This is the blog of Steve Burkett of Italy, Our Italy

Major Renovation

I recently completed a major renovation. 'At your home?', you ask. 'No', I say, 'it's another remodel in Venice.'

As you probably know by now, I don’t want to present today’s Venice to you, but one from several centuries ago. So...with tools in hand, I begin the renovation.


That's the subject of today's article...another Italian door transformation, but this one, a major renovation. See what I mean below.

Below is the original snapshot that I captured in Venice in 2012. As we find in many renovations, there was a lot that I didn't like when I saw this door, but I also saw some potential.

The original snapshot showing the renovation job ahead of me.

Here is what I didn't like about the scene as it appeared before me. I felt that the symmetry was ruined by the sliver of canal on the right. Does that drainpipe and bit of window on the left add to the architects vision? I don't think so. 

As you probably know by now, I don't want to present today's Venice to you, but one from several centuries ago. So, the six apartment ringers on the left and the one on the right need to go. With tools in hand, I begin the renovation.

The canal demolition was easy...with crop tool in hand, all I had to do was chip away a bit at the right side of the image. 

I removed the ringer at the right and then patched the hole that was left. Ditto the set of six ringers on the left...but it took a bit more plaster to complete that job.

That pesky drainpipe was a problem. As was the short half pillar. And then there is that bit of wall with window. But, as they say in Italy, "Nessun problema!"

With the proper tools, I was able to cut out the drain pipe, form up and cast the short pillar, and I even though I'm not a stone mason, I had the skills to do some repair to the stone pavement. I'm beginning to see that this job is not insurmountable. 

So, below is the current status of my renovation. 

Here is the current status of this renovation 

Now, this is more of what I had envisioned when I saw the scene before me. Things are beginning to take shape.

There is still a bit more to do, though.

I think that only a designer with a skilled eye can see the changes wrought below, which mainly constitute applying a bit of darkened patina to the plaster work.

But, you with your skilled eye can, I'm sure, see that I've missed a significant element in my renovation work. Yes, it's the mail slot! That mail slot has to go...and it did. Don't bother to look around in nearby trash bins, as I've hidden it away where the residents won't be able to find it!

But, after I got rid of the mail slot, I felt that the huge knocker on the right sat lonely. I went to my catalogs and was able to find a duplicate, which I duly ordered and then installed on the door on the left. Better...I find the two big knockers to be satisfying.

Oh, I then called in an un-locksmith to un-install the modern lock. Gone.

And then as most renovations end, I went through paint chips so that I could apply a fresh coat of paint to the doors. The basic color was the same as the original doors, but I selected a more saturated blue, with just a bit more white in it to lighten the color.

That's it for this week. A complete renovation of a Venetian door. This one fairly dramatic with the removal of that wall et al on the left...and the complete removal of a Venetian canal.

Those knockers remind me of a knock-knock joke. Here it is. I'll leave it to you to start it off -- go ahead:

  • You: 'Knock-knock'
  • Me: 'Who's there?'
  • You: 'Uhhhh....'
  • Me: [I'm laughing uproariously] 


Ciao for now,


Transforming a Sunken Door

Original snap shot of The Sunken Door

I'd have to say that the construction of the door in this article was probably a bit ill advised. It seems that there would be a water issue because of the below-ground-level entrance.

I was not able to detect any sort of rain-water diversion for this door - the stone work of the pavement is not even raised a bit..

You can imagine water flowing into this ‘door well’ as the streets of Venice begin to flood.

Additionally, there is this thing in Venice called 'aqua alta', which literally means high water. Aqua alta occurs when the tide and wind are aligned in such a way as to push water into the Venetian lagoon in excess of what it can handle - this causes flooding in the town of Venice. This flooding can be as much as a few inches (normal) to around three feet (abnormal). 

You can imagine water flowing into this 'door well' as the streets of Venice begin to flood. Fortunately, not much life occurs on the first floor in Venice...the second floor is where most of the traditional living begins, while the first floor is relegated to storage and such.

To transform the snapshot of this door, I began as I always do for Venice photos by removing extraneous conduits, pipes, etc. that are ubiquitous to Venice. Though these items do create a bit of an eyesore, the nice people who live there do need their electricity, gas and water. And, it is a bit of a chore to get these needed utilities into the old stone buildings. But hey, it's my job to remove these modern intrusions in my efforts to create a Venice of a by-gone era when these modern conveniences didn't exist.

Extraneous elements removed

This second photo shows that I have now removed these items from around the entrance, and I have also gotten rid of the mail slot and modern keyholes and such on the doors.

As the original snapshot was a bit 'flat' - i.e. lacking in contrast, saturation, and such - I worked a bit on those elements to get to this next point.

Finally, my assessment was that the door itself was still a bit on the boring side, and was being overshadowed by the surrounding area in terms of color and texture. Wouldn't you agree? 

You will note that the area at the top of the door in the previous photo has red tones, and the bottom of the door has some cyan, or aqua, tones. It's subtle, but it's there. So, I brightened that door and increased the saturation of those illusive tones to achieve my final product - as you can see below.


As this entrance has most likely been a couple of centuries, I suppose we shouldn't worry too much about the owner's water issues.


[As a bit of diversion back to two weeks ago, a couple of you wrote to let me know that the doors in 'Securing Your Haven' still had a bit more clandestine mystery. You noted in the original photo that there was still another lock hidden behind that long-vertical-squiggly bar, and you were right! And again, that lock is not accessible unless that long-vertical-squiggly bar is itself unlocked and moved aside -- the plot's as thick as day-old oatmeal! Thanks for the heads up!]


Ciao for now,






The Venice That Isn’t There

If you've taken a look at my Ancient Venetian Doors collection, what you see is a Venice that doesn't really exist. 

What you see in the door photo below isn’t exactly what you would see walking the streets of Venice today.  What I create for you is the door you would see if you were walking the streets of Venice 600 years ago.

I spend hours removing electrical conduits, mail slots, bells, and any other items that contradict the feeling that you are in the Venice of yesterday – which is just where I want you to be.

You can see the difference in the ‘before’ photo below.  That’s the year 1415 above, and the year 2015 below. It’s the same door, it’s the same surrounding brick, stone and plaster – it’s just a different time.

Now here is another example of the classic Venetian door of yesteryear. 

While below is the door of today – laden with ringers and extraneous piping.  This is the Venice that I don’t want you to imagine in your dreams.  It’s not the more romantic Venice of a time gone by when electricity was not even an imagined concept.

Finally, the example below finds us passing a more modest door – this one not an entrance to a canal-side palazzo, but a more humble abode.  No matter the stature of the residence, I believe in presenting the entrance in a more generous light…giving it the best chance of a days-gone-by charm – just for you.

Notice that I’ve taken the liberty of moving the early peacock-themed plaque from above the wall  to the place where a window used to be.  We’ve moved from an entrance with very little charm, to one loaded with charm. This takes us from a blot on the conscientiousness to an agreeable memory.

Whether in Venice or any other Italian town, I just can't pass up a door or window without stopping to take a photo.  Sometimes I really have to stretch my imagination to visualize a dramatic improvement from what is before me.  But, this transformational process is what fuels my passion for processing my photos.

Each of the ‘Ancient Venetian Doors’ on the website illustrates how I am dedicated to bringing you a fine-art photographic memento of your dreams of Venice…your dreams of walking through Venice in a different time…your dreams of love and romance in a timeless city in a magical lagoon within a by-gone world. I hope you don't mind!


Ciao for Now!

p.s. Feel free to comment below