In April of 2008 we visited Hvar for a week, our first time on the island. We looked at some properties, with a view to having a holiday/retirement home here. This enormous stone building was tucked away at the end of a narrow street, hemmed in by neighbouring houses and to be honest we weren’t greatly impressed. It clearly needed a lot of work, having been empty for several years – the floors were creaky and sagged ominously, rooms were small, pokey and inconvenient, there’d been a fire in the kitchen, the stairs were rickety, the courtyard was overgrown and yet – three months later we decided it was the perfect place for us!

The building project started in January 2009 and took the best part of 18 months. Decorating and other finishing touches are ongoing!

The view from the street shows the cleaned stonework, with its new, much lighter pointing. Our new shutters are made of larch with a natural finish.

On the more exposed south side, the house needs extra protection from the elements. The old rendering was replaced by a clear waterproof coating that allows us to show off the beautiful stonework here, and on the east side. The stone steps up to the front door have two stylish arches – below stairs is a rediscovered original feature, while above the porch to the front door is new. The steps also have a stylish new wrought-iron handrail, designed for us by a craftsman in Split.

The door into the annexe was returned to its original width, and the ugly concrete beam replaced with lovely Brač stone, same as the rest of the house. Our new double doors have glass panels to provide more light inside, and a brand new window has been knocked through.

As this is a traditional Dalmatian farmhouse, the living quarters are one floor up. Ours was originally divided into four rooms, one of which was the pink bedroom on the left. The renovation process saw the inside of the house completely gutted from the ground floor up. The forest of scaffolding poles held up the new concrete floor above as it set. And now we have our living room in that corner!

The kitchen was redesigned with new walls and windows installed, and finally in 2012 we have a bright modern kitchen that we love to cook in! Every window, door and shutter in the house was individually sized and so replacements had to be built specially for us by carpenter Ante Beros in Zastrazisce. His work is so pleasing and right for these old stone houses.

The original rickety wooden staircase inside the house has been replaced by a set of solid concrete steps, finished off with beautiful oak treads and a nifty wooden handrail.

On the upper level were 3 small bedrooms with a large hallway you could have held a dance in. Our new layout is designed to make much better use of the space.

The new dividing walls created 2 double bedrooms, each with their own ensuite bathroom, which is perfect for when we have guests.

The bedroom floor has a door out on to the flat roof of the annexe. Note the washing line stretched across in the original picture, and bear in mind this is two floors up! The only mark of the edge was that small bollard on the corner. The terrace, now paved and walled is our favourite place to watch the sunset, and it has stunning views of the Milky Way at night.

Taking on such a large renovation project at a distance was challenging, not to say exhausting. The final result owes so much to our architect, Miki Salamunić of Faros projekt in Jelsa, our building contractor Kosta Marijan of Koling d.o.o. in Kaštel Sućurac, and the traditional skills of the local craftsmen. It’s a joy to see such quality workmanship! Thanks also to Mr Total Hvar himself, Paul Bradbury who sold us the idea of island life, along with this large heap of stone!

More pictures of the house on this page