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Turned abandoned Alpine farm into low-budget Herbal Homestead

Michelle Dresing had long dreamed of moving to the countryside where she could collect the herbs for her natural skin care business. When she and her partner Marta found a neglected house barn in the foothills of the Biellese Alps, they began a 3-year odyssey to turn it into their dream home and the production facilities for their handmade soap and aromatherapy business Eukalia.

They bought the home for “nothing” and invested mostly their own labor in doing everything themselves. When they didn’t know how to do something, they asked for help from friends in the industry and borrowed all the needed power tools. The home had been abandoned by its owners for over a decade who had once let their animals – geese and goats – roam through the first floor, so the space needed a lot of work. The women let out stress knocking down walls and peeling plaster, in the process uncovering intricate vaulted ceilings and tiles dated 1060.

The home sits at the edge of a village and has its own field and forest that the women have chosen not to mow so Michele can collect her herbs from the front yard (from dandelions to calendula), which she distills into essential oils in an artisanal distillery in the backyard. “I always dreamed of a home that would work for me.”

They created a living space in a now mostly open upstairs. Downstairs is dedicated to the business with a laboratory for soap and cream making and a production room where the product is prepped (with packaging and labels they designed). The women gave us a tour of their home, the lab, and the building they bought next door that was once the more noble building that still has intact 300-year-old chestnut flooring and ceilings. They hope to expand their space to include space for visitors and a wellness retreat.