After sorting out the bedrooms and the balcony, the lodge was lacking one thing, a good dining space. What we had definitely had its positives, a round table with bench seats either side that comfortably fit 8 people. The cosiness of it meant the table's occupants got to know each other much quicker over their morning meals each day.
The problem was that the lodge sleeps 10 people and if everyone came down to breakfast at the same time things were a bit of a squeeze to say the least. This dining area was also between the lounge and the kitchen, right through the main walkway of the house. Therefore being a space with lots of interruption and not really the ideal place where you could sit for hours having great conversations over glasses of wine and delicious food. To us the dining table is the heart of the house, where memories are made, stories are told and at the risk of sounding cheesy, a place where strangers become friends. So many great things come out of amazing evenings around a table and that’s what we wanted to achieve at our lodge.
In front of the lodge we had a porch with a wooden decking split into two levels. It’s always been a seating area but due to being underneath the balcony and north facing the lack of sunshine meant it rarely got any use. It was quite a dead space to be honest and too much of a big space to go to waste; so the new dining room plan came into play…
Initial Porch (when we moved in)
The plan was to enclose this outside area by installing big panes of glass in between the pillars facing the road, building two new pillars and building a half wall connecting the outer wall to the main building with a big sliding window on top. The wall beneath the window on the face of the building (I say window but there wasn’t an actual window just air with permanently closed wooden shutters to keep the draft out) needed knocking through which would make an open doorway into the newly boxed off space.
First port of call was to reinforce the walls upon which the glass panes were to be attached and one of the support beams in the ceiling. Then the gaps between the mini pillars in the low wall had to be filled in and turned into a solid wall and the half wall had to be built. We got the professionals in for those bits…
As I mentioned before the wooden decking was divided into two levels, which of course would be no good for a dining room. No one wants to sit at a table on a slope! This is where Luis’ practicality comes in. His challenge was to raise the lower level to be the same height as the other floor section, which meant taking up the decking, adding two rows of big wooden beams to act as support batons and then relaying the decking back on top.
We wanted a big 10 seater table, breakfast bar and three heavy duty shelves for our envisioned tea and coffee station. The thing was we had such specific measurements that they had to be custom made, so we went to a carpentry shop near Mafra that we had always wanted to stop at and now we had a reason to. As soon as we explained what we wanted we were led into their workshop, a woodworkers dream with a brilliant array of different types of wood in all shapes and sizes(and it smelt AMAZING). We were looking for a long plank that still had it’s natural edge, so you could see the knots of its lost branches and the natural curves of the trunk. This was to be the breakfast bar and the shelves had to fit the same requirements. After hand selecting our pieces we then gave them our dining table measurements and were told everything would be ready within a couple of weeks.
We finished the rest of the work by sanding and varnishing them ourselves, keep reading to see how they turned out…
The day finally came, after waiting 8 weeks with a delay of 3, that the window people (no idea what their professional name is?) arrived to install the beautiful panes of glass that would at last make our weird outdoor semi open area a whole. Although we have to admit we thoroughly enjoyed the perplexed looks it received from all of the locals and passers by, there was definitely a buzz in our small seaside village about “what’s going on at the surf lodge?”.
Next on the jobs list was paint the interior walls, varnish the table and shelves and lay the new floor. The table is VERY heavy (the lady who owns the carpenters said it’s the kind of table that will last forever and makes a good solid dance floor should anyone get on top of it) and it took 4 strong men to get it into the room. The only way for it to actually get into the room was through the new sliding window as the front door is too narrow, which was quite a mission but they managed it without any casualties.
Now it was time to knock through the wall…a task that we were both looking forward to and dreading. The reason for the latter was because we weren’t sure exactly what the wall was made of and how easy it was going to be, we also had to worry about keeping it structurally sound. As it was a window it had a very solid frame of stone, which we had to keep the sides of to maintain the support to the ceiling. Cutting through it was going to be the tricky part.
No you are not mistaken, they are massive stones inside the wall, obviously it was built before the invention of bricks. Pretty cool but a nightmare to knock through, let’s just say the big bad wolf would have had a hard time blowing this house down.
✨ Ta Da! ✨
Now to clean up and lay the floor. Easier said than done. As the room wasn’t the perfect length to match the amount of floorboards we had to measure each individual board when we got to the last section and cut it to size. The wall that we were measuring to also wasn’t 100% straight and so each plank had to be a different length.
We were nearly there. There were just the shelves to attach to the wall (on gigantic hinges that the carpenters also made for us) and the breakfast bar to assemble.
Finally, after waiting so long to start the project and all the hard work we put into it, the dining room was a functioning part of the lodge. It was still missing that extra 10% of details that would make it completely finished but we were bloody happy with what we and Carlos and his team had created. I’ve mentioned Carlos in a previous post but without his expert help in organising the building work and Domingos’ skill in executing it none of this would have been possible.