The Yat is a unique and historic house, which the artist Krystyna Zaremba has over the last 29 years been transforming into a beautiful home.
Krystyna had Polish parents, who were exiled having fought for freedom for Poland alongside the Allies, but who could not return to their homeland after the war. They imbued Krystyna with a love of Nature, a love of beauty, of spiritual freedom and with a deep concern for culture and knowledge. She understands Life as a continual creative search for knowledge and understanding, where beauty and Nature are paramount and religion is an expression of one’s respect for Nature and people. Krystyna’s husband, Derek Pike is a mathematician and also an amateur musician. He has supported Krystyna’s development of the house, though his skills lie in the world of mathematics.
Alongside her painting, photography and art therapy, Krystyna has been lovingly restoring The Yat, keeping original features but with energy efficiency in mind. There are wood burners but underfloor heating heats the ancient flag stone floor, and soon a ground source heat pump supplies the background heat for the whole house. Plaster walls have been painted in individually designed colours, with lime wash, or casein paint sourced from a local company, specialising in traditional materials. The kitchen was designed and created together with local carpenter, Gareth Gwatkin. It is made of limed oak and is a contemporary take on traditional Radnorshire furniture.
The Yat has enabled Krystyna to turn her hand to interior design. She created the new more open plan layout for more contemporary living, yet, at the same time, uncovered some original walls and features and developed the house in a way which would enhance its original character. She has designed stained glass, mixed paint colours for bedrooms, restored old wooden floors, learnt the techniques of lime plaster, helped design the conservatory with its leaded lights and Radnorshire porch, as well as helping to design individual pieces of furniture and architectural features. Her designs included creating choosing the glass for and creating her own designs for stained glass windows.
The garden, with its ancient box hedges and mature trees, has also been one of Krystyna’s ongoing projects. She has had further terraces created in the sloping garden, adding vegetable beds, a herb garden, and a knot garden with roses. She and her husband had 1,000 trees planted on their land and are planning further developments to enhance the area. The wrought iron gates were made by a local artisan, Marcus Henke of Kington Forge, using a 17th century design chosen by Krystyna. Garden benches create spaces for people to sit and enjoy the views. In early spring snowdrops peep through the still cold ground, then crocuses and daffodils come up, as well as the primroses. Finally roses, herbs, pansies and shrubs come into flower.
Krystyna has tried to create spaces both within the house itself and in the garden to help one stop and listen, return to one’s inner rhythms in the beauty and tranquillity of the place. Krystyna has used the adage, Truth to Material, where she has tried to work with what she has, bearing in mind the purpose, or use of the object she has been designing and also taking into account its historic and environmental context. She has worked with the unique style and history of the building. It is all understated, waiting to be discovered and will be added to continually, as the house evolves to suit further requirements. It is a house, after all, that has changed many times over the centuries, from what was once possibly a 13th century hall house, to a 17th century squires’ house and now a house for contemporary living.
She hopes her guests will also feel free to use the home in a way which helps them to restore tranquillity to their busy lives, or as a stop to enjoy the beauty of the local countryside. The library is there to browse and although there is Wi-Fi, mobile phones do not work here, and so life can be experienced at a much slower pace.
The Yat now has 9 chickens providing organic eggs for our guests. Three wild Hebridean sheep 'mow' the grass in our fields and two geese are on the look out for danger, such as foxes attacking our chickens! The land is teeming with bird life of many kinds and we are happy to say that the cuckoo, now a much rarer bird, visits us each year!
Local towns provide much of interest. The hills, where sheep outnumber people, are there to enjoy. Wild horses can sometimes be seen grazing on the common that surrounds The Yat. It is a wonderful place to experience the joy of nature less disturbed by humanity. The valley is filled by wondrous birdsong. Bees and butterflies abound in the garden.
Come and enjoy!