If you’re in need of a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Little Karoo is just the ticket. Here, on the farm Uitsig in the Hoeko Valley between Ladismith and Calitzdorp, Narine and Jurgen Prins have converted a dilapidated labourer’s cottage into a comfy guesthouse.
The couple settled in the valley, where Jurgen farms, in 2016. Jurgen and Narine, a former Grade R teacher, were ready for a new challenge and the house – practically a ruin – soon piqued their interest.
The building had been unoccupied for a long time and had been stripped of its roof and floor. “The weeds were already starting to cover the walls,” recalls Narine. But the view of the Towerkop Mountain was spectacular. The couple were later to name the cottage Hemelrand (Heaven’s Edge).
“Because we have a similar vision, it was the perfect project for Jurgen and I to tackle together,” says Narine. While Jurgen planned the layout, she focused on the décor. They started the renovation in September that year, replacing the floors and doors and installing a new roof.
The steep and winding gravel road to the cottage was inaccessible for trucks and the farm was far from any hardware stores. Out of necessity, the couple had to plan the project carefully, especially since they had to transport the building materials themselves – and at just the right time so work could proceed unhindered. “On one occasion, I ran out of petrol halfway up the mountain, and at other times I just left bags of cement or shutters next to the bumpy farm track,” says Narine.
But they were undeterred and three months later they welcomed their first guests. “It was worth all the blood, sweat and tears,” she adds. The couple has since also set up another guesthouse, Gelukstroom, on the farm.
“After every project I say ‘never again!’. But before you know it, we’re at it again.” >>
Any cost-cutting tips for other renovators? Make sure you research the products you want and don’t make rash decisions. Where do you like to shop for accessories? My mom and I love browsing for décor – whether it be in a retail store or at a roadside farm stall. We’ve refurbished plenty of items, from tin trunks to wooden ladders. Anything can be revamped! What do you enjoy most about the completed project? It’s so full of character. Almost every décor item has a story. What would you do differently next time? I would call in the help of a professional plumber. And perhaps set a deadline for the project, otherwise it drags on for too long and becomes exhausting.
Cement to which black oxide powder has been added Walls painted with cement water Ceiling Isoboard (021 983 1140, isoboard.com) Tiles My Tiles (Southern Art Ceramics, 028 316 3296) Taps AH Marais Seuns (023 626 3071, ahm.co.za) Tracks for shutters Steel & Pipes for Africa (steelandpipes.co.za) Accessories Bali Trading (028 713 2080, balitrading.co.za); Calitzdorp Antique Furniture (079 580 0528); Victoria & Albert (023 347 4939, vandabaths.com)