• The house that embraces

    Riba de Ave, Portugal


08 / 07 / 2016
Homes have memory. When these memories are happy, they embrace those within them. At Quinta do Freixieiro this energy reverberates throughout, the grand sum of the accumulated affection this home has known. To discover this estate is to immerse yourself in an old story that now leads into new, peaceful and inspiring days. And it is also a discovery of how people and homes shape each other mutually.

It is a manor house, dating from the 8th century and typical of the Minho province. It is the heart and soul of this property with a romantic box garden, trees and plants considered exotic in this region, vineyards, an oak and chestnut wood, a vegetable garden and a herb garden. The granite that frames the building also extends into the granite threshing-floor where the swimming pool is now found.

Even so, time doesn’t weigh heavy on the house; it brings, instead, the perfume of childhood. Isabel Faria remembers visiting as a small child. It used to belong to a childless uncle and aunt who “used to love receiving visits from their nephews and nieces. I used to occupy myself exploring the home, which to me seemed to be enchanted. Part of it was always closed off, but I would be given the huge iron keys and I would open the doors.” She would step into a warm world crammed with old books.

More than a century ago, another girl would play here, and it is with this child that the family history begins. The child was the daughter of the estate keepers, and was adopted by the three spinsters that lived on the estate, which at the time was part of the larger Herdade do Freixieiro estate. She was Isabels’s great-grandmother and “was brought up like a princess.” She had four children and died at a young age. But, to the three old ladies, she left “grandchildren of the soul”, and natural heirs. In the more recent past, the house ran the risk of being transferred to another owner. Isabel fought against this: “For me, it has enormous sentimental value; it has been my passion since I was a young girl.” She gave up her house in Oporto in order to “hang on to Freixieiro”, where she now lives.

Located in Riba de Ave, 10 minutos from Guimarães and 30 minutes from Oporto, all the spaces of this farm are well-cared for and the home and all its original features, has been lovingly restored. There are 500 square metres of space comprising six suites, a vast kitchen and different receptions rooms: the dining room with an enormous table; the “Summer Room”, with verandas overlooking the swimming pool; the “Winter Room” and library with its fireplace and the “yoga and meditation room”, exercises practiced daily by the owner of the home. There is also a laundry and other domestic facilities areas.

Isabel Faria took on the décor herself, bringing to the space piece of personal value to her. She speaks to us of the paintings done by her mother, but also of her own creations, such as the collages of photographs of her own daughters or the chandeliers which she has personalised. She also mentions her collaboration with Irene Ferreira da Silva (“with the beautiful patchwork curtains”) and with Renata from Oficina dos Sentidos (“in the painting of symbols, alterations to the furniture and the creation of garden lamps”). 
Photos: Carlos Cezanne
Text: Virgínia Capoto
Production: Ana Lapão 

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