Christina Horspool is the proud co-owner of Manar House, a grand Georgian Manor located in Aberdeenshire countryside. On February 14th, 2020 – known as the most romantic day of the year – Christina and her family got their hands on this beautiful home that needed some love and attention. An Instagram account was born named after their surname, House of Horspool (@houseofhorspool) and the renovating journey began. If a young family and this enormous undertaking wasn’t enough, Christina is one of the top 10 females working in innovation and technology for sustainability and climate action.
We caught up with Christina to chat about the project and she shares the story so far.
Can you give us some background on Manar house?
What attracted you to Manar House?
We knew on driving up the long tree lined drive this house was magical, the surrounding countryside is spectacular and although the house looked worn and almost sad, we felt an amazing energy here. We knew with love, we could bring her back to life. But we also realised it would be a huge undertaking having renovating properties in the past (much smaller properties) we knew the demands!
Where did you find inspiration for the reno?
How did you juggle a huge renovation, jobs and family life?
In all honesty at times it’s been a real struggle. Throw a global pandemic into the mix and suddenly we were running on adrenalin and not a lot of sleep for a very long time. Not sustainable. I had a mental health break from work because it just all got too much, I re-found yoga and the art of mindfulness which is why I’m so passionate about our slow living events we are now hosting at Manar. The only way we managed to get through the renovation was with grit, determination, teamwork and having fun. Whenever we embraced the chaos, remained patient and focussed on making things fun the house was actually therapy. We had to accept that old houses love surprises and you have to sometimes think on your feet and change your approach.
Why did you choose Alternative for your home?
We used local flooring stores and the excellent team at Gillies came on board and did a great job figuring the Quirky Tartan and the guest room carpets. It’s always satisfying to use quality local suppliers, who offer trusted knowledge, backed by trained and accredited skilled flooring fitters. Gillies has provided great advice on material, measurement and installation, delivering an excellent service with minimal fuss. Our carpets have all been beautifully fitted!
What is your favourite space within Manar House?
It has to be our snug. It’s where we relax, where the girls play, where we spend time together after our busy days, where the dog’s cosy by the fire and it’s honestly the heart of the home.
Yours walls are adorned with Woodchip & Magnolia statement wallpaper – is this your usual style?
We always wanted to bring nature into our designs be that through natural materials or prints. We are constantly inspired by our surroundings so when we came across the exquisite Woodchip & Magnolia designs and spoke to Nina who again had a similar ethos to ourselves we knew they were perfect for Manar. A small British design business we wanted our many and often huge walls to showcase the fabulous work they have to offer. We love that we have the mix of calm tranquil murals to big bold and colourful ones. That every design could work in many different types of homes. One of my favourite design decisions in the entire house was when we decided on the busy bee wallpaper for the billiard room… the bee often associated with hard work, commitment and resilience felt like the perfect choice. Especially with where we were at with the renovation.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about taking on a project?
Have patience and set realistic timeframes – inevitably there will be delays and things out of your control so best to be patient and enjoy the journey.
It’s amazing what you can learn to do yourself and if you can the unskilled tasks can often be quite expensive, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. We’ve done so much of the hard graft but it’s so rewarding. Little and often helps to keep momentum without burning yourself out, every hour here and there really does add up so be kind to yourself and do what you can when you can.
Describe your style in three words…
It’s hard to describe our style, we love the feeling that a room evokes when you walk in. We don’t follow trends but instead curate items from furniture to lighting to art to carpets that we love and are ethically sourced. It’s really all about how a colour or fabric makes us feel within the space we have. In some spaces we wanted impact and to be bold to enliven the senses such as the Inidra ink cloakroom in others we wanted the architecture to steal the show whilst still bringing a welcoming feeling of calm. I’d love someone else to describe our style because I find it too hard!! The yogi in me would say It’s a feeling or a vibe!
Do you have any future plans for the Manar house?
You can watch the full interview with Christina here.