Mandrova House

The story of a couple living synchronously with nature

By Slovenian Tourist Board

The outside of Mandrova House (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

13 km from the first small grocery shop, surrounded by very few
settlements and extensive spruce forests, populated by bears, there sits a fairy-tale wooden house.

Eva and Aljaž of Mandrova House (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

The house itself is special in so many ways. However, the essence and
the heart of it are 30 year-old Eva and Aljaž.

With extreme fondness, they have created a home for themselves  out of barren, old shells of walls and thick wooden beams from the old village school.

Mandrova House homestead (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

It might not have been smooth sailing for them, but it was more than rewarding. Since they left the city and their possible careers behind, their life got much simpler and fulfilled at the same time.

Woodworking in House Mandrova (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

They rolled up their sleeves and started working.

With the decision to use the best know-how from the past and 
combine it with modern knowledge, they embarked on a possibly treacherous journey.

Eva and Aljaž of Mandrova House (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

The "Cottage Mentality"

“The best old should be combined with the best modern. One can learn just about anything if one does not set obstacles in advance, but rather sees these obstacles as positive challenges. This is a modern version of the  cottage mentality.”

The interior of House Mandrova (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

The path was still a bit foggy for them, but the goal was crystal clear – to live in nature and with nature, totally sustainable and with their own food supply. They embarked on a satisfying life path of typical cottagers.

The interior of House Mandrova (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

With an open mind and heart they started learning carpentry from the older masters of the art around them and introduced modern principles of regenerative farming to their land. 

Sceptics at the beginning, the locals were impressed with their learning  hunger and perseverance.

Woodworking in House Mandrova (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

Systematically, they revived the traditional treatment of wood with some help from an 88-year old Mr. Anzeljc. 

He was the last professional carpenter in the area before wood handling was left to the machines after WWII.

The first bruted beams at Mandrova House (2020) by Aljaž CelarcSlovenian Tourist Board

When Mr. Anzeljc realized their motives were pure and their hunger for
knowledge was real, he even gave the carpenter’s most precious tool, the
plenkača axe, to Aljaž.

“A tool box and a pile of drying wood is what makes our dreams come true”, Aljaž says. Some of their tools are probably a century old.

Garden shed, House Mandrova (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board


Anything they found in the old building or in its surroundings, they used for and in their new house. 

Old windows were used as a greenhouse for the poultry and plant seedlings. Old wood was reclaimed and reused with great love. Eva and Aljaž even left the beams’ nail holes intact, honouring the history of old wood.

Using hand tools for woodworking (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

The only way to revive the tradition was by actually doing it. So, every bit of wood in the house was manually and, above all, lovingly processed.

"The wood is alive"

“The wood is alive and you have to let it be as it wants to be. With wood, nothing is ever perfectly perpendicular and we prefer that.”

A wooden greenhouse, House Mandrova (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

Yes, in Mandrova House, wood is worshipped. Now, after their house
is finished, Eva and Aljaž are able to make wood products, using only hand tools. 

The tree behind the house can – with some time and a lot of hard work – become just about anything: a new wall, a bench, a greenhouse,...

A wooden spatula (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

. . . a wooden spatula, . . .

Wooden shelves, House Mandrova (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

. . . or a shelf for strawberries!

Wood-burning stove (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

Only a few things in their home were bought. And even that was done with honouring the tradition. 

The wood-burning stove is modern, but designed the same as those centuries ago. It is the only heat source in the house, it bakes the bread, cooks the soup and dries the moist socks in the cold winter.

Mandrova House in winter (2020) by Aljaž CelarcSlovenian Tourist Board

By all means, winters here are truly fierce. 

Just a few kilometres away is the absolute coldest place in Slovenia, where the lowest temperature measured was -34.5 degrees Celsius.

A fence around the garden, House Mandrova (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

Thus, Eva’s and Aljaž’s growing season in the garden is extremely short. Despite that, they are able to be highly self-sufficient.

Using the method of regenerative production, they produce a significant proportion of food. 

Chickens at Mandrova House (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

They enrich the living layer of the soil with organic matter from their animals, cooperating with them.

“We observe them,” says Eva, “and try to figure out what they need. If we give them the best, they return that tenfold.” 

Pigs at Mandrova House (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

Broilers are a mobile fertilizer and mowers that contribute important microorganisms to the soil and thus revive biodiversity. Hens are willing accomplices in compost mixing.

Pigs are surface looseners, transforming the spruce forest into a pasture.

Hard at work at Mandrova House (2020) by Aljaž CelarcSlovenian Tourist Board

Now, Eva and Aljaž share a bit of their lifestyle and knowledge with others.

By organizing wood construction and regenerative 
self-sufficiency workshops, they spread their knowledge and create a community of people who want to live differently. 

House made of reused materials (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board


They just love working manually. “When hands are working, the mind is working. When you repeatedly do a chore, there is no past and no future, there is only the present,” Aljaž says.

In a defocused world of speed and stress, that must be refreshing. No wonder they say: “We are where we want to be.”

The interior of House Mandrova (2021) by Luka SveticSlovenian Tourist Board

Young creative people’s stories can be so inspiring. But Eva and Aljaž are not alone. Many more Slovenians are honouring tradition by being Crafty and creative.

Credits: Story

📣 Special thanks to Eva Pavlič-Seifert and Aljaž Celarc, Mandrova House
📲 You can see and follow them on Instagram!

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Slovenian Stories
Discover with us the most densely forested country in Europe, it's natural beauties, intangible heritage, local crafts, people and how they're all connected to nature.
View theme
Google apps