IIT

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was a scene guar­an­teed to get many a ren­o­va­tor’s hands itch­ing to get stuck in: a run-down farm cot­tage with a huge old tree tow­er­ing above it and a view to die for.

“The lit­tle house on our farm Vlei­dam out­side Kor­ing­berg was built by labour­ers in 1930,” says Nikki Lox­ton.

“And ev­ery­thing about it re­ally is lit­tle – from the rooms to the win­dows. When we did the restora­tion, we tried to stay as true to the orig­i­nal aes­thetic as pos­si­ble, keep­ing the walls as skew as when they were first built.”

Nikki and her hus­band John run a guest farm on Vlei­dam and the cot­tage is now one of the self-cater­ing units they rent out. Nikki and her daugh­ter Christine, who is in charge of the ad­min for the guest farm, joined forces to plan and ex­e­cute the ren­o­va­tion.

Al­though they had a vague idea of what they wanted, the project was still an ad­ven­ture, says Christine. “I think you can never re­ally be 100% pre­pared when you tackle some­thing like this, es­pe­cially if you do most of the work your­self. There were def­i­nitely a few sur­prises and many of the ideas only came to us as we went along.”

The cot­tage con­sists of a kitchen-cum-liv­ing area and a large bed­room that both open out onto the spa­cious stoep with its built-in braai, comfy seat­ing and tran­quil read­ing nook. And, of course, the vast open space of the Swart­land serves as the perfect back­drop.

“The only struc­tural change we had to make was build­ing a wall be­tween the bed­room and bath­room. For­tu­nately, the orig­i­nal wooden ceil­ing was still in­tact – we sim­ply painted it white,” says Nikki. The cor­ru­gated-iron roof is still the orig­i­nal, but a new roof was added over the stoep to pro­vide much-needed shade.

Nikki says that the most dif­fi­cult as­pect was get­ting the elec­tric­ity, wa­ter and sew­er­age lines in­stalled. “We had to dig the sew­er­age trenches with a bull­dozer; luck­ily, we were able to use our neigh­bour’s ma­chine. And drainage stones for the sew­er­age sys­tem had to be hauled here from the veld by trac­tor and trailer.” >>

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