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.

Builder: Outeniqua Building Projects 076 976 8411
Custom wood doors and dining room table:
Kinghorn and Sons [email protected]
Custom furniture:
Aluminium windows and doors: Johan Sims 082 782 5093
Thatch roof:
Kitchen cupboards: Gerrit Marra 083 563 4480
Stone fire place and basin:
Interior colours and paints: Builders at Home 076 152 2527