Get to Know the Hosts of HGTV's 'Saving the Manor'
Architect Dean Poulton and real estate expert Borja De Maqua are single-handedly restoring a 5-building, 65-room Georgian manor on land once owned by King Henry VII. Here’s what you need to know about this historic-renovation power couple.
The historic, 65-room Warwickshire estate architect Dean Poulton and surveyor and former real estate agent Borja De Maqua have been renovating for the last three and a half years entered their lives suddenly, which isn't quite what you'd expect from an ancient, dilapidated property that hasn't been inhabited for a century.
“Why did we buy an estate? It’s just because we fell in love,” Borja says. “We never planned on buying this project. This just came up! We were being nosy. We went to have a look, and…” Dean finishes the sentence: “…when you fall in love, you fall in love.”
Borja agrees, “I remember [the agent] opened the doors, Dean and I looked at each other, and we just knew.”
HGTV is joining them on their project-of-a-lifetime for their new series, Saving the Manor, premiering Friday, October 7 at 10/9c. Learn more about Dean and Borja — and the magical place they’re restoring for their own family, short-term vacationers and future generations of visitors — right here.
@hgtv Borja’s guesses are as good as mine tbh. #SavingTheManor #BritishSlang #CouplesChallenge #GuessingGame ♬ British folklore Fanny Blair(990486) - 2strings
No One Else Wanted Their Dream Home
"While away on holiday, I happened to glance online at commercial properties in Warwickshire. It was then I saw that the manor house that we’d often pass on our way to work was for sale," Borja told Country Homes & Interiors. "Although the details showed just three photographs, triggering alarm bells about its condition, it piqued our interest. We couldn’t wait to view the estate, located in Coleshill, a quaint coaching town."
Dean and Borja’s instant infatuation with their property was not only unusual; it was unique. “We offered as much as we could, taking all the unknown factors into consideration,” Borja recalls. “When we heard back, hearing the offer had been accepted, we were like, Shoot! I bet we have offered too much! We were expecting a counter offer at the very least. The reality was that no one wanted to get near the place. We were the only ones that viewed it.”
Part of Their Estate Is Already Open
In May of 2021, Borja and Dean opened the Caretakers Cottage — a two-bedroom structure within the estate’s courtyard that once accommodated staff who worked at the property — to short-term renters. For the summer of 2022, they also gave guests access to all of their gardens, and they hope to open the former servants’ living quarters soon.
They’re Saving Their Own Spaces For Last
“We always planned that the manor house was going to be the icing on the cake,” Borja says. “Because [if we started restorations] with the manor house, which is where we want to be living, we’d lose a bit of interest in everything else, right?” Finishing strong also allows them to enjoy the benefits of their hands-on experience. “We’ll be improving our skills, so by the time we get to the manor house everything is going to be spot-on,” he adds.
The Couple Just Celebrated Their 10th Anniversary
Borja and Dean’s jetsetting meet-cute was thoroughly romcom-worthy. Spanish-born Borja connected with Dean, an Englishman, via GPS and dating-app good fortune. “It was a location-based app, and Borja was flying into England from Paris and I was passing by the airport at that exact time … it was just meant to be!” They met five days later, moved in together two months later and bought their first home together three months after that. The rest is history. They’ve been engaged for the past six years, and while their whirlwind projects have left them little time to plan a wedding, the trials and tribulations of their teamwork have given their life partnership a rock-solid foundation. “If you do a restoration together in a relationship — if you can survive that, you can survive anything,” Dean explains.
Borja Didn’t DIY Before He Met Dean
Though he’s a Jack of all trades these days, Borja didn’t always have a hands-on approach to real estate. “I never did anything before I met [Dean],” he laughs. “I just thought that you paid different people to do things!” “When I met [Borja], [he] couldn’t even hold a paintbrush,” Dean says. The couple is doing the vast majority of the work on their estate themselves in order to save resources for high-end finishes. “I love the fact that we’re learning to do so many more things [on this project],” Borja says. “I mean, how big is your CV now? You can do glass cutting, you can do plastering, you can do bricklaying, carpentry … you’ve got so many skills under your belt!” Dean exclaims.
Borja Became a British Citizen in 2021
Though he'd moved to England in 2011 (just in time to meet Dean), Borja didn't take the citizenship exam until last November. "I am sorting my outfit out for when I am officially a British Citizen," he joked on Instagram. "I am thinking Ginger Spice from the Spice Girls's iconic Union Jack outfit."
They See Themselves As Caretakers
Borja and Dean’s estate isn’t simply their home; they consider it their legacy. “We’re in a throwaway society; even houses now [are] only supposed to last thirty years,” Dean says. “This house has lasted a couple of hundred, and once we’re finished with it, we hope it will last another couple of hundred.”
“We were meant to save this property,” Borja adds. “I honestly think our life journey has taken us to this.”