Starting with the stoep overlooking the Kamiesberg Mountains, this family farmstead is slowly being restored to its former glory.
that an My grandfather always said
if you old house is like an old man:
patience don’t treat it with lots of
life very and respect, it will make
Crous difficult for you. – Esmi
Reason for renovation
If a farmhouse has withstood the vagaries of five generations, it’s understandable that the structure would be a little battered and run-down after so many years. That’s how it was on the farm Grootvalleij in Namaqualand.
When Philip and Esmi – her maiden name is Van der Westhuizen and she is the sixth generation to live at Grootvalleij – moved to the farm in 2012 after two years abroad, a renovation was definitely on the cards.
They started at square one: the stoep. “Before we moved in, the house had been standing empty for almost 15 years, so it was in a very bad way,” says Esmi. “But the real problem was all the alterations and add-ons that the previous residents had done – not all of their ideas were good ones. The house had completely lost its character and we wanted to restore it to its former glory.”
Working from an old photograph they got from Esmi’s grandfather’s eldest brother, uncle Neelsie van der Westhuizen (93), they planned their renovation accordingly.
They’re far from done but the new façade ensures that guests arriving at the farm (Esmi also runs a guesthouse) will receive a warm welcome.
“The old house has regained its pride,” says Esmi. “So much of my family’s history was wrapped up in this homestead, so it was really sad to see it so dilapidated. Now my son Alexander loves riding his scooter on the new stoep – albeit at the expense of his parents’ mental health!”
Who lives here?