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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Rio Apartment – the completion


The story of our apartment in Rio is a combination of success story and one of frustration and compromise.  From the final signing of the ownership papers to the completion of the remodeling work was 10 months. Over the years I have been lucky enough to be involved in maybe 20 remodeling projects, 4 of them places I would live, and only 1 in a foreign country where I didn’t know the language or how the system worked. And believe me when I say it works differently here from in the USA.  For example, the labor we hired lived in the apartment during the week and went home to Friburgo on weekends. He and his son would come into Rio by bus every Monday morning, arriving late morning and start to work. It is against our condominium rules to begin working (making noise) before 8am and you have to quit by 5pm. and, of course, he had to quit early on Fridays to make his way home for the weekend. There is no surprise then that this job took a good 6 months longer than it would in the USA. That all said he and his son did a great job.

Cozinha & Copa (18)

This work included tearing out old ceramic walls and floors by sledge hammer, breaking plaster to put in new electric, telephone and internet wires, changing out plumbing and gas pipes, and opening some walls and moving door openings to make the rooms more efficient. Then it had to be put all back together.

Camillo and I had to stay a step ahead of the labor buying floor tiles, wall tiles, water heaters, lighting fixtures, A/C units, doors, kitchen cabinets – the list seemed to go on and on. This isn’t like you can go to one big supper store like Lowes – we took taxis to the Barra, buses and taxis downtown, to Copacabana all the while traveling back and forth from Friburgo and living in hotels.

I know some of the problem with finding all that we needed centered around wanting a certain level of quality, a certain modern look but it was still about 10 months of searching and deciding – Miracle of all miracles was that we got it done and we stayed married. (and I stayed here)

By the end of November 2003, we had moved me to Brasil, received my permanent residence card, gotten our limited household goods out of customs (a major feat in itself), had bought a bed and a refrigerator for the apartment, determined all the construction detail and finally kicked the workers out so we could start to move in. After nearly one long grueling year we needed to begin to furnish this apartment.


Except for a cedar chest in the main bedroom, an antique umbrella stand in the small hall leading to the kitchen and a few paintings by our Columbian friend Silvia Souza, all the furniture are things we managed to find in Rio.
We bought on piece at a time, never sure how the pieces would fit into the small space.
We had the office spaces, the cloths closet, platform bed and a credenza in the sala (living room) built by a wood worker in Friburgo. Not all at once mind you but as we saw things we liked but couldn’t afford we
would say why not have it made.   We saved 1000s doing this and were happier with the result.




Finally we have added a piece of art here and there. One from Salvador, Bahia that we bought for ourselves at Christmas, a big splash of blue, greens and yellow for over the credenza and smaller paintings and clay figures that we liked, and we are finally finished. A total of five years from start to finish.
Now whether in Nova Friburgo or in Rio we are absolutely at home.



  1. Wow - such an experience and it all looks so wonderful now.

  2. Girl, you are just too good. Will you come and decorate my house? Maybe I can get video it and you can start your own TV show. We can call it GingerV on TV.

  3. Congratulations - your "new" apartment looks beautiful! Remodeling can be fun - until you try to do it on time and under budget in Brazil!

    Luiz and I know how hard it can be to find quality furniture to fit in a smaller apartment. Everything out there seems to be made for hotel lobbies!

    Don't you just love the parque floor!? Real old-style Rio.

    Now relax and enjoy.

  4. Patty thanks for your kind words - but - we would have to call it the GingerV and Camillo show.

  5. Thank you for the website. I am more educated, now. I added it to my favorites to search more thoroughly later.
    I would like to send you a little, humorous token, if I can get a mailing address from you.
    Thanks again for the insight.

  6. You've made your place so warm and inviting darling GingerV. I love that oil painting over the credenza and that clay bust is calling my name.......
    Decorating at it's finest my friend :)
    (does hot-buns run from room to room au natural in the apartment as well??? LOL)

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  7. Reggie Girl - thanks for the visit. the painting over the credenza is my favorite - the clay is a typical Brazilian style that have good quality and better quality. I liked this one because she is proud...
    shshhhhh! don't tell the world he is free and open.... I will have women all over the place chasing him.... and the apartment is too small for him to run in - he walks sedately.

  8. It took a while but, oh my, are the results worth the wait!

    That's one gorgeous apartment!


  9. Looks spectacular.

    And well done on wading through the hurdles. You should have made a movie, like Under the Tuscan Sun.

  10. sounds like quite an adventure! looks like the apartment was worth waiting for. it looks marvelous.

  11. Oh how exciting to have a home and an apartment and time to spend at each. You did a splendid job with the rework and I just love escaping to Brazil through your eyes each time I visit your blog.
    Happy Twirls

  12. Wow! How beautiful the story is? The images of the post are also great. I am inspired by your decoration. I can see here all of the needful things are available in there. Thank you for your helpful post.

    Wonderful Rio Apartments

  13. Wow you have given us good and interesting information.

    Fire Pit