Nancy Zwiers | July 22, 2013
Usually busy refurbishing grand houses in the smarter parts of London, Atelier Maia recently completed a very different project: the renovation of a 1910 Tudor revival house surrounded by woodland in suburban Iver Heath. The rambling 7,800-square-foot structure is not the retreat of hedge-fund manager. Rather, it’s the Bridgettine Guest House, where
the Order of Our Most Holy Saviour of Saint Bridget welcomes anyone who feels the need to escape the world for a few days.
“It had to be a special place, where every piece we introduced had meaning. We decided there would be as few mass-produced items as possible—enhancing the spirituality through the feeling you get from crafted objects,” Atelier Maia executive director Monica Mauti says. (Mauti is a native of Rome, also once home to the five Bridgettine sisters who came to Iver Heath to set up the guesthouse back in 1931.)
The 11 bedrooms meant installing 11 new bathrooms. “Our main intervention there was the glazed and unglazed ceramic tiles,” Mauti says. All were custom-made at Atelier Maia using molds and stamps to imprint geometric shapes on the squares. Tiles also embellish other parts of the house, 3,500 in all. Even the risers on a staircase are tiled.
For each bathroom, Mauti chose a white wall-mounted washbasin. “I really don’t like vanity units in a small space,” she says. “Instead, I make sure there is a little cabinet to one side for toiletries.” Faucets, too, were chosen for their restraint. “A good tap is one that works,” she continues. “It isn’t the first thing you see when you enter the room. It’s something discreet, not a piece of contemporary sculpture.”
Guesthouse furniture is a mixture of custom and vintage. For example, in the dining room, the tables set end to end were specially designed, with tops in reclaimed European oak, to accommodate two dozen Italian rustic chairs. Mauti’s palette throughout is subdued: pale to dark gray, brown, black. So nothing disturbs the peaceful aura of this sequestered home away from home.