Restoring a Damp House in Sicily, Part 16

November 30, 2011

I don’t know about your Big Dream, but mine was born in a flash when I laid eyes on Europe as a teen. I gotta move here, I thought.

A decade or two passed. There was always some excuse: too far, too expensive, too late, too early, too impractical, too scary, too risky, too crazy. Too, too, too. There was marriage along the way, and it was too hard to convince my husband. The dream remained nothing more than that. A fantasy moldering in a dark corner of my mind. Another decade passed: 9-11, my mother’s death, more gray hair.

You try hard to push it away. To pretend a dream is just not that important.

Then came the day “when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anais Nin)

But it was a slow flowering; there were long delays and growing pains. That frequent feeling of What in hell’s name am I doing? What don’t I just go back to where I belong? 

I was looking through photos the other day and found this. It caused a small feeling of horror.

My kitchen 2009-2010:

Renovating a House in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

But I’ve learned: it is so worth letting yourself bloom.

There will be tears, fears, the gnashing of teeth. That’s inevitable.

Push through it and grow.

What a gift to yourself.

What are you waiting for?


My kitchen 2011

Restored House in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

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39 comments to Restoring a Damp House in Sicily, Part 16

  • extremely inspiring, your kitchen is gorgeous and you are living your dream! may we all learn from your example!!!!

  • Jann, what a lovely post! And that kitchen? Mamma mia! I love, love it! My dream is to retire to the Tuscan region; to a little free-standing villa that will be painted white and have olive groves. I will press my own olive oil and sip espresso as I take in the gorgeous countryside. Si, a girl can dream! Thank for this inspiring post which served as the perfect companion to my morning coffee. 🙂

  • Lola Hodges

    Thank you…..a million thank yous. Your fulfillment of a dream is amazing. Of course we live vicariously through your pictures and the wonderful prose you bring to our lives. Love it all……Lola

  • vicki carol

    I read all the entries to your blog today and I am inspired to continue with my dream of living in Sicily, my Grandfather’s home country. I love the old stone everywhere. I feel the people who have walked those stairs and wonder how they did it. Your blog is my favorite thing to run away from stress. Thanks for taking it on for me.

    • Jann

      Oh, Vicki–nothing could be sweeter to hear than that I’ve inspired you to keep on with the dream. 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting.

  • Inspiring. Amazing, even. I would say that American pie optimism you referred to helped you through those parts of the process that were harder to digest. I think I’ve forgotten how to dream, or how to believe in dreams…perhaps it will come back to me. That kitchen is well-worth the gnashing of teeth that you endured. Bellissima!

    • Jann

      Ciao louciao. Thank you! I don’t think you’ve forgotten how to dream–your gorgeous dreamy blog is a testament to that!

  • John Schinina

    Ciao Jann, The first thought I had was brava, you have done a wonderful job, can’t wait to see the final touch of your home. Prior to my retirement, I had an Archtectural Furniture business, so I can appreciate your accomplishments.
    Once again, Brava

  • amy

    Can I just say: YOU GO GIRL!!!!

  • Pina Marra

    Lovely kitchen…unfortunately we sometimes can’t make our dreams come true…

    • Jann

      Maybe I’m just being Ms. American Pie-Optimist about this, Pina, but I think if the dream is super-strong (not just a vague wish or passing fancy) and you’re willing to struggle like crazy to achieve it, that you can often do the “impossible”…

  • cemal karahan

    The process to rebuild a damp house was long, troublesome and painful for you, I know that Jann and you managed it yourself with too little Italian and with your strong will and wish. You are the sample to show us that women are the ones to make the world more beautiful with just one small touch…! Congratulations….!

  • catherine billups

    wonderful kitchen.

  • sandee wheeler

    I love everything about your kitchen, but I especially love the floor and the tile baseboard surrounding it!!!

  • So wonderful to see this post. When I first discovered your site, I poured over the photographs, your perspective, and the many posts about restoring your home in Sicily. Fabulous. Love that you share with all of us.

  • Cathy

    Thanks Jann, I love before & afters! Love your kitchen, I can see the pretty little tiles along bottom of the walls and is that the antique coffee grinder someone gave you on the shelf I see? That sink is to die for… Those bowls are gorgeous too.. I’m in a supreme state of kitchen envy, can you tell? On top of all that, it looks clean & tidy!! Not like the 2 teenager-induced semi-organized disaster I face daily 🙂

    • Jann

      Glad you like the post. I wrote it 4 U!!! Yes, that antique coffee grinder was found in the trash by my garbage man, who gave it to me. Ha, ha about the “clean and tidy.” Do you think I didn’t have to clean before shooting???? Normally there are dishes piled in the sink and the table is awash in piles of papers; lacking a desk in the house, I work on the kitchen table :). The fact that you’re even “SEMI” organized with 2 teenagers is a miracle!

  • ~~~~~~~~Jann,
    you thrill me. you excite my senses.

    “””Then came the day “when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anais Nin)”””

    I adore Nin, & I’ve used this same quote several times!

    And I loooooooooooove your kitchen. I love how you observed the potential of what it could become… xX

  • Marie Clayton

    Ciao Jann, all the way from Valentine, NSW, Australia, I love this story and the pictures are devine….Your kitchen is beautiful. I can live my dream through your eyes, can’t I?

  • Nancy Hersch

    What a transformation. Absolutely gorgeous. My dream to live in Sicily also, but I’m sure it will remain a dream. Unless I win the lottery…lol

  • joe girolamo

    Jann, Your soooooo right. Since we purchased our Casa in Modica I feel my life’s dream is finally fulfilled. For anyone thinking or on the fence just do it. You will never look back. It truly is our home. So lucky! New friends and always new adventures.

  • Every time I look at your photos Jann, I know that I too want to live in Sicily for a while, or at least visit soon. Beautiful!!

  • Wow, I totally love this before and after kitchen. Anais Nin would too.

    • Jann

      🙂 Thanks Susan. Maybe Anais would prefer her little galley kitchen on that Paris houseboat? That was pretty romantic!

  • Oh my goodness, Jann…… Your words brought tears to my eyes. So true, so true. On my nightstand are 2 issues of Conde` Nast European Travel and Life from 1991 and 1992. (The Italian Issues) They have been with me in all my travels throughout the years. I would dig them out on occasion and read them cover to cover once again. Stirring the embers of that small fire in the back of my mind……. Now in just two weeks, I will be back, touching, smelling and breathing in, the sights and sounds of a little stone stable on the side of a terrace in a field of olives. 🙂 Thank you

    • Jann

      DIana–1991 to 2011–a mere 20 years to make your dream a reality! (It took me longer.)

      Viva donkeys and wine!!!!

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