“Working with Fervidus White was effortless and a pleasure from start to finish. Our home’s remarkable and it’s thanks to the incredible team, Steve & Karen’s endless imagination that it happened at all.”
SB – London
What was the Client Brief?
We were asked to find a traditional property with at least four bedrooms as both a second family home and an investment. Our clients had their heart set on a house with plenty of authentic character set in a large garden, preferably with an olive grove and cypress trees. Rural extensive views were another essential and a lively market town within easy reach was also a priority, particularly as our clients had plans to let the property as a holiday home during spring and summer.
What is the history of the Property?
Back in the days of donkey-powered millwheels, you’d see olive mills scattered all over rural Tuscany. Today they’re a rare find. We only discovered this one through local contacts – like a lot of traditional Italian property it was never on the market. A derelict ruin might not sound inspiring, but it had astonishing views, mature olive trees in almost two hectares of land and planning permission already in place. It was also south facing. And, despite years of neglect, still retained its character and enough original features to guide our design ideas
Designing the interior of an historic property is always about balancing heritage with lifestyle. We created the mill’s new vaulted stone ceilings build by a local artisan, sourced reclaimed features and installed a medieval fireplace. The modern kitchen sits comfortably with the historic architectural elements of the house. All four bedrooms have individually designed en-suite bathrooms. And contemporary furniture blends with carefully chosen period pieces in every room to complement the architecture and at the same time creates the unmistakeable sense of a warm and much loved family home.
What Challenges did we need to overcome?
The original property was slightly smaller than our clients wanted, so our first step was to design a sympathetic tower extension and apply for planning permission. We also faced the challenge of clearing the mill’s wildly overgrown hillside site; levelling areas for gardens and a pool terrace, then installing a new drainage system along with storm drains. And of course there was no electricity or running water on site, which meant connecting to the mains; no mean feat as the nearest supply was almost a kilometre away from the mill
What were the project Timescales?
Within a year of buying the olive mill, all major work was completed, including installing utilities, restoring the original well and constructing a road to the property. An application for planning permission to build a tower extension was also submitted and granted within the first year. And although, landscaping the grounds and designing the pool terrace took another six months, our clients still moved into their new home less than two years after they’d first fallen in love with a ruin.
As well as a wonderful second home, the Olive Mill is also now a very popular boutique holiday property with one of the UK’s leading rental companies