Upcycling | House on the Brooks

11 March 2022

Mark Dallyn and his farming family have been based in Sussex for six generations, about 16 years ago he decided to share his love for the wonderful South Downs countryside and started turning the first building on his 250-acre farmland into a self-catering holiday house. Since then he has added several more houses to the portfolio and 'House on the Brooks' has become a popular holiday destination for families and friends looking to escape everyday life. It is perfect for bigger groups and wedding parties as they can choose to hire not just one house, but all four plus an airstream caravan - offering award-winning accommodation for over 60 people in total.

When Mark started to think about the interiors of the houses, he wanted to make sure that they had a homely, but unique feel to them. As Bellmans, the local auction house, is just down the road, he spent plenty of time checking out what was coming up for auction and managed to furnish most of the buildings entirely with furniture and architectural pieces bought at auction.

He then put his creative mind to it and designed some wonderful interiors. A big boardroom marble table was cut in half and used as a shower separator in a bathroom, giving it a very grand feel. A huge dresser was also amended so it could provide storage units on opposite sides of a kitchen. Many architectural elements were purchased to create room dividers and Mark even bought tiles for some of the bathrooms at auction.

Mark says: "I love finding all these unusual items at auction and the antique doors and furniture throughout are from Bellmans. The buildings at House on the Brooks have been purpose built, using local labour with as many reclaimed materials as possible. For example, the clay tiles came from the roof of a local cinema and the large timbers from local railway bridges."

Many rooms are themed and Mark has added to them as and when he found items at auction. There are rooms with Indian and Chinese themes, the boat room, a room celebrating the Arts & Crafts movement and a Frida Kahlo one. Some rooms are clearly inspired by ancient Rome and Italy and the Tree Tops house recreates the atmosphere of being on Safari in Africa with an outdoor shower and lake.

Will Pasfield, one of Bellmans' directors, comments: "Although I pretty much deal with all aspects of our auctions, I am a furniture specialist and to me that is definitely an area where we can all do our bit and upcycle. If you are looking for a table or chairs, any furniture really, have a look at what is on offer in the next auction first. Antique furniture has been made to last and it will be of superior quality in terms of wood and craftsmanship to most things you can buy new today. Anything new on a similar quality level will cost you far more than most antique pieces of furniture. What's more important, the carbon footprint of 'old' furniture is minimal as the wood for antique furniture would have been transported by sailing boats for example. If you are coming to our Friday 500 auction, you can make some real bargains and get a Victorian mahogany extending dining table for £90 or an early 20th century oak roll desk for £45. A mahogany chest of drawers could be yours for £120 and a set of four antique dining chairs for £25. Not only is that cheaper than any new furniture, but just imagine what those pieces of furniture have seen…if only they could tell us their story."

Nestled in the South Downs National Park, Sussex, close to London and Brighton, the 'House on the Brooks' is very environmentally & sustainability focused and has recently been awarded the Best Rural Tourism Award for the East Region by the Rural Business Awards.

Read more about House on the Brooks here.

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