What do I do for a living?

I write articles about houses that are re-born and describe the work that goes into creating a designer object. This is why I have always wanted to live in a house that tells my own personal story without the need for explanations, but instead relying on the objects themselves to recount the details with a visual immediacy. The chance to re-structure my grandfather's old workshop was one that I couldn't pass up, because it holds so many childhood memories. So when he told me he was giving it to me, I hoped and prayed that he would not take the signs, tools and all the old metal objects that littered the workshop, because I wanted them to become an integral part of my new house.

Here, in what is now the kitchen, there once stood his workbench with all his old tools hanging on the walls.

I can still remember...

when my grandfather used to let me open the clamp of the welder electrodes, saying "Come on, Jack, close the arms of the pincer, it all depends on you". He was right, it always depends on us and on the effort we put into doing something. But transforming a workshop into an apartment in which to live requires a lot of effort, as well as skilled technicians for the various circuits. Luckily, my grandfather taught me to fix things and gave me my practical skills, otherwise all I would be able to do would be to write using a computer keyboard. They seem to have realized this in the newsroom, because whenever something needs fixing, they get me to do it, telling me not to worry too much about work, because our interior design magazine is published monthly, so there's plenty of time to finish our articles.

So, from words to iron, from sheets of A4 to sheets of metal: for me, this is fascinating, because it helps me relax, takes my mind off things, but mostly because it allows me to let my imagination run free.

Everybody should have a hobby or a pastime that allows them to break the routine of work, one that can give them a new perspective on life and relax the mind.

I collect old things which I like to use at home.

I collect old things which I like to use at home. I have an orange-coloured bench which I have almost finished sanding. When I've painted it, I want to put it on the terrace outside the kitchen, so I can pass the summer evenings sitting outside, sipping my favourite drink. Yes, I know that the old bench doesn't match the rest of the house, but that's what I like about it. It's a piece that stands out from the rest, different in colour, shape and purpose, and it tells a story just by being there.

There were so many old things
in the workshop that I really wanted to restore..

I know that there is lots of clutter, but there were so many old things in the workshop that I really wanted to restore. As soon as I finish fixing up the house, I'm going to invite my grandfather to dinner, just to see his face when he sees it all! I hope he won't make the same face my mother made when she saw the bicycle hanging up in the hall. This is something that she just can't comprehend, because something with two wheels belongs in a garage. But mine is a racing-bike, really light and compact. I bought it eleven years ago with the money I saved from a summer job. I saw it as a sparkling jewel in a specialist bicycle shop; the next morning, when I took it to training for the first time, I felt like one of those professional cyclists who ride the Tour de France!

For a short time, I had actually considered becoming a professional cyclist, because I had won several races. But winning a few races is not nearly enough, so cycling simply became a lifestyle for me. These days, my bike is a faithful companion during my daily travels, so I have made a special place for it in my home, using a series of towing hooks that I found among my grandfather's old stuff. I welded these to some old metal panels which used to be partition walls. I know that I use the welder like a hot-melt pistol, but the result was perfect and, more to the point, space-saving.

If you could cook as well as you use a welder, you would be a master chef

My mother always says "If you could cook as well as you use a welder, you would be a master chef". But my omelette is a gourmet masterpiece - at least, that's what my friends tell me. While cooking it, I dazzle them by flipping it expertly in the pan. Maybe it's because I have found the perfect blend of ingredients, or maybe it's for my skill in flipping it, but I've found that when something is done with passion, it generally turns out fine. I just hope my grandfather likes eggs, because the only things I get delivered are sushi and kebabs.

You can't be an expert in cooking everything, can you? Each of us has a special dish, like my friend Francesca, who only invites me to dinner when she has bought fresh fish, and knows that she can prepare a pasta dish that's to die for. I'm not sure whether she invites me because she likes me, or whether it's because, while she's cooking dinner, she always gets me to fix something that has broken. But I'm always happy to accept the deal, although the amount of effort needed to fix the lights in the bedroom was probably worth at least two dinners.

What you love to do is always a part of you, wherever you are. And, talking about lights, I must remember to check the outside light, otherwise I can't pass the time with Lilly.

Who's Lilly?

That's my old bench. My grandfather used to give a name to all the objects he repaired or 'resuscitated', and "Lilly" seemed to be the perfect name for my "relaxation" place.

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