A gem in the middle of the forest
At the foot of the “Little Zschirnstein”, a 473 metre high table mountain in Saxon Switzerland, lies Kleingießhübel, a friendly district of the municipality of Rheinhardtsdorf-Schöna. In 1824 residents had a straw-roofed half-timbered house built on the land, with arched stables for draught and breeding cattle on one side, the upper half-timbered floor resting classically on wooden round arches, connected to the outside area by a staircase. In addition, there was a barn and side building with two cellars and a shearing room. All around, nature surrounds the farm – trees, fields, forests. And the imposing sandstone rocks rising from the countryside like benign sentinels.
Old farmstead reimagined as a vacation home
To this day, this little piece of land is a gem. One reason why Dörte Wolf fell in love with Saxon Switzerland on her very first visit – and stayed. In 2010, she and her husband Steffen bought the farmstead which is named after the previous owners. Thus, a lifelong dream came true. In the following years, the couple created an original vacation home, which the two of them have been renting out since 2014. Nature lovers in particular appreciate the original character of the farm, which the owners have consciously preserved.
Built with earthen clay – then and now
The half-timbered house combines masonry and log construction on the first floor in the form of a sandstone vaulted chamber (the former stables) and a timber-frame log room on the upper floor. In order to highlight these special features of the house, the couple adapted their plans for the renovation. The natural building materials of yesteryear were to be used again, especially clay earth. It was the right decision, says Dörte Wolf: “During the renovation, we already started noticing the pleasant differences to other building materials. Immediately, there was great air quality, the smell was much more pleasant, and the handling was simple. In case of unevenness or cracks, you can always re-moisten clay and smooth it out. That fascinated me.“
Cosiness inside and outside
Today, the farmhouse has slate siding, its timber framing is brown-white, and the parlour has lattice windows with green wooden shutters. The upper floor houses a vacation rental room with a pantry kitchen and small shower room as well as a full vacation apartment with eat-in kitchen, bedroom, and a bright and spacious bathroom. Light wooden floorboards and wooden beams left visible in the clay plaster provide homey charm. Each wall has a different subtle colour. Furnishings, lovingly combined from old and new, complete the cosy ambience. Nature adds the finishing touch: Five hectares of wooded land on a slope await behind the 3,600-square-meter farm. Behind the barn, there is an annex open on one side with glass church-style windows. From there, guests can look out onto a fire pit and the camping meadow behind it, where travellers are allowed to pitch their tents: The May Farm is a partner of the Forststeig Elbsandstein trekking route. Every year, on the last Sunday in May, the Wolfs host a farm festival as a part of Open-House Day for half-timber houses. Other local residents participate as well, putting on a farmers‘ market.Read more »
Renovating true to the original – with clay earth
Ecological considerations were the first priority in the construction done on the vacation apartment as well as in the renovation of the vacation rental room. For the restoration of the vacation home, all gypsum-plaster walls in the vaulted chamber rooms were removed. The wooden beams were left visible and the spaces in this wooden framework were filled with CLAYTEC Clay Blocks Light and plastered with clay-earth plaster. The result: natural, breathable walls with an agricultural-estate flair. On the inside of the exterior walls, CLAYTEC Clay Blocks Light form the base for a space-saving wall heating system. This was plastered with clay earth and each wall was painted in a different shade with CLAYFIX clay paint. In the sandstone vaulted chamber, a common room and a handicapped-accessible bathroom were created with partition walls made using CLAYTEC Drywall Clayboards. CLAYTEC Clay Undercoat Plaster with Straw was applied over the drywall. There as well, the couple added colour accents with CLAYFIX clay paint.