Stoeps Six stylish outdoor entertainment areas
One thing’s for sure, South Africans love the outdoors and making the most of this sociable space – whatever the weather!
 Room with a view
Those who’ve had the privilege of congregating around Isabella Niehaus’s table at her home on the West Coast know that this stoep is the ideal place to forget all your troubles. This is where she serves heaps of delicious oysters and chilled champagne while guests revel in their surroundings.
The “Long Tables on the Dune” are an institution that Bella, as she is known by many, began six years ago when she swapped the bright city lights for the peace and quiet of the seaside. “Exchanging all my branded high heels, frocks and sunglasses for a long T-shirt dress and slip-slops wasn’t just a major decision, it was a premeditated choice!” she writes in her blog.
The stoep, with its epic views of the Atlantic Ocean, is anything but pretentious, thanks to a simple cement floor and weathered balau deck. The floor of the stoep on the upper level serves as a partial roof, but otherwise it’s completely open.
Why it works…
Stacking doors that fold open along the 12m length of this stoep give new meaning to the term ‘inside out’. “The stoep is literally an extension of the living room,” says Bella. “There’s no division between indoors and out, and the entire space forms one large living room and entertainment area. Sometimes, we drag all the living room furniture out onto the stoep, while the rest of the furniture stays outside all year round.”
Bella describes her décor style as simple, earthy and eclectic. “Most of my furniture is old; I’ve had it for years,” she says. “Every now and then, I’ll have a chair painted or reupholstered. The turquoise chair stood in my garage for a long time; after I’d painted it, I had it covered with floral fabric from Mitat. I also love putting together different pieces of fabric and giving a chair my own unique look.” What does Bella enjoy most about her stoep? “The view, of course, and the
sound of the ocean!”
 Farm flair
Cobus and Liesl’s rustic stoep in Prince Albert never fails to arouse a sense of nostalgia for rural life, even if you’ve never lived on a farm! At the same time, this space has a contemporary feel and features all the amenities necessary in a modern entertainment area.
“Because the house dates back to 1904 and heritage regulations apply to this property, we were only allowed to build onto the back of our home,” says Liesl. “The front stoep is original and thanks to Prince Albert’s heritage committee, as well as the excellent skills of local architect Kurt Buss and builder Hendrik de Villiers, our new back stoep also perfectly complements our home.”
The team worked meticulously to blend the new stoep with the original corrugated-iron roof and, typical of a Karoo house, it boasts a reed ceiling and simple cement floor. >>
Why it works…
The stoep is an extension of the living areas: the lounge, dining room and kitchen all open onto it and it flows seamlessly to the swimming pool and outbuildings in the backyard.
It’s not just the clever layout that makes this stoep special – the furniture and décor have been put together with great care to create an authentic farm feel. “I suppose I’d describe my style as ‘eclectic Karoo’,” says Liesl. “I spent three years collecting interesting pieces that tell a story. A degree of playfulness and a sense of humour are also important to me; I had fun with elements like the mannequin which now serves as a coatrack (see right).”
 Jungle fever
JC and Wim’s stoep creates a natural transition between the house and garden, perfect for their “indooroutdoor lifestyle” in the heart of Johannesburg.
“When the stacking doors are wide open, it’s one massive area, including the living room, dining room, kitchen and entrance hall, as well as a spare room that opens out onto the adjoining deck,” explains JC.
Although the stoep is located in front of the house, it’s completely private as JC and Wim’s home is situated on a panhandle stand. Thanks to big trees, the stoep is also well-sheltered.
A large 10-seater dining table and stackable chairs made of lightweight steel ensure that there’s always enough room for guests; these chairs are stored outside permanently.
The concrete floors create a contemporary feel, while the original corrugated-iron roof and ceiling is probably the only feature that JC and Wim would like to change. “Exposed beams would probably look much better!”
The stoep is a big part of our daily lives, so it has to be as comfortable as possible. – Wim
The couple had the table custom made, while castors from Builders were added to the Chesterfield sofa. Planter baskets and lanterns complete the picture. Cane sofa and steel chairs (below right) from Weylandts; server (above right) from Moroccan House; scatter cushions from Loads of Living
Why it works…
A collection of staghorn ferns and orchids in the corner serves as an eye-catching focal point. “Wim loves orchids; it’s become a hobby,” says JC. “We’re always buying plants from all over the show.”
This living green wall echoes a striking interior wall painted in Dulux Dublin Bay 1. Along with the trees outside, the entire space takes on a jungle feel, which is further enhanced by a collection of African masks.
“We acquired the masks on our travels – sometimes separately and sometimes together – through countries such as Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia,” says JC. The carved water buffalo skull above the fireplace comes from Bali.
The stoep serves as the common area for entertaining – except on winter nights when we congregate around the old fireplace indoors! – Rosheen
 A country retreat
“Winter or summer, I can spend the entire day on the stoep with a book and people drifting in and out for a meal at the table. There’s nothing like an afternoon snooze on the couch, tea or sundowners with friends and family or just a quiet game of cards or backgammon,” says Rosheen.
When she doesn’t stay in the original 1936 homestead herself, she rents it out as holiday accommodation through Perfect Hideaways; guests are welcomed by farm manager James Rutherford.
The original stoep has been refined over the years. “In redesigning the flow it was important to create access to the bedrooms. This was achieved by means of a small anteroom leading to one bedroom and a passage leading to another,” explains Rosheen. “The stoep was also designed to accommodate a dining area as well as a small and larger lounging area so that no matter whether you feel like company or a bit of peace and quiet, you can find the perfect spot.”
Why it works…
For Rosheen it was important that the stoep be part of both the garden and the house, sheltered from the elements but exposed to nature. “The orientation of the stoep keeps it protected from the sun and the prevailing wind,” she says. “It’s comfortable all day and all year, although a cosy rug in winter and a ceiling fan in summer make it even more pleasant.”
Striking striped blinds add an elegant touch to the décor and provide added protection against the elements. Rosheen describes her style as “sophisticated with a new lease on life” since most of the furniture on the stoep was bought for previous homes and then moved around until it all fitted together. >>
By Beatrice Moore-Nöthnagel Photographs Francois Oberholster, Elza Cooper, Photography by Amora • Styling Marian van Wyk, Amanda van Wyngaardt and Amora Erasmus When the stoep isn’t being used for entertaining, Bella likes to sit here and read or just gaze out to sea. Floor cushions from MRP Home
WHO LIVES HERE? Isabella Niehaus WHERE Langebaan, West Coast SIZE 36m² ORIENTATION West
WHO LIVES HERE? Liesl Loubser and Cobus Wessels with their two Jack Russells, Lira and Laya WHERE Prince Albert SIZE 60m² and 30m² ORIENTATION West
WHO LIVES HERE? JC Snooke and Wim Steyn with their Weimaraners, Cyan and Shadow WHERE Linden, Johannesburg SIZE 21m² ORIENTATION West
The turquoise Moroccan door from Amatuli Artifacts is practical as well as striking.
WHO LIVES HERE? Rosheen Kriegler WHERE Near Calitzdorp, Klein Karoo SIZE 70m² ORIENTATION North
The house has a thatch roof but the corrugated-iron stoep roof and reed ceiling matches it perfectly. The cement floor was finished with a screed by a local builder who said he would “get it right” – and he did, says Rosheen.