We’ve been living in our new home now for about a month and we are loving it! Some days we do miss the adventures and excitement of new experiences of travelling full time in the motorhome but right now, this is where we need to be. As I’m sure you know, the number of covid cases has been dramatically increasing in many places, including here in Portugal, which has led to renewed lockdown restrictions. For a couple of weeks now we have been advised to stay home whenever possible and are not allowed to travel between municipalities. Shops are only open for the sale of essential goods (groceries etc) and all bars and restaurants are closed except for contactless takeaway services. All great reasons for us to be very thankful that we were able to find our new home.
We left the motorhome site in Tavira & said goodbye to our friends (Midlife Migration & The Travelling Pilchards) on the 28th December to come and live at our new home. To begin with we were still living in our motorhome fulltime (which we can conveniently park right outside our new static) whilst Callum worked online and I set about clearing, planning and redecorating. Our home here in Cabanas de Tavira is made up of a static home (2 small bedrooms, a lounge area, a toilet room and a washroom with basin & shower) in addition to that space we have a fully covered awning that runs nearly the full length of the static and outside there is a partially decked, part gravel area. It adds up to lots of space compared to what we have been used to in the motorhome; room for Callum to have a separate office/work area, space outside to relax & entertain but still a nice, small home.
My first job was to sort through and clear all the belongings that the previous owners had left… and there were A LOT! It seems to be traditional that homes are sold furnished here in Portugal and as this was a holiday home for the previous owners they already had everything they needed at their main home. That meant a good few days work to sort it all and decide what we would keep but it also meant that there was a lot that we didn’t need to buy (a kettle, dining table, bed, fridge freezer, curtains and maybe even a sofa, but more about that later). I found a charity shop to take what we didn’t need and also to sell us a couple of beautiful vintage looking dressers and some dining chairs.
I love to cook so having a kitchen with reasonable worktop space was a big priority for me, especially after struggling with the cramped kitchen in the motorhome. When we bought the property the kitchen area was inside the main static room but it was small and cramped, with very little counter space, the walkway to the bathroom was right past the kitchen space and just wasn’t going to work for us. I wanted to move the kitchen into the awning so we had more room, could fit in a dining table and chairs and in the summer, open up the sides of the awning to have an inside/outside eating & entertaining space. The kitchen cupboard doors were the first to go, followed by the units. With them removed the static was already looking more spacious. After a bit of imagination, planning and lots of measuring I found that the kitchen units could be cut down & reused in the awning. That was a huge win, both for our budget and for sustainability. The unit & worktop section with the hob was cut off from the rest of the kitchen to be repurposed as a stand alone unit which would house the current gas hob & a new electric oven. Next to it (just) fits the fridge freezer. The rest of the kitchen would sit opposite it, in the awning, housing the kitchen sink, drainer and cupboards and would look out over the garden/decking. The big storage area that sits above the lower garden shed would be the new pantry. I was probably a little too excited about having a pantry!
A successful trip to IKEA, our local hardware store Leroy Merlin and the charity shop gave me everything I needed for the transformation. After sanding back the doors I sprayed the cupboard doors, units and dining chairs all in a dark grey, sealing with a clear coat. The chairs had new seat ads from IKEA, the pantry storage was a mix of shelves & storage that was already here but repurposed plus 3 IKEA storage trolleys. Staff on site came to disconnect, move and reconnect the water pipes and gas from the static to the awning. A dining table that had been used in the outside kitchen was brought into the awning & made a lovely eating area with the refurbished dining chairs and the ‘piece de resistance’ is the beautiful green, vintage dresser that now sits at the entrance of the awning holding our crockery, cutlery and glasses.
After using the kitchen for a couple of weeks I knew that it still didn’t work how I needed it to and I was going to need more worktop space. After watching van conversions for years I knew exactly what I wanted; folding worktops. I made ours using 2 x large IKEA Lämplig chopping boards & 4 x folding brackets, a total of about €35. They have made a huge difference to the kitchen and how I use it, giving me more room to chop, prep and plate up. You can find the video of our whole kitchen transformation here, on YouTube.
Subscribe to follow our tiny home renovation, with 5 more rooms & outside yet to transform!