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.
Manar House was built in 1811 for Hugh Gordon designed by renowned local architect John Smith who also designed balmoral Castle for Queen Victoria. The estate and grounds were purchased by Hugh Gordon and renamed Manar as a tribute to where he made his fortune Pearl fishing in the Manar Straits between the south coast of India and Sri Lanka.
A well-loved family home and big part of the community for many years unfortunately it had been empty for a few years and in serious disrepair when Christina and her husband, Dean, came across it for sale.
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.
Christina knew when driving up the long tree lined drive, that this house was magical. The surrounding countryside was spectacular and although the house looked worn and almost sad, she felt an amazing energy here. She knew with love, she could bring the house back to life. But she also realised it would be a huge undertaking, having renovated (much smaller) properties in the past.
"Inspired by our love of architecture, history, nature and art we had always dreamt of being the custodians of a big old historic building so that we could share it with the community."
Christina will admit that in all honesty, at times, it’s been a real struggle. Throw a global pandemic into the mix and suddenly they were running on adrenalin and not a lot of sleep for a very long time. Not sustainable. Christina had a mental health break from work because it just all got too much, she re-found yoga and the art of mindfulness which is why she's so passionate about the slow living events they are now hosting at Manar. The only way she managed to get through the renovation was with grit, determination, teamwork and having fun. Whenever she embraced the chaos, remained patient and focussed on making things fun, the house was actually therapy. Christina had to accept that old houses love surprises and you have to sometimes think on your feet and change your approach.
Christina's entire professional career has been in emission reduction and sustainability, therefore their ethos for the house is to intrinsically link nature and sustainability in whatever they do. They're passionate about reducing their impact and inspiring others wherever possible to do the same. When starting to look for floor coverings, Christina was looking for a company who could create quality natural carpets ethically and Alternative Flooring stood out from the crowd. Christina and Dean loved that origins of the company, our focus on sustainability and the beautiful quality and range of natural low impact carpets we had to offer.
Christina has used Wool Rhythm striped carpet in some guest bedrooms, Woosie in others. She has used our Wool Pebble carpet in her family snug and had our Wool Iconic Herringbone carpet cut to shape and bound to create a stunning curving runner on her staircase. She has also had numerous bespoke rugs made from Sisal Herringbone and Wool.
In addition to this, for another set of stairs, hallways and landings Christina chose our Quirky Tartan; reimagined tartan designs created by the talented young designer and recent Glasgow School of Art graduate – Sophie Anne Campbell. Christina states firmly that she wouldn’t want to go anywhere else now; she loves working with the alternative team and every carpet we have in her home.
When it came to measuring and installation, Christina used local flooring stores including the excellent team at Gillies who came on board with the project and did a great job figuring the Quirky Tartan and the guest bedroom carpets.
As Christina says, "It’s always satisfying to use quality local suppliers, who offer trusted knowledge, backed by trained and accredited skilled flooring fitters. Gillies have provided great advice on material, measurement and installation, delivering an excellent service with minimal fuss. Our carpets have all been beautifully fitted!"
Christina's favourite space in Manar House? It has to be her family snug. It’s where they relax, where the girls play, where they spend time together as a family after busy days, where the dog’s cosy by the fire and the heart of the home.
And what advise would Christina give to anyone starting out on a renovation journey of their own? 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.
As Christina says, "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."
Read Christina's blog here or see her Q&A with us below.
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