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For a Long Winter’s Nap: A Manor House and a Schoolhouse in the German Countryside, Available for Stays

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For a Long Winter’s Nap: A Manor House and a Schoolhouse in the German Countryside, Available for Stays

December 4, 2019

I was in an old bookshop in Dublin, of all places, escaping the cold and leafing through a book called The Foraged Home, when I stopped on a spread of an old schoolhouse in Germany and was instantly entranced. I hurried back to my hotel room to do some Google reconnaissance and discovered more to the story:

Tucked in the Mecklenburg countryside, near the rural village of Rensow, the Schoolhouse and a nearby Manor House are the project of Danish/German couple Christina and Knut. The couple was living in Copenhagen, where Christina is from, before finding the late 17th-century Manor House (“almost ruinous,” Christina says) in 2002. “The first years we came here for the weekends,” she says. “We worked on the house, rooms, walls…”, peeling away layers to reveal patinated walls and adding antiques. The couple was well-suited to the task: Christina has a background in fashion (during stints at Harrod’s and Harvey Nichols in London, Princess Diana was one of her clients), and Knut grew up apprenticing to his father’s antiques trade, driving through the German countryside to source pottery and antiques from old farmhouses.

The couple revived the house and saved it from ruin; then, slowly, after a job relocation and the birth of their daughter, then their son, spent more and more time in the house, before settling in full-time with their family. “We decided to try the country life—we could always go back if it did not work out,” Christina says. “Now [that was] nine years ago, and no sign that we’ll move back any time soon.”

They live in the Manor House, really an old farmhouse—and rent out, for vacation lets, rooms in the Manor House as well as the Schoolhouse in the nearby village, which they’ve also redone, all under the name Gutshaus Rensow.

Here’s a look (and many reasons to make a pilgrimage to Rensow).

Photography via Gutshaus Rensow.

The Manor House

The Manor House (what Christina and Knut call the Gutshaus, or farmhouse) dates to the late th century, &#8
Above: The Manor House (what Christina and Knut call the Gutshaus, or farmhouse) dates to the late 17th century, “with medieval ground cellars, all in all dating back to the ninth century,” Christina adds.

According to the guesthouse website, “the house is surrounded by a former English, but now rather wild, park, with centuries-old trees, shy deers, colorful peacocks, music frogs, a singing nightingale called here sprosser, and curious foxes.”

&#8
Above: “A lot of people either tear a place like this down or restore it unsympathetically,” Knut told Airbnb’s blog. “Everything has to be straight lines, everything has to look perfect, and things aren’t allowed to look used. I call it ‘old house exorcism’ and this really isn’t our style.” Instead, the couple opted for Gothic, rough-hewn grandeur: dark walls, bare floors, and  threadbare rugs.
Antique furniture and paintings pair throughout with shelves of old glassware and brass candlesticks.
Above: Antique furniture and paintings pair throughout with shelves of old glassware and brass candlesticks.
The Schoolroom, an apartment in the Manor House, has dark blue-grey walls and plenty of candles.
Above: The Schoolroom, an apartment in the Manor House, has dark blue-grey walls and plenty of candles.
The Manor House can sleep 
Above: The Manor House can sleep 21 people, “spread over four holiday apartments and three simple double rooms,” the site says.

The Old Schoolhouse

The rustic old Schoolhouse–Alte Schule in German—is a short distance from the Manor House in the village and sleeps loading=
Above: The rustic old Schoolhouse–Alte Schule in German—is a short distance from the Manor House in the village and sleeps 12. Throughout, Christina and Knut were inspired by the concept of imperfection (“the poor man’s Axel Vervoordt,” they say on Airbnb).
Exposed, stripped-back walls stand in lieu of wallpaper or paint. Here, a dining nook, with linen cushions and winter light. Christina and Knut also offer meals, prepared in their farmhouse kitchen, for groups.
Above: Exposed, stripped-back walls stand in lieu of wallpaper or paint. Here, a dining nook, with linen cushions and winter light. Christina and Knut also offer meals, prepared in their farmhouse kitchen, for groups.
The Schoolhouse is heated entirely by wood stoves.
Above: The Schoolhouse is heated entirely by wood stoves.
Subtle color comes in the way of ochre walls and antique chairs.
Above: Subtle color comes in the way of ochre walls and antique chairs.
The ultimate rustic decor: a sheepskin and a stalk, placed in a vase.
Above: The ultimate rustic decor: a sheepskin and a stalk, placed in a vase.
In the spirit of simplicity and imperfection, a bedside is adorned with a foraged pine branch and small candle.
Above: In the spirit of simplicity and imperfection, a bedside is adorned with a foraged pine branch and small candle.
A dark-hued bath, with perfectly off-center mirror, in the Schoolhouse.
Above: A dark-hued bath, with perfectly off-center mirror, in the Schoolhouse.
The exterior of the Schoolhouse.
Above: The exterior of the Schoolhouse.

N.B.: See more of the two houses—Manor House and Schoolhouse—on Airbnb.

And for more rustic favorites in Germany, some available for let, see:

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