We're back with Christina from @HouseofHorspool for the second part of our interview; chatting all about her family's renovation of a Georgian manor house in the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside.
We love how you've used Woodchip & Magnolia in your home. Could you tell us a bit more about your gorgeous cloakroom transformation?
The aim of this room was to impress, spark excitement and joy and to feel immersed in art and nature. When we moved in though, the cloakroom was part toilet part store room with huge storage cupboards filling the space and blocking the large sash window. We knew that this room could be a little unexpected design treat.
It's found just off the Billiard room in the space of the house that connects the self-catered apartments in the west wing to the main house, and so would get a lot of visitors over the years - we really wanted it to pack a punch! We knew that a wrap around mural would look incredible and with the big Sash window, we wanted to compliment the nature views, not struggle against them so we stuck with the nature theme for the mural. Instead of green we were inspired to go for an inky blue by the veining in the most beautiful marble floor tiles we found.
It feels electric now when you walk in; big on glamour with the marble floor and colour palette, yet it’s not all luxe - we managed to up cycle an existing double basin with unit that had been left in the house, which was a big win. A lick of paint, some new handles and silicon later and she’s unrecognisable!
Your entrance hall is pretty spectacular. Where did your inspiration come from for this space?
The entrance at Manar is one of the biggest wow features of the house and we knew we wanted to have a subtle but show-stopping design addition to make our own mark on the house. This is where the Woodchip & Magnolia murals came in! We looked at numerous designs but nothing quite fitted the bill until we stumbled across you guys! We were overwhelmed by how much your murals reminded us of the beautiful Scottish countryside. With a passion for nature, we wanted to bring the outside in where we didn’t have the views.
Image featuring Land of Milk and Honey Grey Mural
The two hallways with their height and location in the house needed to be brought back to life. They initially looked like school corridors and the Woodchip & Magnolia murals just completely fitted the brief. We love how when you come into the main entrance hall you get a glimpse of the two murals through the archways and you are drawn in - you want to go and explore! It's so welcoming. All of our guests fall in love as soon as they seem them!
What is your favourite space at Manar House?
This is such a difficult question as it really depends on how I'm feeling on any given day! We spend a lot of time in the kitchen (with a young family, who doesn’t?!) and that isn’t even done yet. Our snug is a great place to relax at the end of the day, sat by the fire enjoying the views from the bay window. But then the two large formal rooms at the front of the house have the most incredible light because of the big windows and the fact the house is south facing. You sometimes can’t help but be drawn into them to enjoy the views and the changing countryside scenes.
What's your favourite thing about your home?
The pleasure it gives our family and friends. It really is a soulful home in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, and there really is nothing better than when it is full of people we love and care about all having fun. It comes alive and I think about all of the past memories it must hold for many other families.
How do you like to relax at Manar House between renovation works?
With a relaxing soak in the bath or on my yoga mat in a sun-filled room!
How do you handle such a large scale renovation as well as children and day jobs? Any tips?
Being a team! Planning, budgeting, family and friends (especially Grandmas to help with childcare!) and trusted tradesmen. We know and work with a small team of tradesmen and contractors who have been with us from the beginning and some from previous renovations!
We work evenings and weekends but we always factor in family time. Some of that is non-negotiable. We also have an amazing family and great group of friends who have all got stuck in throughout our time here to help. In return we offer food and board and they seem happy with that! We haven’t had an actual holiday in two years either, so we are maybe due one.
Key tips would be realistic OKRs – objectives and Key results to keep projects moving, and lots of lists! And as Mary Poppins would say ‘in every job that must be done there is an element of fun, you find the fun and the job becomes a game’…never a truer word spoken!
How would you advise anyone on the hunt for a similar renovation?
Do you have any top tips for renovators?
1. Salvage, reuse and upcycle what you can. It's amazing how a few tweaks can transform what you already have.
2. Buy samples! Look at them in different lights, at different times of the day, in different parts of the room. Stick samples on the wall and leave them there for a week.
3. Bargain hunt – we are often looking at auctions and second hand shops for the unique and characterful pieces that make your house your home.
4. Budget and timeline your project – it can be painful but it's important to know from the off what you have and what you can realistically achieve by when.
5. Overalls will save all of your gym leggings.I learnt this the hard way...
6. Have fun and enjoy the process!
Keep your eye on auction site and let local estate agents in the areas you are looking in know what you are after. You might get first sight of anything coming on to the market. Be open minded and go and view any that look like they have potential. We very nearly didn’t even view ours but as soon as we came up the drive, we knew it was the one!
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us Christina! Your home is beautiful and we can't wait to see what the future holds for Manar House.
Read part 1 of our interview here.