Stunning, recently renovated farmhouse in northeastern Slovenia, close to the Austrian border, set within 45 acres and 250m down a private lane. The land consists of 14 acres of pasture, 22 acres of mature woodland and with 8 acres of cultivable land (currently under grass). The house would lend itself to accommodate paying guests. It is set on a promontory between two deep valleys, both of which lie on the land, and faces south, with lots of windows on all four sides. The ground rises sharply to the north of the house, protecting it from the coldest winds. The landscape is breathtaking and the views from the house, yard and land to die for.
Access is up stone steps to a large, open porch where it's nice to sit in the summer. The original hardwood double doors have been renovated and retained. This leads into a spacious hall (4m x 4m) with a very high ceiling and a custom-made staircase of solid acacia wood winds up to the upper floor. Two bedrooms lead off the hall, as does the kitchen-diner.
The kitchen-diner (7m x 6m) is separated by three arches and has windows on three sides, filling it with light. It also has a door leading outside. There are a range of farmhouse style built-in units and shelves, some by the back door, others in the kitchen. The work surfaces are solid acacia wood (very hard and beautiful). There is a traditional wood-burning stove/oven with a back boiler that heats the water in winter, and in addition, a gas hob for summer cooking. This runs on calor gas and there is a bespoke cupboard beneath to hide the bottle in. The sink is a double benson sink, placed in front of a window with a lovely view.
There are 2 double bedrooms downstairs, each about 5m x 5m, each with a private sitting area in addition. The north-facing room has a single aspect and a private bathroom with a corner bath, a shower and a toilet. This is blissfully cool in the summer. The second downstairs bedroom has a double aspect and a private shower room with toilet. This room features a stained glass window into the sitting area of the bedroom. Both rooms feature the arches that are the house's iconic feature.
Upstairs is the 80 square metre living room, two thirds the length of the house and easily the piece de resistence of the whole building. Open to the eaves, with the massive, hand hewn roof timbers on view and the main lighting cunningly hidden to achieve a soft light, it has a chimney in the centre taking the flue from the kitchen, beside which is a very powerful wood-burning stove whose windows remain clear of soot and tar. The room has windows at the gable end, and 4 skylights that give a lovely view down the valley.
The third double bedroom (5m x 5m) leads off from the living space, also with the timbers on show and a storage gallery built at the apex end, which also houses the water storage tank. It has a private shower room and a balconey.
A lavatory (4m x 2m) built under the eaves leads off from the living room. It is an unusually beautiful space for such a room, with wall timbers on show as well as a skylight.
There are radiators throughout downstairs, powered by a three-fuel boiler (wood-powered from the kitchen stove; solar powered from 3 solar hot water panels; and electricity if needed). The boiler switches between heat sources automatically. The woodburner upstairs is ample to heat the entire upper storey.
The water is from a very strong private spring, which gathers in a shallow well 20m from the house. It flows to a pressure vessel in the cellar which pumps it up into the roof. There is a softening system on one feed, which goes into the hot water system and also to the cold taps upstairs. To save on salt, the toilets are fed by a third, cold water system that flows directly from the pressure vessel, and also feeds the kitchen tap. It is the best water I have ever tasted.
The sewerage travels into the cellar and underground to the septic tank, so that it is immune from freezing in very cold weather. From there, the outflow goes to a small reedbed system and is discharged, clean, onto the land.
The total floorspace is about 150 square metres, with a 15m long hayloft in addition.
The main outbuilding is approx 25m x 6m, half of which were the original outbuildings for the farm. The end room is 6m x 3m. The second is 6m x 6m and has a beautiful corbelled ceiling. There are woodburning stoves in both these rooms (we lived in them during the renovation). The final part of this building comprises another, modern room 10m x 6m, which we used as a workshop, and finally a space (6m x 6m) at the end, open to the roof, for vehicle and farmkit storage and access to the hayloft. Within this is a wooden pen (3m x 4m) with access directly to the fields in which we housed the goats. Running the length of the enclosed building (about 20m) is a 6m wide lean-to, open on one end, and with a wooden 'wall' chest high on the other two sides. This is such a useful area. Dry and cool to do all those mucky jobs you don't want to do inside.
There is also a concrete-built shed about 3m x 4m, with a secure metal door for valuable bits of kit.
The cellar is a useful space, accessed only from outside. It's about 7m x 7m and houses the water system, with lots of room for storage.
There is a wooden open-fronted shed, about 10m long, where we parked the car, stored stuff and kept the wood for the winter.
Finally, there's what the Slovenes call a 'bee house'. It's a sort of open-fronted cupboard where you stack layers of hives, so all the bees have access to the south, and you have acces from behind, without having to be outside. It's about 2m x 3m.
Unlike most farms in Slovenia, all the land with this farm is in a single, continuous unit, with the house near the centre. It is classified as a 'conserved farm'.
There is a little land around the house where vegetable crops can be grown. The soil is alkaline, but with a sandy feel (rather like Cotswold soil), is light to work and grows things like anything.
There is also a heavier field that is completely flat, of about 2 acres, perhaps more. There are another 6 acres that are suitable for cropping, up at the top part of the farm.
There is a 1 acre vinyard, with a variety of grapes and some peach trees.
The rest of the open land, about 14 acres, is sloping, some of it steeply, and is ideally suited to grazing. There is a pond in one of the valleys with a stock of fish. People have been known to go fishing in it.
The woodland (22 acres) is all on sloping ground, in two distinct areas, one of which is very steep. It provides not only ample wood for fuelling the various stoves in winter, but can also be cropped every 5 years, to add to the income stream.
There are a number of mature walnut trees, which provide a lot of delicious walnuts, and various fruit trees scattered about. One of the two mature horsechestnut trees provides brilliant shade for the house roof in the heat of the summer, and a very pleasant place to sit out under.