional for ceramic studio as well.
We weren’t planning to renovate studio so soon after the apartment. So let me tell you a story.
We were driving to a Nils Frahm concert last year with my mother and father, when my mother accidentally told me, that my father almost signed contract to sell his land with small forest. I knew this forest was scheduled to sell due to new highway plans, running partially through one part of forest. So it wasn’t a question of selling, but a question of keeping the wood. I was always saying this wood will one day be a part of my house. But my father did not want anything to do with wood, and he wasn’t hearing me or taking me seriously all the multiple times in past I said that out loud. He would do, like all the owners of neighbouring land and forest would; just sign the contract without negotiating, getting few thousand euros, and be done with it.
I started screaming in the car on the way to concert (which was a gift for his birthday – one of 10 cultural events I took him to see). NOOO, I want to keep the wood! He asked: ‘What will you do with all this wood?’ ‘Build house and furniture from it.’ Concert was super nice. But for the next few weeks I kept getting the same question over and over, what would I use this wood for. My answer would be the same, every time. After few weeks I got e-mail from him, saying he changed the contract and now he would only sell his land, without forest on it, and from now on I have about 8 months to cut, transport and prepare trees as I wish.
This is how for the whole summer last year, I was discussing, reading articles, having meetings with different people, like foresters, sawmills, carpenters, giving me a sense of what have I gotten myself into. Luckily we had a really good carpenter working on my apartment renovation, so I could just ask him all the stupid questions about logging. I also had a nice logger/forester working at local forest management company, who said no, you cannot keep spruce logs for ten years, they decay in one.
We cut all the trees. Looking at the fallen forest was like looking at the graveyard of trees. We chose 2 trucks of 1. class spruce trees, which we would store until we renovate studio, and most of the oak trees, which can and are needed to be aged and dried for few years. These went straight to sawmill to be sawn, rest were loaded straight to trucks and sold to Austria. Sadly Slovenia does not have means to process all the wood it grows, so most of it get shipped to neighbouring countries, where they process it and some transport it back to Slovenia for furniture industry. Completely unsustainable.
Oak planks are now slowly drying at my father’s vineyard. Amount of spruce wood was calculated for my studio renovation and was suppose to dry for at least a year at our carpenter’s house, by the sea, where climate is drier and warmer and so safer to dry soft wood.
But just few months later, he called me being super concerned about fungi/mould slowly showing on planks. So he suggested we start this spring! So we did. Our architect Sanja Premrn drew some designs, and the project started shortly after finish of apartment renovation. Style: natural, sustainable.
Studio is situated in a 140 year old house, where many previous owners renovated partially or completely walls, floors, ceiling, electricity and windows in a way that was not respectful to the building or history of the house. When we took down drywall ceiling there was clearly too much damage done to the original lime layer, so we could not keep it. It was newer being taken care of, just decaying and being damaged by all the instant fix solutions. We contacted Gnezdo, center for sustainable building, where we got some advice for the walls and ceiling. We decided to strip everything down, and put a new layer of lime plaster on walls, and clay plaster on ceiling. Walls were then painted with layer of clay paint. So basically what we did is fixed the shell in a very respectful way and beside that also surrounded ourselves with clay. This material is considered to be one of the best materials for a healthy inner climate.
Carpenter used most of our spruce wood, adding 20% of additional spruce, locally sourced, for floors. On June 1 studio was finished. Welcome to visit us!