Simple lines and rustic finishes in a farm-style home in Vleesbaai
Simple lines and rustic By Sarah finishes Stuart-Reckling make • Photographs this Vleesbaai Justin Patrick retreat the perfect spot to simply relax and rejuvenate.
What’s the one thing a house needs in order to feel like home? For Johan and Madeleine Smuts of George it’s a seamless flow between the interior and exterior – so synonymous with a South African lifestyle.
“With an abundance of sunny days – and our love of braaiing – this was a top priority for us,” says Johan.
The Smuts’ holiday home in Vleesbaai flows from the living room to the kitchen and out to the braai area. Huge sliding doors make the interior living areas and the exterior feel like one big space and with large windows that open onto a counter just outside the kitchen, no one is ever excluded from what’s going on.
Usually, the entire family – including the couple’s three adult children – gathers here every December. Sometimes, Johan and Madeleine slip away for a weekend too; they live less than an hour away in George where they run Die Waenhuis guesthouse.
“At this stage of our lives we don’t regard this as our retirement home but rather as a wonderful getaway spot that we’ll use more and more in the future,” says Johan. >>
In a farm style
The house, which was built between 2013 and 2014, was designed by Johan’s architect brother, Boets. “We owned the stand for about 25 years and had long dreamt of creating a home here for the next generation, which is why we built four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, so that our three children, their friends and their future families could all have their own space,” says Johan.
The charm of this farm-style home is enhanced by simple lines and rustic finishes. “Everything we chose was based on the farm theme,” says Madeleine. “The garage has a sliding door in a coach-house style, there are exposed roof beams, the balustrades are made of wood and steel cables, and we have a corrugated iron roof.”
The attractive fittings in the couple’s home are also practical. For example, wooden shutters on the windows help to regulate heat and sunlight. Even the “silo” next to the beach gate serves a dual purpose (see page 44). Johan explains that every house in Vleesbaai has to have a water tank. “We decided to make ours a focal point that complements the farm theme – the tank is disguised behind corrugated iron so it looks like a silo. This also created the ideal space for an outdoor shower.” >>
At the end of the year, the house sometimes feels as if it will burst at the seams with family and friends; we really enjoy the sense of togetherness. - Johan
A peaceful co-existence
The Smuts family’s vacation time largely revolves around cooking and eating delicious meals. “In the morning, the kitchen windows are opened so we can enjoy an ‘indoor-outdoor’ breakfast of tasty summer fruit such as peaches, apricots, litchis and watermelon. For lunch, we bake a loaf of bread – we are, after all, miles from any supermarkets or shops!” explains Madeleine.
Johan says most evenings are spent around the outdoor fire. “It’s been set up like a camp fire with chairs around it and it’s sheltered from the wind by the surrounding milkwood trees. It’s not uncommon for us to prepare three different dishes on the braai.”
The family loves spending time outdoors. In Vleesbaai they enjoy the beach and sea, but they also love cycling, jogging and rowing. Afterwards, there’s always time for some rest and relaxation. “We’ve strung hammocks between the trees and we love having a snooze here, our books soon forgotten in our hands,” says Madeleine.
It’s fitting that this home has been dubbed ‘See-Lah’ – a play on the biblical word ‘selah’ which occurs frequently in the book of Psalms, and is used to denote a pause. “It means to stop and listen,” explains Johan. And this is reflected in the Smuts family’s love of winding down in Vleesbaai and taking a moment to contemplate life.
The huge old workbench – complete with a vice grip – was a lucky find and now serves as a kitchen work surface with a butler sink. It sits on a platform to make it level with the other work surfaces. Lighting from Arc Lighting
The indoor and outdoor balustrades are made of timber and steel cables.
Old-fashioned wooden beds work well in one of the guest rooms (above left). Pale-green, blue, aubergine and red have been used as accent colours throughout the house, while the walls and other finishes are in neutral hues to keep the look light and airy. In the bathroom (above right), Madeleine made blinds from antique embroidered sheets and linen fabric, which she bought in France and Italy. Towels from Arabesque
The water tank has been concealed with corrugated iron; the tank is located above with an outdoor shower below.
Some sections of the home’s exterior feature exposed bricks that have been white-washed with cement; the window and door surrounds are coated with Earthcote Cement Paint.
The garden requires minimal maintenance as it’s filled with hardy indigenous plants; the lavender bushes at the entrance (top right) welcome visitors with their lovely fragrance and the outdoor fire (above right) is sheltered from the wind by milkwood trees.