Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Upcycling a 1970s house into an eco-B&B

Thursday, 28 April 2011, WET


Hello Everyone!!!

Many artists today are incorporating Upcycling: the  ritual of  breathing beauty into rather mundane, and often unappealing,  discarded things.   Upcycling is a step above recycling.  According to those in the know, Upcycling ventures to please and delight.   

Joanna Vasconcleos, a Portuguese artist, who lives and works in Lisbon, is internationally acclaimed for her upcycled sculptures.    Her Cinderella slipper made of pot lids.

Then there is Margaux Lange who transforms Barbie dolls into jewelry.   Take a look at her interesting

Up-cycling became the modus operendi for Colina Flora, now an Eco-guesthouse.  We had dreams of acquiring a lovely antique ruin to renovate for our  planned B&B.  After months of searching,  with the realization that  antique houses were beyond our means,  we purchased a small, beautiful piece of land located in the heart of the wonderful Sintra Natural Park with an antique ruin of a windmill and great ocean views, and a very esthetically challenged 1970s country cottage.   The antique windmill is a future  project, but first we tackled the seriously design challenged house. We up-cycled fabric, tiles, ugly lamps, wooden walls, sinks slip-covered  and refashioned big bulky pieces of furniture.  Whew! and after 6 months of intense labor -we still have a ways to go- our Eco-guesthouse is smiling, small, yet lovely and open for business.

Take a look:

Variations on the shades of boring brown ( I like great deep browns – lots of wonderful browns out there).  We opened up the space, painted with clay paint ( a terracotta color was aimed  for,  but my mixing   ended up with peach.  With guests booked, the peach went on the walls.)  Amazing what a bit of paint achieves. 

 I removed heavy, dusty and very outdated lamps and created replacements out of  a torn wool blanket and,  with the help of a blacksmith, reworked the metal of the old lamps to form bases for the new lamps. for more pictures and information  

Living room before the change

upcycled living room

Tidbits from Portugal: wonderful natural goat milk soaps

Thursday, 18 November 2010, WET


Seven weeks into the remodeling of our 1970´s country house and we are beginning to see some great results.

Two of our guest rooms with adjoining baths are completed. Our website is almost ready to go online. Our first guests are arriving December 24th.

Colina Flora has special winter offers. Stay for 6 nights, pay for 5 and get free shuttle service to and from the airport  and a welcoming dinner the night of your arrival.

Our winter weekend special is: stay for 3 nights and pay for two.

Consider giving Gift Certificates for Christmas for a stay at our lovely Colina Flora Bed & Breakfast.

Contact us at for more details, or call us at 351 93 848 0316.

It is now the middle of November and the flowers continue to be abundant. The Camillias are just bursting into blossom, the roses are glorious, and the annuals, long gone in northern climates, are vibrant.

We named our hilltop B&B Colina Flora – “Hill of Flowers” because of this area’s colorful 4-season splendor.  The weather is still balmy: in the high 60´s to low 70´s with only occasional rain. Perfect weather for hiking, mountain biking or strolling on the beach.

Our B&B has several bikes and an incredible bike rental facility is nearby, so we can arrange for you to be fully equipped for your biking holiday, complete with GPS system. We offer picnic lunches (always organic and vegetarian – though delicious carnivore meals are available upon request!); and we´ll even deliver the lunch baskets to your designated spot.  

Paulo Patrizio, garden designer, builder, massage therapist and soap maker has created a wonderful line of natural goat’s milk soap. For years he has been experimenting with traditional Portuguese soap recipes incorporating locally sourced ingredients. The result is a wonderful scent-free soap, which soothes and softens the skin. Goat milk soap is a great moisturizer, wonderful for sensitive skin, and gently exfoliates due to alpha hydroxy acids found in the milk. We especially love his Fairy soaps and the Celtic Crosses. Soaps are available in 10 designs from 2€ – 6€ and make great Christmas gifts. We ship anywhere.

Fairy Soap - 6 €

Heart Soap - 2 €

Contact us at: , or by phone at 351 93 848 0316.

See our location on Google Earth by pasting these GPS Lattitude/Longitude coordinates:        38º 47.400′ N  9º 27.460′ W

Our winter weekend special is: stay for 3 nights and pay for two.

Tidbits from Portugal: design

Monday, 01 November 2010, WET

Gate in Evora

Shortly after moving to Portugal we met Manuela and Nuno, designers, floral artists and foodies, at the local natural food shop.  After living in Paris for many years, they returned to their native Portugal and transformed a huge, abandoned old Adega (wine-cellar) into a most exquisite flower shop/art gallery, interspersed with incredible antiques (we love the displayed  life size elephant made out of leather and wood elephant  – heritage unknown).
Their gallery, Flores do Cabo, hosts monthly exhibits highlighting regional artists.   And their flora and fauna arrangements are terrific, elegant and soothingly simple.  They also host wonderful concerts, always a bit exotic and floral design wookshops (find them on Facebook).

Ancient Wood & Leather Elephant on display at Flores do Cabo

All of our fantastic design and foodie finds are shared with our B&B visitors. We help plan creative and interesting day trips for our guests, incorporating morning hiking, biking, golfing, birding etc.  with afternoon ventures to various design and art/artisan locales.

Tidbits from Portugal: design/art, culinary treats, sustainability etc

Saturday, 30 October 2010, WET

Wide, sandy beaches along a Big Sur-like Atlantic Coast

Greetings from the Sintra/Colares area of Portugal where the beaches are gorgeous, the Sintra Mountains are lush and a hikers paradise, the traditional villages are a treat to explore, and where many historic palaces dot the landscape.  And, of course, where the living is easy!

We are Quinta Colina Flora, a soon-to open eco-friendly Bed & Breakfast in this special part of Portugal.

We trust you will join us periodically as we use this blog to document our journey.  And we hope you’ll consider a visit once we are up and running!