Inside the Overberg home that’s pioneering a casual approach to Victorian rustic
In stanford, antiques collector Cobus van niekerk’s Victorian home reflects his passion
As an avid collector and a purveyor of decor and furniture, it’s only natural that Cobus van niekerk becomes attached to some of the pieces he finds at auctions or by chance in exotic locales. But for the most part, once he’s had his fill of enjoyment, he’s happy to pass on his finds to those who visit his iconic antiques and collectables shop, based at his home in stanford in the overberg. ‘I like to “play” with the items I find, mix them up and move them around. I’m not a snob or a purist when it comes to putting a regency piece with 1960s chairs. In fact, that’s what I love to do. and once I’m ready to move on, then that’s it – goodbye,’ he laughs. of course he’s attached to some key furniture items that he’s had for many years and a current obsession with urns of all shapes, sizes and materials doesn’t look set to abate anytime soon, but precious he is not.
Like Cobus’s many and varied aesthetic interests and passions, so his home has had numerous incarnations. While original deeds and plans to this historical dwelling have proven impossible to uncover, he estimates that it was built in the late 1700s, which in south african terms is very old. ‘I have a feeling that it was the original manor house for the village. It’s much older than the other houses here,’ says Cobus, who explains that it has been everything from a post office in the 1920s to the local telephone exchange and even a small library. a‘ truck would come up from Cape Town every month with new novels for the bookstarved residents,’ he says.
Cobus has lived in stanford for 20 years – originally he intended to use his escape as a weekend home but the allure of village life proved too strong and he moved here permanently. ‘growing up in the sixties, we always lived in modern homes, yet as an adult I longed for an old space, I suppose because it reminded me of happy times spent with my grandparents at their Karoo home,’ he says. on entering the home from the street, an entrance hall-come-reception room awaits, with Cobus’s shop peeling off to the right and his living space to the left. ‘The house is the shape of an upside down T, with the cross section on the street side and the long, vertical arm running away from the street.’ This means that each of
the living spaces, from reception room to kitchen, lead off from one another. The unusual design is typical of older houses and works perfectly for Cobus, who has decorated his space to reveal a series of visual delights as you delve further into the house. adding to the sense of visual theatre is his daring use of colour. ‘When I first bought the place, I painted everything white. The builders were horrified that
I was wrecking valuable yellowwood and oregon pine, but more recently I decided to go with black walls and I love it,’ he says. It’s no surprise he’s so enamoured with his paint choice. rather than make his home seem gloomy, it brings a sense of drama to the equation and his antiques and curated collections pop against the new backdrop.
The entrance reception area is dominated by a magnificent georgian-era table and high-gloss fibreglass chairs. It’s here that Cobus spends much of his time scribbling down ideas and hatching his plans. From here one is drawn into a sitting room with doorways framed by rather theatrical drapes on either side of an imposing fireplace leading into the dining room and beyond that to the kitchen. still further into the home is Cobus’s rather more ascetic bedroom, a far less decorated space compared to the rest of the house – intentionally so, he says.
as a direct juxtaposition to the blackpainted interiors, Cobus’s studio and shop is a white-painted, light-filled space. It’s here that this consummate collector’s eclectic and ever-changing cornucopia of quirky finds and decorative objects are on display and for sale. ‘I studied art and art history so I know my antiques but I really am not too precious about what I buy, decorate with and sell,’ he says, and it seems his unique approach and eye work because he turns stock at a rate of knots.
Cobus’s shop used to be a prominent fixture on stanford’s Queen Victoria street. now that he’s moved it into his home, and knowing his penchant for creating visual theatre, there’s no doubt his home will become even more of a fascinating drawcard for locals and visitors alike.
left, from top the dining room is painted the same hue as the rest of the house; Cobus’s studio and shop play host to some of his urns and a painting done by him