Remaking The Point

When the pioneering owners of Gondwana decided it was time to move off the game reserve to an urban centre with schools, they were not keen to forsake the wilderness completely. The Point House on a sprawling countryside property in Knysna was a perfect fit and a fun refurbishment project.

WORDS Clare van Rensburg   PHOTOGRAPHS Melanie Maré & Vanessa van Vreden

Wendy Rutherfoord felt chills down her spine when she and husband Mark first drove up the sweeping shaded driveway of The Point House. “We fell in love with the spectacular garden overlooking the Knysna lagoon and its mature indigenous trees, and felt an instant connection to the expansive property and century-old house,” says Wendy.

The historic Point House’s imposing square facade expresses its age and grandeur. Beautifully restored lead plate glass windows offer a view not only into the home, but straight through to the garden beyond, including pale purple Wisteria flowers shading the rear courtyard. The house is shielded on three sides by tall trees – ancient yellowwoods, gnarled milkwoods, ironwoods, stinkwood and coral trees.

Despite the challenging task of renovating a 500m₂ manor house, Wendy immediately saw potential to create a more modern family home. Having spent the past 12 years developing Gondwana Game Reserve outside Mossel Bay from scratch, the couple was no stranger to an ambitious project.

Built in 1930 in French Chateau style by prominent Kenyan professional hunter James Twigg, The Point House was ornately and formally decorated with dark stencilled walls, gold trimmings and heavy curtains when the 
Rutherfoords bought it. While proud of the home’s heritage, they were excited to introduce a more casual contemporary style suitable for a young family. “We loved the bones of the house with its high ceilings, large windows and beautiful mouldings but wanted to remove the heavy, ornate and formal look. The first thing we did was take down every curtain to allow light to flood into the space.”

Wendy says the house was in very good shape to begin with. “The previous owners lovingly restored the house and had updated the electrics, plumbing, roofing and windows, so we just had to give the place a little facelift.”

The main remodelling challenge was the position of the original kitchen, which was completely separate in the back of the house. Wendy wanted the kitchen to link to the living area to create a central space for open-plan 
family living, cooking, dining and relaxing. “I’m most proud of how we reconfigured the spaces. By knocking a wall down, closing off some doorways and repurposing rooms, we have managed to achieve a social flow downstairs and all the bedrooms tucked away together privately upstairs.”

The couple repainted the exterior in a soft stone colour to complement the terracotta-tiled roof. Pale green-grey window frames surround the charming plate glass windows.

The red Oregon pine floors were sanded and lightened, while a refreshing coat of pale sage green paint on interior walls creates flow through the house and reinforces the connection to the garden.

Mark is exceptionally passionate about the garden. “The garden was beautiful but very overgrown, so we lifted the bottom branches of many of the trees and shrubs to see the beauty beyond and through them. When we bought the house we joked it would be our third child, and we have enjoyed bringing out its potential.”

Laid with homemade paving stones, the front courtyard leads to raised vegetable and flowerbeds, and a bubbling water feature. 
The sprawling front lawn encompasses a large swimming pool and open air pool house, which was built using the timber trusses reclaimed from the estate’s old pergola. The front entrance leads to an informal reception room and sets the tone for the home. A light breeze off the lagoon blows through the open doorway, bringing the scent of summer flowers. Four metre-high ceilings draw the eye up to the original cornice mouldings.

A compact family lounge boasts a beautifully remodelled textured cement fireplace articulated with an antique wooden mirror, displaying Wendy’s aptitude for marrying period architectural features with ultra-modern finishes. A luxurious family kitchen centres around a large island topped with pale green Caesarstone quartz. Tailor-made oak bar stools by local furniture designers Meyer von Wielligh add a natural touch.

A short walk leads to an outside back courtyard where the family dine al fresco beneath an arbour trailing a mass of purple Wisteria. “This whole plant grows from a single gnarled root; the kids climb on the twisting branches and bumble bees visit the drooping flowers while we eat beneath,” Wendy says.

The stairs exemplify how the imposing décor of the house’s previous life was lightened; “We took off the heavy carpets and stair rods, and left the floors fresh and sanded. We added loose sisal rugs on the landing to create 
warmth.” A huge plate glass window overlooking the back garden is one of Wendy’s favourite viewpoints. It offers a sweeping vista of a massive yellowwood tree and beneath it the quirky Western-inspired chicken coop and rabbit hutch: “I often pause at this window to watch the kids playing and climbing, or to call them in.”

The upstairs area was renovated to replace an open lounge with a third bedroom for six-year-old Benjamin. The original antique display cabinets are packed with colourful toys and stuffed animals.

Next door, nine-year-old Lucy’s room is painted a pale blush pink and features twin four-poster beds painted in antique blue with cheeky bright bed fabrics. The poles were hand-turned by Knysna-based Malawian craftsman Kamik Malindi as a birthday gift. 
Outside the window, the boughs of a large Jacaranda tree add to the fairy tale atmosphere, bearing vivid lilac blossoms in summer.

The master bedroom is positioned in the west side of the house, where the bed occupies a central position in the room. There were no showers in the house when the Rutherfoords bought it. So, a small bedroom was converted 
to an en-suite master bathroom featuring a double walk-in shower with a superb view through the glass partition to the Brenton headland. Every centimetre of the two-hectare property is used to full effect. Mark describes the garden as their “most treasured asset’’. Rope swings, hammocks and tree houses are scattered throughout the property. “And when the kids are not using it, the local wildlife do,” he says. Knysna Loeries cough in the forest, herons nest in the bushes, geese swim in their pool and a troop of baboons sweep in to raid their guava, plum and fig trees in summer.

The Rutherfoords adore their Knysna suburban retreat, claiming it offers the best of both worlds; “It has the privacy of the countryside in a town setting,” says Wendy. The couple chose Knysna for its community feeling and excellent private school, Oakhill.

“Having spent so much time living in a game reserve, we were not keen to forsake the wilderness and privacy completely,” the couple agree. The Point House offers a perfect compromise – a tranquil and secluded haven 
to work from home and raise a family. “We have found that since we moved off the reserve, we have become far more productive in our business,” says Mark, adding he is happy to commute the 90-minute drive to Gondwana three days a week. Mark sums up the sentiment of many local residents when he says; “It is a challenge to be able to live and work in the Garden Route, but a real privilege.”

DIRECTORY
Kitchen refurbishment: Garden Route Cabinets 083 236 7968
Countertops: multistone.co.za
Furniture: meyervonwielligh.co.za
Interior design and décor: Urban Jungle 082 457 2270
Paint: Paintsmiths George 044 871 1111
Bed poles: Kamik Malindi 073 610 0815 kmalindi10@gmail.com

Set in stone

After more than a decade in the United States, Adelaide Claassen and Will Douglas brought their son Xander home to the Garden Route. Their Fancourt home celebrates outdoor living at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains and features a unique fireplace of solid rock from the Klein Karoo.

WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPHS Desmond Scholtz

“We wanted our return to South Africa to be a homecoming experience. We wanted to live outdoors, enjoy golf and feel safe – the Garden Route, and Fancourt in particular, offered all those things,” says Will.

They chose a plot between the eighth and ninth holes of the Outeniqua golf course, which offered great views and only one neighbour on either side. The house design had to emphasise space and light, while also incorporating the golf course and mountain views.

They also wanted a central, open-plan living area with a big fireplace and a step-out indoor-outdoor living space that could make the most of a beautiful day yet ensure privacy from golfers on the course and be protected from the elements if necessary.

The result is an L-shaped, double volume space with large windows and fold-up doors, which open to a comfortable outdoor living area, adjacent to the indoor living space, kitchen and entertainment centre. “The space works well for living and socialising, as Xander and his friends can move between the indoor fun and outside to their hearts’ content. The entire estate is their playground,” says Adelaide.

“Fancourt building specifications include a thatch roof, which we were unfamiliar with. While really beautiful in its own way, it wasn’t necessarily our taste but we decided to embrace it and we are happy with the overall effect. We kept the thatch open everywhere except in the bedroom, where we installed ceilings for a more contemporary and clean look,” says Will.

The interior design captures Adelaide’s creativity and vision. “As soon as we bought the land, I started compiling a scrapbook with photos and ideas of what I envisioned for the house. I stuck to that throughout the project. The result is exactly how I envisioned it, strikingly unique and homely.”

The colour palate is shades of grey with white, red and metallic colours – introduced in the foyer using monochromatic patterned tiles and accent pieces, leading into a minimalist passage with light detail. Around the corner, the open-plan double-volume living area is impressive.

Focal to the living space is a unique, specially sourced solid rock fireplace that can be appreciated from all angles, which Adelaide had in mind from the start. “I wanted a solid rock fireplace – not one of those fake, cement things that look like rock, but the real deal. In my mind, the Klein Karoo was rock country, and with some help I located the perfect rock on a farm outside Oudsthoorn. I think the farmer was a bit surprised, but he was willing to sell me the rock – the logistics of transporting and installing the 2.5-ton rock were a bit more complicated and required some serious planning,” says Adelaide.

Space for the gas fittings had to be cut into the rock, and the gas line fitted without damaging the pipes. The rock had to be forklifted into the house before the roof went on and positioned and balanced with bricks to create a level and stable surface. “It was complicated but worth the overall effect, which is dramatic, with a real appreciation for the beauty and texture of the rock itself.”

Adelaide also wanted a solid stone basin, smoothed and polished on the inside but rough on the outside, which would showcase the multi-coloured stone of the Southern Cape. At the Outeniqua Farmers’ market in George she met Michael Nyoni, a Knysna-based stone sculptor displaying his art and water features. “I knew immediately Michael could turn my idea into reality. We found a perfect sized discarded rock at a road excavation site.

“The finished basin was a revelation, we had no idea in advance of what the rock would reveal – the unique colour and markings are beautiful and so much more than what I expected.”

The rock fireplace and basin were such a success Adelaide decided to base a business idea around it, and has subsequently launched Signature Stones, which sources and makes bespoke solid rock décor pieces.

Adelaide also had specific ideas for contemporary chandeliers in her dining room, which she drew up and had made by a local blacksmith. The rounded sofas in the lounge were custom-made by Adelita du Toit of In Touch Furniture in Mossel Bay, based on designs Adelaide had seen online.

Will’s second-storey home office has the best mountain view and a mature weeping willow on the lawn outside. “Every morning I look at the amazing view and appreciate the tranquillity of the setting. In the States I was co-owner of a management consulting firm and the pace was really hectic. When we returned I was determined to start right. Living here gives me the opportunity to run a world-class business, but on my own terms,” he says.

“There are certain aspects of the States, such as the variety of shops and products, that we miss but we never really felt at home in the same way as we do now. Returning here feels like the beginning of a new journey and we are glad we chose the Garden Route to lead us there,” says Adelaide.

DIRECTORY
Builder: Outeniqua Building Projects 076 976 8411
Custom wood doors and dining room table:
Kinghorn and Sons fisherking@mweb.co.za
Custom furniture: intouchfurniture.co.za
Aluminium windows and doors: Johan Sims 082 782 5093
Thatch roof: megaqualitythatching.co.za
Kitchen cupboards: Gerrit Marra 083 563 4480
Countertops: multistone.co.za
Stone fire place and basin: signaturestones.co.za
Interior colours and paints: Builders at Home 076 152 2527

Bonjour Wilderness

No jetlag, a love of sport and the diverse natural surroundings of the Garden Route were among the many reasons a French couple chose Wilderness to build their dream holiday home – creating a sanctuary quite different from their Paris city lifestyle.

WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPHS Desmond Scholtz

François and Marie Hisquin’s journey to the dunes of Wilderness started with a 2010 World Cup road trip and golf holiday.

“My husband and our son, Thibault, were driving from golf course to golf course between games and were on their way to a semi-final in Port Elizabeth when they came upon Wilderness beach. François immediately thought he would love to have a house here,” says Marie.

In April 2014 the couple saw a house for sale on the internet, which they thought would fit the bill and decided to take a trip to South Africa. “The house was really beautiful and well-situated, but the plot was too small for our needs. There was another house for sale nearby – this time we liked the plot but the house was very old and we decided to knock it down and start from scratch. We kept the original house’s name, Meetsnoere, which refers to an old way of measuring land, and the associated implication that you were fortunate to have been allocated good land,” says Marie.

Local architect Eddie da Silva was briefed to design a house in which all the bedrooms would have an ocean view. “If you opened the front door, I wanted the sea view to take your breath away. You had to be able to eat, sleep and have a shower with a view.”

The Hisquins also expected their outdoor-loving, golf-playing friends to visit often, so the house needed several bedrooms, sitting areas and a long dining room table. A separate downstairs apartment for grown-up children, an office and soundproof media room were also required. Eddie’s design maximises the view long before you get to the front door. At first glance, as you enter from the street, the glass box design allows an almost uninterrupted ocean view through the house. The swimming pool wraps around the house on two sides, extending the blue-green into the blue sea horizon.

The north-south integration of the design also ensures the optimal use of sunlight and warmth often absent in south-facing seaside homes in the region. The flat roof, stark grey walls and accent walls of stone contribute to a contemporary yet earthy design. “I liked that the design let nature in and – while the ocean is the overwhelming first impression – when you start looking around, you see green too, not just blue. On the outdoor patios we incorporated artificial grass to reiterate the garden feel from the front of the house,” says Marie.

When choosing interiors, Marie wanted design elements and décor to be South African. “It made no sense to me to import from overseas when there is so much local and authentic talent. Our family really likes animals and wanted the vibrant culture of Africa to shine through, but understated and with simplicity in mind.”

In contrast to the house’s dark exterior, the interior had to be light, with neutral colours and textured fabrics. “I was in no hurry to decorate the walls – I wanted to live in the house for a while and find the right pieces as I came across them. The house now is like a semi-completed canvas and it is fun to finish it in my own time.”

On her journey to decorate the interior of her home, Marie discovered Wilderness artist Peter Pharoah. The double-volume wall supporting semi-floating stairs detail on the northern side of the house lent itself to an especially large piece that would be visible on first sight. “Peter came to the house to get a feel for the house. I wanted a modern piece in black and white but with bright African colours coming through.” The artist incorporated the greens and blues of sea and grass, and the result is a show-stopping 2,4m x 2,4m painting that has become a favourite signature piece. Pendant lights, with jumbled multi-coloured wiring, create a fun, bird’s nest effect and illuminate the painting at night.

Another favourite feature of the Hisquins is the slate stone wall that leads into the house, creating texture alongside smooth, white-painted walls.

When the house was completed, the family celebrated in style by throwing a party for 50 friends who flew in from Europe for the occasion. “For many, it was a first visit to South Africa or the Garden Route. They all loved the house and the place, and said they would return. The house lets nature in and makes the most of the exceptional South African weather.”

Marie says spending time in their Wilderness home is very different from their lives in Paris. “I love village life. In Paris you have to get dressed up to go to the shops for bread and milk, here you can go barefoot in beachwear. There is a wonderful freedom to living here. When we are here, we spend a lot of time outdoors, walking on the beach and in the forest. This place has everything: mountain, sea, forest, rivers and the semi-desert Karoo.

“People can have a lot to say about safety and security, but I can honestly say I never feel afraid.

“The easy access to George Airport, a 20-minute drive, makes travelling to other places in Southern Africa easy. It is not unthinkable to plan a quick trip to Mozambique or Victoria Falls from here.”

She says as keen golfers their friends were surprised they had not chosen to live on a golf estate, but estate living felt too formal for what they had in mind for a holiday home – “and anyway, golf is not the only thing we do”, says Marie.

“The Wilderness home is our perfect escape. While we don’t do it often enough, it is a jetlag-free overnight trip from Paris to Cape Town, and a quick hop from there to George. While it is mostly a holiday home for us now, I hope when François’ work no longer demands so much time and travel, that we will be able to spend more and more time here. This is truly a wonderful place.”

DIRECTORY
Architect: Eddie da Silva and Associates 082 895 2760
Contractor: DMC Developments 082 877 1802
Engineers: DMS Structures 076 105 4540
Kitchen/selected furniture: meyervonwielligh.co.za
Selected furniture: Bespoke Design O44 873 2454
Blinds: Keens and Kenmar 044 871 2011
Tiles and sanitary ware: Stiles 044 871 3222
Aluminium: Aluminium Wise 082 372 3660
Landscaping: Beleaf Landscape Design 083 415 6691

,

Open house

“I’ve been thinking…” he said. “Oh no…” she said. 
And so an eclectic open plan house on the Seven Passes road outside Hoekwil became a weekend bistro where the kuier is as good as the food.

WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPHS Desmond Scholtz

When Julio and Susan Agrella first saw the property, it was so overgrown with wattle it was 
difficult to see the mountain on the doorstep, but the couple recognised its potential right away.

“At school our son, also named Julio, told everyone his dad bought an estate with four houses and three cars. I had to explain the ‘estate’ was an abandoned smallholding, the ‘houses’ a workman’s cottage and dilapidated outbuildings, and the cars rusted wrecks dumped there,” Julio Snr says with a grin.

On the stoep of their barn-like, double-volume face brick home, the wood-fired pizza oven sizzles as the sun sets over the Outeniqua Mountains. Kids play on the lawn beside a fish dam and among fruit trees and veggie boxes. Four Weimeraner dogs momentarily go ballistic when Susan walks to the budgie cage.

The couple bought the property in 2000 and spent time there on and off until 2011, when they packed up in Cape Town and moved into the renovated worker’s cottage on the small holding. After clearing the alien vegetation, they started thinking about what they wanted in a house.

“We had some ideas about living in a church, or something that resembled a church. We liked stained glass windows, high ceilings and the idea of one large space made up of grouped sitting areas,” says Susan. “It also had to be large enough to house the furniture, art and trinkets we had collected on our travels. We are ‘crows’ and like to collect things with character and a story.”

The house design grew organically with their ideas of a place that would reflect their easy-going lifestyle, space for Susan’s leather workshop and her fencing exercises, a large kitchen and a wide stoep where time could be whiled away in easy conversation. They called it Celeiro de Agrella, which means ‘Agrella’s barn’ in Portuguese.

Not long after the couple moved into their church-like barn, Julio sat on the stoep with a cup of coffee appreciating the view and thought what a pity it was that others could not enjoy it too. Then he started thinking…

Surprisingly, his wife was quite open to the idea of sharing their house and hospitality with others. Susan, an instinctive and innovative cook, liked the idea of opening their house to visitors for cake and coffee during the summer holidays. The turnout far exceeded their expectations and the humble teas initially intended when they opened doors in December 2013 turned into three-course Sunday lunches – but by appointment only and on their own terms.

“When leaving here, people feel as if they have visited friends at their house, which of course they have,” says Susan. “We only take one sitting per meal and never overbook. Initially we felt too bad to turn people away, but learnt the hard way that overbooking is not worth the experience for the guests or us. It is important for us that it feels intimate and like a second home. If people are going to drive more than 20km from the N2 to get to us, it must be a destination worth lingering at.”

The entrance to the Agrellas’ house reflects Julio’s Portuguese heritage and interest in the icons of the different denominations within the Christian faith including Catholic, Protestant, Russian Orthodox and Ethiopian artefacts.

Patrons are greeted at the door by an apron-clad Julio and Willem Smith, a long-time friend and experienced restaurateur who helped the Agrellas set up the bistro and stayed on to host and serve.

Guests are seated at tables in the family lounge, on the stoep and lawns. They are welcome to don any of the many hats on the hat stand, and read the books and magazines on shelves all over the house.

The décor is cheeky, imaginative and homely – a fake rat peaks from an old upholstered chair, a butter churner shares space with books on a shelf and parts of a piano are nailed to the wall. Susan’s fencing gear and swords hang alongside works by world-renowned leather artist Beatrix 
Bosch. Retro couches are covered in leather and velvet, and Persian carpets adorn rugged floors. If you pay attention to detail, you may also spot mounted dentures, a dodgy garden gnome, sewing machines and Russian samovars.

Julio and Willem walk among the tables and, between orders, take some time to chat. “While there are always new faces around, locals support us throughout the year, and in summer particularly we are booked at least two weeks in advance.”

Another summer treat is the fish dam in which kids, and even dads, have been known 
to swim. “We just hose them off when they are done,” says Julio.

The menu varies from week to week depending on what is available in the garden, specialist shops and the Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market outside Sedgefield, where most of the ingredient shopping is done. Susan’s innovative salads are a case in point. “A salad need not be predictable when there are peaches, nectarines and pomegranates growing outside the door. It is fun to combine flavours as we go along; whatever is in the garden is probably going to land up on 
your plate.”

Even dessert promises to be interesting. Homemade ice cream flavours include date and chai, and red fig and Amarula. The cheesecake is like nothing you have tasted before: butternut dark chocolate, fresh pear and white chocolate, orange and white chocolate, salted caramel, cardamom and saffron, and mint, lemon and smoked chili. Susan has also been collecting teas from around the world, and hosts an unforgettable tea tasting with pickings from nearly 50 flavours.

In October 2014, Julio and Susan asked their French qualified chef son, Julio Junior, to join the Bistro Celeiro team. “Junior’s experience in Europe has given us even more reason to experiment, using methods and tricks he has picked up in his studies and work.”

More recently the family extended their invitation into their home to Fridays in summer when a pizza oven is fired up. In addition to standard Italian toppings, the team has devised innovative gourmet pizzas topped with imported cheeses, cured meats, fresh herbs and more. Burgers and quesadillas are also on the Friday night menu.

As if two nights a week of visitors are not enough, the Agrellas are likely to agree to hosting small functions on Saturdays. “We have hosted weddings, a funeral and birthday parties. It is a privilege to share profound moments in other people’s lives and a compliment that they feel comfortable to do so in what is essentially somebody else’s house,” says Susan.

BISTRO CELEIRO
Open Fridays (except winter) for pizza, burgers and quesadillas 
from 4pm onwards.
Open Sundays for á-la-carte 
lunch from noon. Booking is essential and 
recommended long in advance. 044 850 1026
Bistro Celeiro is not licensed, but also don’t charge corkage for glasses and ice.
Get there: turn inland from the N2 at the 
Hoekwil turn-off east of Wilderness. Drive about 
19km and look out for signage on the right.

Filled with love

The heart behind the internationally known Sabrina Love Foundation, Plettenberg Bay interior designer Suzy Lubner’s home is intricately woven around the story of her family.

WORDS Colleen Blaine PHOTOGRAPHS Vanessa Van Vreden

Seated in a large fuchsia armchair looking out over the ocean at Robberg Beach End, Suzy Lubner chats to South while her daughter Gabriella potters around the kitchen, baking delicious chocolate brownies.

Talking to Suzy is like curling up with a great book on a rainy Sunday – you don’t want it to end. Her warm stories reveal her tremendous passion for life, family, love and meaning. “We always knew that Plettenberg Bay was a place, a space, which we would spend our lives in,” says Suzy.

It was just a matter of time and patience, waiting for the perfect property to come around. Having visited Plett regularly in their early years together, staying at husband Tony’s parents’ house, the couple set about finding the perfect place for their own home.

They were initially drawn to The Crags, mostly because of Suzy’s passion for horses and their combined love of open spaces and nature. However, it didn’t take much to change her mind when Tony discovered a plot of land tucked away in the corner of Robberg beach, framed by the Robberg Nature Reserve. Tony discovered the property while surfing at the famous Wreck surfing spot. As he looked up, he saw a ‘for sale’ sign and knew he had found the place Suzy would love.

They were still living in Johannesburg at the time but started building their new home – a place where they could provide a better environment for their daughter Sabrina, who was suffering from a rare bone disorder. “We wanted to bring Sabrina here so her little lungs could breathe cleaner air, so she could see the sea every day and live the life that we wanted for her. We knew the second we walked into the house that we were finally home and we never wished to be anywhere else again. We knew our other daughters, Emma and Gabriella, would love it too.”

Sadly, less than two years later Sabrina died and their new home offered them shelter through the hardest days of their lives. “I never wanted to leave that house – the house that Sabrina had lived in, the house that held our hearts,” Suzy explains.

However, when the plot in front of theirs became available, the Lubners sold their first Plett home to buyers who would become life-long friends. Their new house boasts an endless sea view and embodies everything the family, including Sabrina, is about.

With a similar layout to the first house, they once again brought in architect Paolo Viotti, who shares a strong respect for this part of the world as well as an awareness of his footprint.

Being an interior designer, Suzy was thrilled to begin designing her new home. She and Tony travelled to Bali, a favourite holiday destination of theirs, to buy as many items as possible to bring Suzy’s unique vision for the house to life.

The house blends into the environment around it, mimicking the colours of a piece of dried bark Suzy found and the surrounding fynbos. She says almost every item in the house has some meaning to her – from the heavy carved Indonesian doors in each room and the eclectic mix of furniture to the coconut palm supporting beams and the sandstone carvings that mirror each other from three places in the home. From the rough marble floor tiles that Suzy says were the “scraggliest we could find” to the volcanic rock tiles around the fireplace, everything in the home contributes to a sense of peace and contentment.

The décor theme is the ‘circle of life’. “It is the same with all the homes I have been lucky enough to work on; they all must have a meaning, a connection to the people who are going to live there, a generosity of spirit.

“I realise many of the places I design and decorate are places the owners yearn to come to, this makes it easier to visualise them. I like to see my work as all about the nurturing of spaces. At the same time everything in the house must have a purpose, a use; nothing is too precious to be used but rather to be enjoyed.”

Suzy’s interior design career started in Johannesburg while she was working for well-known interior designer Stephen Falcke. It was with him that she began to realise her passion for creating beautiful spaces and soon after leaving to have Sabrina, she founded her still very successful design company, Eccentrics.

When asked how often an interior designer redesigns her own home, Suzy says she considers her own space perfect the way it is. “However, I am the eternal gatherer so it becomes more about layering rather than redesigning.”

She has a list too long to mention of favourite and sentimental pieces, but highlights paintings of her daughters; statuettes of girls and angels scattered throughout the home, the reflection pool alongside her office and play room; and the clay footprints of her daughters.

Suzy’s home speaks volumes about her love for family, her kindness and generosity of spirit, and embodies the warmth and peace she exudes.

CONTACT
Eccentrics Interior Design
044 533 0111
 
The Sabrina Love Foundation
Suzy and Tony Lubner’s daughter Sabrina was born with a rare bone disorder. After she died shortly before her seventh birthday, the couple started the Sabrina Love Foundation, which cares for children with special needs in the Plettenberg Bay area and beyond. One of the foundation’s main charitable events is the annual Sabrina Love Challenge, a multi-sport event that attracts thousands of participants from across the country to Plettenberg Bay, in December. 044 533 3130 www.sabrinalove.co.za

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Solar flair

When Pierre Villain and Peter Bloy came upon a 17ha hillside property outside Great Brak River, they saw an ideal opportunity for a cluster of eco-friendly housing among pristine fynbos and indigenous forest.

WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPHS Desmond Scholtz

Looking for a change after the tropical surroundings in KwaZulu-Natal and a break from work, geologist Peter Bloy convinced his partner, retired French property developer Pierre Villain, it was time for a road trip. The pair packed their bags and headed south along the coast – and never looked back.

“By the time we got to Plettenberg Bay, we knew we wanted to make the Garden Route our new home. In addition to the utter beauty and restfulness, the feeling of being surrounded by nature was overwhelming,” says Peter.

Starting with some serious downtime – six months of doing as little as possible – in Nature’s Valley, Pierre and Peter set out to look for a place that would meet the practicalities of Peter’s working life when he returned to work.

“As a geologist specialising in mining software and technology, I spend much of my time on mines around the globe, and while the Plettenberg Bay area was really healing to our souls, I needed to be close to an airport with regular flights.”

After renting properties in and around Great Brak River, they discovered an open erf in Voorbrug, which they bought in 2004. “I grew up in the wide open spaces of KwaZulu-Natal, so the open feel of this place was appealing. It is only 15 minutes’ drive from the airport along the R102 and five minutes to Great Brak village, yet we are surrounded by nature, with wild animals such as grysbok, bushbuck and porcupine, and prolific bird life.”

Pierre adds: “The property was ideally situated but we found it too big for just us, and wanted to share it with a few others, but in a non-invasive manner and with environmentally sustainable principles in mind.”

From the start there were some non-negotiable factors to take into account, including ensured privacy through the use of existing and planted vegetation, and stands cleverly positioned far from each other with minimal building footprints. Natural animal migration corridors could not be blocked with fencing and all the homes had to have rainwater harvesting and operate fully on solar power. “The idea was that like-minded people would buy, design and build their own homes but with the understanding that the buildings should blend into the environment. The eventual seven homeowners will form an association to manage property-related matters.”

They set about sub-dividing and rezoning the property from one residential stand to seven predetermined 1-3ha smallholdings with specific footprints. The surrounding areas were rezoned to nature reserve (open space three) status. Their second mission was to return the wattle-infested erf to pristine fynbos and Afromontane forest, an on-going task that they now have in hand. “The initial clearing was a nightmare, but maintenance is easy as long as you ensure new saplings are pulled out after it rains, while they are still very small. We are also part of the Great Brak Heights Ratepayers’ Association and are working hard towards reducing alien invaders on all properties in the area, in cooperation with the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the Mossel Bay Fire Department,” says Pierre.

Choosing the spot for their own house proved more difficult than they expected. The property stretches over hills and into an indigenous forested valley. Some of the sites are defined by typical mountain fynbos and have views of the bay towards Mossel Bay and beyond. Others are wrapped in forest, which lends an entirely different atmosphere. Peter and Pierre eventually decided on the sunnier site with the view.

Building on the far-out hillside was more complicated than they originally anticipated. “The first hurdle was electricity supply from town. The logistics would have amounted to exorbitant costs and we just didn’t consider it essential in a world of alternative and renewable energy. We made the decision that all seven properties would have to be solar and the eco-cluster concept grew from there.”

By default they found themselves pioneers of the 100% solar concept in the region and had to learn by trial and error. “We discovered the angle of our house – which was positioned to maximise the view and lies along the natural escarpment – was not at the correct angle to the sun, so the solar panels could not go on the roof of the house as would normally be the case. We had to build an additional structure for the panels, which provided an ideal shaded spot for a small aviary where I now breed indigenous birds.

“We were ably and patiently assisted by Rheebok-based Danie Pieterse from Groen Energie (Green Energy) and we are so impressed with the fact that our entire house is fitted with LED lights yet pulls less than 200 Watt of energy,” says Pierre.

While George-based architect Brian Stokes of Brink Stokes Mkhize designed the house, Pierre took charge of the interior design. Several interior and exterior walls were constructed with locally sourced stone and walls were painted with a mixture that includes soil from the property. A water reservoir was built underneath the house and deck.

Various types of wood, sourced locally and from overseas, were used throughout on floors, walls and the outside deck.

A major interior feature is a timber staircase, made from poplar sourced in Oudsthoorn. The elegant piece was designed and built by respected woodsman Div de Villiers. “While Pierre insists the curved shape of the staircase was inspired by an arum lily, we tease him that it looks more like the spine of a dinosaur,” Peter says with a smile.

The finishing touches were provided by Pierre and Peter’s diverse art collection, which includes several sculptures, pop and abstract art. “We don’t really favour a particular style and buy what we like rather than what is trendy, although subconsciously there is a strong nature theme throughout,” says Peter.

Gardening is limited to the immediate surroundings of the house and focuses on water-wise, mostly indigenous species, including large specimens of aloe and yellowwood trees for long-term forested privacy. “We consider the surrounding rehabilitated fynbos as our primary garden – it is what is meant to be here.”

Contact
Property sales enquiries:
Gavin Bloy
Magnum Properties
082 497 0074
gb@magnumprops.co.za
 
Danie Pieterse
Groen Energie, Rheebok
083 459 3944
danie@groen-energie.net
 
Brink Stokes Mkhize Architects Landscape Architects and Urban Planners
044 874 5054 (George office)
www.bsmm.co.za

First published in Spring 2015

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Eclectic inspiration

When world-renowned leather artist Beatrix Bosch decided to retire to George, a typical retirement cottage was never an option. Instead she consulted long-time friend, architect Ernest Harper, to design and build a small yet inspired house in the Groenkloof Retirement Village where she has lived since September 2014.

 WORDS Louise Venter PHOTOGRAPHS Melanie Maré

Beatrix, aged 80, who pioneered leather art in South Africa and received international acclaim for her often monumental leather wall hangings – such as the 20m-long Constellation of Power commissioned for Anglo American – has never been someone to do things on a small scale.

She describes her new home as “a comfortable little scrapyard room” in which she used all the leftover bits and pieces from her career and life.

Leftover leathers were used to cover cushions, ottomans and bathroom cabinets, while larger pieces, such as a whole elephant trunk, was given new life in one of six leather panels she made especially for the new house. A paint-splattered backdrop became a tablecloth, her old dye trough was transformed into a basin and an old piece of wood is being carved into a sculpture.

“I have always had an interest in architecture and for me a home must have warmth, it must be a friendly, comfortable little cocoon,” Beatrix says as she hands me a glass of red wine over a 5.5m-long ironwood table, which her late husband, Dr JL (Bossie) Bosch, made by hand.

Bossie’s remarkable table is one of the pieces of furniture she wanted to keep as most of his handiwork, including several driftwood sculptures, were sold. I wonder how many plates of Beatrix’s legendary meals were served at this table over the years, as they were known to entertain up to 100 guests at any given time at their house on The Dune in Wilderness, where they lived since 1969.

Beatrix smiles as she recalls those times, but is also quick to tell me that she has had enough of that. The tranquillity and privacy of her new surroundings with its view of the Outeniqua Mountains in the distance is a welcome change after a full life and a busy career.

“Sometimes I miss the sea, but here I see the mountains. I have never really looked at the mountains before. When the sun sets they look as if someone has painted red stripes across them. I love the rural quietness here,” she says.

The rustic tranquillity of the environment seems to have been translated to the house, for despite its smooth, open-plan design and modern finishing, the interior of the house is permeated with warmth and a quiet earthiness, which is further enhanced by the eclectic mix of furniture and the smell and use of leather and wood throughout.

Perhaps the most surprising element of the house is its unassuming face brick exterior, which is modestly similar to the other homes in the retirement village.

Seen from outside, the only indication that the house may be more than meets the eye is a slightly raised roof, for which Beatrix had to obtain special permission, and the fact that the house was built over two plots.

Several interesting garden features – such as orange tiles hiding in a flower bed, a variety of interesting pots by Dina Prinsloo, leather and wood decorations and some enormous aloes – all hint at Beatrix’s distinctive style, leading one to the front door.

The house was planned down to the very last millimetre, complete with 120 drawers and a courtyard.

A primary design consideration was accommodating Beatrix’s personal art collection, which includes contemporary ceramics by her sister, Christina Bryer, pottery by Esias Bosch (and about 30 other potters), a painting by Willie Lottering, Zakkie Eloff’s wildlife art, a fibreglass sculpture by Willie Schmidt, an original Eduardo Villa (a gift) and Beatrix’s favourite piece, a kiaat sculpture by Freida Ollemans. “I think we ended up building an art gallery more than a house,” Beatrix chuckles.

The six leather panels she made to cover the house’s huge glass windows were designed to be complete art works in themselves, but the panels also form a coherent composition when they are all open or when less than six show.

As with her other leather works, their craftsmanship illustrates the masterful way in which Beatrix is able to work her medium with the self-taught techniques she developed over 45 years.

“I always find inspiration in the medium itself, the leather. You have a given thing and from that you make something. You work with the leather’s inherent flaws and textures. In a sense my work is instinctive. I had to adapt to what the leather would allow me to do,” Beatrix explains.

The panels were her final leather art works. At 80 it has become physically too challenging to make them. She doesn’t want to work commercially anymore and is now creative purely for personal enjoyment, experimenting mostly with digital graphic design.

It was Beatrix’s love for design and architecture that started her career as a full-time artist in 1968 when she envisaged a house built from glass and natural rock in Nelspruit, where she and Bossie lived at the time.

With a degree in Home Economics (obtained from Stellenbosch University in 1955) to provide the necessary sewing know-how she had a notion to make a bedspread for the new house from leftover pieces of leather she had bought. The bedspread later turned into a wall hanging, which she sold for R100. The Nelspruit house never happened, but Beatrix’s career took off as her innovative and expertly crafted work became known.

Working exclusively with ethically sourced leathers – mostly elephant, hippo, buffalo, cow, ostrich and crocodile, but also more unusual hides such as frog and snake skins – her art works are highly sought after and can be seen in buildings, galleries and private homes across the world.

Her largest piece, a 3m x 27m commissioned work entitled Prelude, was a mammoth undertaking that took Beatrix 14 months to complete. Depicting the diversity of South Africa’s cultural heritage, it hangs in the South African State Theatre in Pretoria.

With 34 successful exhibitions worldwide, her status as one of South Africa’s most iconic artists has long been established, but in her new home she can just be Beatrix who enjoys pottering around her garden, reading a science fiction novel, thinking of ways to fill the 120 drawers in the house or how to sandblast her digital designs onto glass for unique garden lights.

As we say our goodbyes I take one last look at the precise stitching and careful balance of texture and colour of her newly created leather panels on the windows. Being her last works in leather some people may perhaps see them as the end of an era. As for me, I will remember them as symbols of a bright new beginning for the enigmatic Beatrix Bosch.

PERMANENT EXHIBITION

Nineteen unique leather wall hangings by Beatrix Bosch, with titles such as Forest Textures and Forbidden Fruit, are currently on permanent display at the Wilderness Hotel in George Road, Wilderness. These works are the last of Beatrix’s personal collection of original leather wall hangings available for sale. Contact Jacques Pratt at Wild Info for a guided walkabout or for more information.

084 446 3422 or wild@wildnews.co.za

Baroque decadence

Not so long ago, Wilja Reitz was a celebrated Cape Town interior couturier whose decadent handmade lampshades and extravagant hats found international audiences. In 2013 she gave it all up to pursue a dream that has been enticing her for more than ten years.

WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPHS Desmond Scholtz

The baroque barn outside Plettenberg Bay is filled with the stuff dreams are made of. Weaver birds’ nests and baskets hang from beams, plants spill over the brim of an old bath tub, and pretty things dangle and twinkle everywhere. My senses are filled to the brim and we are still only on the stoep – a whole treasure chest of beautiful items await discovery inside.

“Ouland Royale is meant to be a space where people can come and escape reality, a fantasy place where they can eat decadent food, and feel happy and safe,” says Wilja Reitz, the owner of the extraordinary venue and eatery that has people talking.

Raised in Knysna, Wilja says she was a fantastical child who believed in and talked to fairies. She was also fascinated by the minute details she saw through her veterinarian dad, Dr André Reitz’s, microscope and marvelled at the unseen life it represented. “Based on this experience I enrolled for a science degree at Stellenbosch University, but soon realised that it was the beauty rather than the biological that was appealing to me. I switched over to fine art sculpture, and obtained my degree in 1995.”

She started making decorative hats and couture lampshades in her spare time. “The hats probably best represent what goes on in my head, and are 3D representations of how I make sense of the many beautiful unseen things I perceive.”

She got the chance for an extraordinary gap year to help renovate an uncle’s 150-year-old chateau in France, which changed her creative path irrevocably. “The skills and techniques I learned were the best and very hands-on. To this day I use that knowledge, skills set and influences when I restore furniture or make lamps.”

On her return to South Africa, Wilja enrolled for a post graduate qualification in graphic design but it was once again her after-hours passion that defined her future. “I was, and still am, fascinated by light and form, which ultimately led to me making decorative lamp shades.” Adorned with baubles, feathers, textured fabric and all things pretty, the lampshades were snapped up by Cape Town designers as soon as she walked into their shops with her handiwork. The design world so loved her work, she eventually opened her own shop, Decadence Boutique, in 2003 and became known as interior couturier of once-off lighting pieces. The interior shop also sold bespoke and gilded furniture that Wilja had made and restored, and she completed many large commissions for private homes and corporate spaces.

Among her successes was featuring in Decorex Cape together with top class couturiers Malcolm Klük, Christiaan Gabriël du Toit, Maya Prass, Kirsty Bannerman and Shakur Olla, who each selected garments from their collections, which Wilja had to match with a lamp.

Her fantastical hats were equally successful and regularly featured at high society occasions such as the Durban July and the J&B Met. More recently, a client asked her to design a hat to match her designer outfit to the Royal Ascot Race Day in June last year.

Soon after she opened the shop, Wilja says she started dreaming of a baroque barn, and after ten years the images in her mind were so strong she knew she had to build it. “I was also desperately missing my family who had all by that time moved to my grandparents’ farm outside Plettenberg Bay.”

In early 2013 she closed her shop and sold her Victorian manor in Cape Town, and moved back to the farm. “I threw everything I had into building this dream and spent my entire life’s savings. By that time the picture was so clear in my head, it was just a case of realising it – eight months later, in November 2013, Ouland Royale opened for business.”

A self-confessed workaholic passionate about women empowerment, Wilja is all about teaching and doing things for herself. “I thrive on proving to myself and others that I can achieve almost anything through self-belief and gratitude for my blessings in life. I try to encourage that in my staff too – there are very few things we cannot do if only we put our minds to it and believe in our inner strength.”

Wilja named her venue after the farm, which her grandmother had dubbed Ouland (old land), and an Afrikaans song Royal Hotel by David Kramer. “I loved the song when I was a child and it fit well with the boere baroque Russian theme of the barn and the decadent royal feel of the decor.”

The double volume ceiling and sliding doors that run almost the extent of the side walls create a light-filled space that is dramatically and decadently decorated. Long tables are set with silverware, crystal, candles and flowers. Tea and cake are served on antique and collectable crockery. Lounging spaces are created by cleverly placed couches, covered in dramatic and playful fabrics. Walls are adorned with gilded mirrors and antique portraits. Wilja’s lampshades add colour, drama and whimsy. Funky hats cover mannequins or hang over the corners of portraits and mirrors.

“I’ve collected many beautiful pieces throughout the years and several of the ones in Ouland Royale come with lovely stories.”

Initially intended as a wedding venue with simple cake and tea, the eatery became unexpectedly popular. “I taught myself to bake, which was also a childhood dream, and the food is really honest and unpretentious. It turned out to be a winner and people continue to come back for more.”

Part of Ouland Royale is an antique and décor shop, and Wilja continues to make couture lampshades and hats on order. “It feels like my life is not long enough for the things I still want to create. My creativity feeds my soul, it’s why I work.

“I believe Ouland Royale appeals to people who love and appreciate beauty, quality and attention to detail – and who understand the energy of goodwill, romance and decadence here.”

Visit Ouland Royale

Ouland Royale is open for breakfast, lunch and tea, Tuesday to Friday from 8am to 4pm, and Saturday from 8m to 1pm.

Ouland Royale weddings and functions

Seats up to 150 guests and provides a full service, including food, cutlery and crockery, as well as lists of preferred service providers such as photographers, dress designers and more.

CONTACT
Opposite Plett airport entrance.
082 859 1250
oulandroyale@gmail.com

Two homes, one life

The opposite extremes of the Garden Route and Karoo have so captured the hearts of Kurt Steiner and Duke Kaufman that they decided to make home in both.

WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPHS Desmond Scholtz

It started with a home in Knysna, which Duke bought in the 1990s when he moved to the town to open a Bistro and rekindle childhood memories. “Growing up, our family had a holiday house on Leisure Island in Knysna and some of my best memories were of the peace and tranquillity of the place. I wanted to rekindle those memories and make a wholesome living, and at the time opened a coffee shop called Can-de-light.

“Knysna was very different then. It had a real sense of place with unique little shops and a resident artist culture. Interestingly, the same qualities led to us buying a house in Prince Albert 15 years later.”

The Knysna house, which incorporates a quaint garden cottage, was Duke’s first long-term garden and interior project. “My family had a carpet business and through the years I have literally been in thousands of homes. The different styles and interpretations made a big impact on me, and to this day remains a reference when I design and decorate.”

Among his many talents and experiences, his time in London working with landscape architect Christopher Masson was especially inspiring. “Christopher creates gardens for the rich and famous. It was very rewarding and I learned the kinds of lessons that remain relevant for my business, including my furniture restoration enterprise,” says Duke.

It was also in London where Duke and Kurt met through mutual friends. Kurt, at the time a London-based private banker, visited South Africa soon after and was immediately charmed by the vibrancy of the country and its people.

The couple settled in Duke’s Knysna house, which has stunning views of the lagoon as well as the lush hills towards Simola golf course. The large covered patio overlooks the garden and swimming pool, with comfortable chunky furniture and a built-in braai in the corner. Upstairs bedrooms feature large glass doors and walk out onto a patio with a nearly all-round view of Knysna’s greenery and waterways.

“Knysna is our outdoor house, where we spend hours on the patio with friends and family. The house has become a second home to friends, many of whom have stayed in it at some time or another when they needed a roof over their heads or refuge from city living,” says Duke.

Knysna is also Kurt’s Golden Retriever Bonny’s favourite place and walks on Leisure Island are a regular treat. “She goes ballistic when we go there, running around chasing seagulls, coming out the other end covered in mud and vegetation.”

Prince Albert
In stark contrast to the lush and green living of Knysna, Duke and Kurt’s home in Prince Albert has taken on a life of its own. “It’s like living in two different worlds, not only because of the obvious climate and landscape differences, but also because of the types of people who live here and the associated small town lifestyle,” says Kurt.

In search of a new project, a friend recommended Duke and Kurt visit the quaint Karoo town of Prince Albert. “We were immediately charmed by the town’s Victorian architecture, its unique character, and the leiwater, old-fashioned cement water furrows watering the town’s gardens.”

A main road corner property with a history dating back to 1858 intrigued the pair most. There were three buildings including an old wheat mill, which at some time had been converted into offices, and a once-Victorian house that had been altered and added to over the years.

In bad repair, Duke and Kurt thought it would be a shame for a property with such a rich history to deteriorate further. “The Victorian house in the main street is ideally situated for a business, which also gave us the opportunity to explore our interests in design, art, furniture and photography.”

The front house was turned into the Watershed complex, which houses Duke’s restored retro furniture, design and interior pieces as well as three galleries – displaying the works of international photographer Jürgen Schadeberg (best known for his 1950s photographs of township living and Nelson Mandela), Cape Town-based artist Alex Hamilton and Prince Albert artist JP Meyer.

The old mill and adjacent building were turned into the living space, with the back wall of the Watershed building creating an intimate garden and swimming pool area. A special feature is the roof garden that overlooks the town and the Swartberg Mountains. “It is a favourite sundowner spot. The town really comes into its own as the day’s heat dissipates, and the stunning colours of the Karoo glow in the late afternoon sun,” says Kurt.

In contrast to the shabby chic approach to the Knysna house, Kurt and Duke stayed with clean lines in Prince Albert, with a minimalist approach to furniture and a modern, international art collection.

Initially intended as their holiday house, the runaway success of the Watershed shop led to the Prince Albert house becoming their more permanent base. “Ironically this was meant to have been our winter hideaway but because most of the tourism business is in the warm months, we have found ourselves living here in the heat of summer.

“Prince Albert has very much become a weekend destination, with numerous shops and restaurants, and it made sense to us to remain open after lunch on Saturdays and Sundays so that people could walk off their hearty Karoo meals and do some shopping. It turned out to be a real stroke of luck, because when most other places are closed, we in effect have a captive audience,” Kurt says with a grin.

They also tend to go out more in Prince Albert, enjoying the wide range of top class eateries as well as the odd show at the Prince Albert Theatre. “Everything is within walking distance and the early evening in particular is a time for locals to be outdoors. The silence of the Karoo settles within the people who live here, and makes for very interesting individuals and fascinating stories.”

Now that the Prince Albert project is completed and lived in, chances are Duke and Kurt may start looking for a new project to tackle. “We are admittedly nomadic, but every time I start talking about selling the Knysna house, a host of friends protest profusely. We’ve even contemplated some time in London, but I find it hard to imagine Bonny reined in by the restrictions of that lifestyle… I guess time will tell,” says Duke.

www.watershedprincealbert.co.za

Click here for a low res pdf of the original article published in Summer 2014-15.

 

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The quiet life

While some would presume the quiet life on a farm on the edge of nowhere would be lonely, Tinie Bekker does not agree. When the two guest rooms on his farm outside Calitzdorp are not occupied, a string of interesting friends are bound to turn up, seeking his restful company in the country kitchen or in front of a cosy fire.

 WORDS Athane Scholtz PHOTOGRAPHS Desmond Scholtz

Boesmanskop is a perfect reflection of this man, who has spent most of his 55 years on this farm at the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains. Quiet, with a discreet sense of hospitality and a talented eye for beauty and design, Tinie goes about life in his own gentle way.

While his house – at the furthest point of a circular road – is out of the way, his life seems full, with a vineyard on the doorstep, an antique shop in town to keep him busy and many friends who visit often. Strangers come too; much of the beautifully restored farmhouse is now elegant farm stay accommodation, and South was lucky to spend a weekend with Tinie.

I sit at his kitchen table as he prepares venison pie for supper. He pours coffee and talks while he cooks.

“The farm has belonged to the family since 1759 and this house was my grandparents’ when I was a child. I grew up here, and know the mountains and streams intimately. I guess the tranquillity of the Swartberg is in my soul.”

Growing up on an age-old family farm had other advantages too, like exposure to antique furniture that has been the backdrop to his childhood. “The beauty of wood, true craftsmanship and elegant functionality depict the furniture of the old Cape era, for which I have great appreciation. Having seen some of this in my grandparents’ house must have borne that love, because I’ve been collecting beautiful things for most of my adult life.”

As the oldest son among six children, Tinie automatically took the reins on the farm when he returned from his agricultural studies at Stellenbosch University. He continued farming tobacco, dairy, ostriches and wine until last year.

Some years back, when he moved from one of the other houses on the farm to the main house, plans to renovate the house and decorate it with his own stunning collection of antiques and collectables were realised. Working with Cape Town-based architect and friend Bertie Schreuder, the original house was consolidated with all its additions and outbuildings, and turned into the spacious home it is today.

From one-man-home to hosting guests
A billiard table is to blame for the shift to hospitality. “I bought the full size table because I always wanted to have one, and it went for a steal. Only after I bought it did I realise I didn’t have a room big enough to hold it. So, I built a building for it,” Tinie grins.

The project became extensive. Since it was separate from the house, it required its own toilet and a bit of a lounge with a big fire place… and a wine cellar… maybe a small kitchen? To tie in with the design of the main house, the billiard room building had to showcase antique elements such as reclaimed door frames and an antique kitchen basin – not to mention reclaimed yellowwood flooring from an abandoned fort in the Eastern Cape and solid wood poplar beams. “My friend Wessel Strydom and I would drive all over in search of interesting building materials, decorations and finishes. It became quite an adventure.

“By no means was this perfectly planned. The length of the beams of the first floor ceiling, for instance, turned out to be a tiny bit shorter than what the width of a full-size billiard room was supposed to be. So the whole building is slightly narrower than it should be, but so what?” he shrugs.

“When we found something we liked, for instance a reclaimed doorframe, we would build around it to make it fit. We discovered a beautiful wall cupboard and then just built the wall out a bit so it could fit in.”

At some point, Tinie realised his increasingly expensive undertaking was going to have to start paying for itself, and the idea of the guest room came up. The billiard room walls were built to become a double storey with an open plan guestroom offering extraordinary views of the mountain and vineyards.

The four-sleeper, open space is roomy, with beautiful items everywhere. The display wall cupboard in the bathroom has coloured glass goblets from around the world. In a corner is an old umbrella stand. Afternoon sun lights up a cement vase on a rugged table.

The décor decisions display Tinie’s own impeccable taste as well as that of friends and family, who all seemed to have contributed in some way or another. One particular friend, artist Hanneke Benade, played a major part in decorating walls, crafting unique door handles and providing paintings. At one time the billiard room doubled as an art gallery, remnants of which still hang on the walls.

“The décor changes from time to time. The house and guestrooms are spacious, and it’s easy to swop a few things around to create a whole new atmosphere. My friends are enthusiastic participants… I think they secretly enjoy a house in which can be played around without it affecting a whole array of inhabitants,” he smiles.

Tinie says his first guests stayed in the new upstairs room in 2006, and since then he has never looked back. In fact, it became so popular that he eventually gave up his office in the converted original outbuildings of the main house to open another guestroom. This unit has the added bonus of a wide stoep that overlooks the pool, gardens, vineyard and mountains. It also has the most magnificent shabby chic bathroom, complete with brass taps, chandeliers and luxuriously deep bath.

But visiting here is not just about stunning views and tranquillity. It is also about visiting with Tinie. While you are more than welcome to bring a few things for a braai, you should really let Tinie cook for you. Undoubtedly an essential part of the Boesmanskop experience is breakfast and supper in the dining room with its long table, stinkwood chairs and crisp linen. You will feel right at home with cutlery and crockery that could have been from your grandmother’s kitchen. The wine will most probably be local, possibly even produced from the grapes that grow on the farm.

After supper, Tinie may join you in the lounge in front of the fire. Most of the conversation will be him answering questions: how old is the house? (He doesn’t know), has his family always owned this land? (Yes), and doesn’t he get lonely in this big old house on the furthest point of a circular road that goes nowhere? (No, not really.) He adds: “I’ve lived like this all my life and am used to it. What’s more, you are here now…” Indeed.

Stay here
R360 per person sharing, room only, R460 single (2014)
Additional guests sharing unit: R180 per person
Supper R200 per person excluding wine Breakfast R80 per person (2014)
Booking is best by emailing tiniebekker@mweb.co.za
044 213 3365
www.boesmanskop.co.za