Rebekka Hilmarsdóttir, an old school friend of mine is renovating the old hospital building with her husband: Örn Hermann Jónsson. I contacted her and asked her to tell me a little bit about this remarkable project!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves?
I am born and raised just outside of Patreksfjörður (a village in the west fjords of Iceland with about 650 inhabitants). I work as a lawyer and am a bit of a history geek so I take care of the photographs, the history and paperwork around the house plus I am a fine assistant to the main builder (my husband). I’m fine with a brush and the broom.
Örn, my husband, is also from the west fjords and he is a builder. For the past two years he has been employed at Calgary, Canada where he got great education and experience which has been great for this project. Together I believe we are a great team for this project, we love what we are doing and find this super exciting and fun!
What is this project you are doing?
We are renovating the old hospital at Patreksfjörður.
The house it built 1901 and it has been changed quite a lot since it got raised 114 years ago but maintenance has been limited.
Our main focus is to bring it as close to the original as we can. Take away modern features such as laminate wood, veneers and old rugs and let the old and the original really come into its own!
This spring we began to make the house more or less “liveable”, we set up two fine bedrooms and a working kitchen and bathroom. We wanted to be able to enjoy living there while we are working on this project!
In the past few months we have been restoring the floorboards in the middle floor. We mean to sandpaper them and oil and lacquer. We also got a grant from the house preservation fund to redo the old windows. The windows were removed 1965-1970 but we tend to put the original look back. Whereas this is a very costly project we will do one side of the house per year.
The first side will receive new windows now in October/November so we are renovating the house on both inside and outside.
This summer we also began working in the garden slightly, grooming the grass and making the surroundings look a bit better.
Why this project?
Well we have always dreamt of renovating our own house and in September last year we were travelling to Patreksfjörður to visit friends and family and decided to check out the houses that were for sale, you know, just for the fun of it.
I remember going into this house as a small girl and in the memory the stairs were huge! My friend lived in it and I remember I envied her of her gigantic bedroom with the great view overlooking the fjord. To me this house was like a castle!
This time it was somewhat smaller (or I had grown, perhaps that is the more likely explanation). I do however still love the stairs and they are a great ornament in the building.
Many things in the house are still original and that is something that fascinated us right away! We love the old times and vintage, original fittings are special to us so we decided to jump in the deep end!
What will the house be used for?
Well the idea is to make it a residence but it has been used as such since 1945. In the house we also have two apartments and possible we will rent those out, mainly to cover the costs but changes like these can be very costly! Plus we have a family and friends living at Patreksfjörður and I have my roots from the area so the idea is for us to use it when we are around!
How long do you anticipate this project taking?
We call this the marathon! The house is large, around 250 square meters and the projects are endless. We estimate we will have the house more or less done in about 5 years. All windows should have been changed by then and it should be fine on the inside also. We just take this day by day and intend to enjoy the project instead of going full speed ahead!
Why this building?
As I said I have roots in this area and that was the main focus for choosing Patreksfjörður.
I had also heard the house had been a hospital before and believed it probably had a great story. I didn’t realise how great that story was until after we had bought the house but it was always a part of this project to record all things we hear about it. Shortly after we bought it we decided to have a Facebook page where people could follow us and this project. It has been a great way to keep everything in order.
We have received great response from the village and held an open house this summer where people could come and check it out. That was a really fun event and we tend to do that again when we are a little more ahead!
We thank Rebekka greatly for sharing this with us and encourage you to follow this very exciting project here.
"We found this old kitchen-aid machine and fixed it up, what a beauty"!
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