When Dean Poulton and Borja De Maqua from @mytinyestate started looking for their next home, we doubt they ever imagined they’d settle on restoring an entire 65 room country estate, let alone have their own TV show to follow the progress. We’ve been delighted to work alongside them on the journey of bringing the various elements of the property back to life, for example, the hay loft and associated ante-rooms.
Creative Director Rob Whitaker sat down with Borja for a Q&A, to learn more about the project.
What was it that made you buy the estate when you were not even considering such a large project? How did you find it?
Love at first sight! Genuinely when we went through the massively overgrown walled gardens Dean and I looked at each other and already knew, we felt a connection with the place and felt we were the right people to save it!
Of course, we never considered such a large project, we were originally looking for a three-bedroom cottage, but as the 'perfect’ cottage wasn’t coming on the market, we thought why not buy the perfect estate with multiple cottages! We spotted the advert on Rightmove commercial and we felt tempted to have a look.
Did you know straight away how it would look, or was the design and refurbishment something that evolved over time?
We knew straightaway that we wanted to be sympathetic yet elevate the space. Overtime as we gained more skills, experiences and confidence I think we have been achieving better finishes, however the core of the design has always stayed the same, natural materials, stay true to the period and not over complicate it.
How important was retaining any remaining original features? What’s your favourite found object and have you managed to use it when decorating?
It was KEY for us not only to retain original features but reintroduce details where over time, they were lost. Our absolute favourite was a lost letter that we found under a floorboard from 1873. A letter that was extremely well preserved, and never reached its destination.
We made copies which are displayed as artwork, having kept the original safe.
Why did you choose to use Spanish Handmade Terracotta for the hay loft?
Terracotta flooring was a very popular choice of material back in the day for more transited areas; we love it. We wanted to carry on a continuity throughout the estate with the materials used, they are extremely resilient, and they only get better over time, what is not to love? The fact that they were Spanish handmade was the icing on the cake as I felt an additional connection; being Spanish myself.
Was it important to use natural materials like the Habitation wood floor you chose from Claybrook?
We are conscious that by using materials like wood or stone, we are able to keep adding character to the building when we do conversions, we never wanted a modern interior within a 200-year-old building. We wanted to be respectful and so we have made conscious decisions on materials that they would have chosen back then, albeit some of our choices are fancier than they would have made.
Habitation Great Hall wood flooring
Whose idea was it to add marble tiles when traditionally the house may never have used this classic material?
It was definitely me that mentioned marble which Dean completely agreed with. Marble has never been out of fashion, we have wanted to use materials that will never date.
Although they didn’t use marble back then in bathrooms (as they didn’t have bathrooms) they did use this noble material in fireplaces to showcase their wealth. Luckily marble is a lot more achievable to purchase for many now, and we wanted our bathrooms to be our luxury oasis.
When it’s all finished… then what will you do?Its a long way away until it’s all finished… but I want to say enjoy it! Although, the maintenance of a place like this will keep us busy for ever...
Check out ‘Saving the Manor’ on HGTV and Discovery Plus.
Notes on products used to date: For the bedroom accommodation they wanted bright and fresh with a feel of history. The original floor wasn’t salvageable so they used our Habitation engineered oak flooring (no longer available), in the warm Great Hall option. For the adjoining cloakroom they used our Spanish Handmade Red Terracotta in the 20x20 size (a little touch of home for Borja). For walls and shower they chose classic white/grey marble from our East Haven collection, in a 30x60 format.