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From the street it looks like any or­di­nary West Coast home but the green-red-and-blue front door is an in­di­ca­tion that some­thing spe­cial awaits in­side!

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a hand­ful of old crank tele­phones, and even half a tele­phone pole... In Han­neli and Nico Den­ner’s home, you’d best ex­pect the un­ex­pected!

“If it’s here, it’s be­cause it’s beau­ti­ful,” says cre­ative Han­neli of her sur­pris­ing dé­cor. The cou­ple con­cep­tu­alised plans for their dream home a long while back and when they started build­ing three years ago, Han­neli had the sketches ready as well as all sorts of ac­ces­sories and fur­ni­ture. “Some of my ideas left prac­ti­cal Nico a bit gob­s­macked,” she re­calls. “For­tu­nately, we like the same dé­cor style.”

From the mo­ment you en­ter the house, the cor­ru­gated-iron walls, rough ce­ment fin­ishes and stonework all cre­ate a warm at­mos­phere. “Be­ing artis­tic is like breath­ing for me; it just hap­pens,” says Han­neli. And each and ev­ery accessory has been se­lected and used with great care.

“The stone on the ex­te­rior walls was un­earthed when the foun­da­tions were ex­ca­vated. Nico picked up the cow skull in the veld and made the colour­ful clay birds sit­ting on its horns in a pot­tery class in Pater­nos­ter,” Han­neli ex­plains. “The front door is new but I painted it to look old. Af­ter a long search, I found the per­fect han­dle and sanded it un­til it looked weath­ered.” >>

A cow skull on the front stoep, an­tique sewing ma­chines on dis­play in the kitchen, a pen­dant rigged from an old lad­der and chains,

A lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing

Han­neli was born in North West and has owned her own in­te­rior dec­o­rat­ing busi­ness, An­nerkant die Draad, for 14 years. “I do a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing,” she says. “I paint, I love ar­chi­tec­ture, de­sign, fab­rics, his­tor­i­cal nov­els, sewing and gar­den­ing. I’m also an am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher.” But she’s ac­tu­ally a trained teacher!

Han­neli and Nico de­signed the house them­selves. “It took many hours of draw­ing sketches. Nico’s in­sight and prac­ti­cal, log­i­cal in­put helped a lot. I used a com­puter pro­gram to do the sketches and an ar­chi­tect sub­mit­ted the fi­nal plans to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity for ap­proval.

“The build­ing reg­u­la­tions for the town are quite strict. The height and width of the house, as well as the size of the win­dows and doors, are sub­ject to strin­gent rules. Due to the height lim­i­ta­tion, the up­per level is sit­u­ated largely in the roof.

“When it came to con­struc­tion and de­sign, it was like work­ing with a blank slate. Our pre­vi­ous prop­erty was old and we ren­o­vated it, but this was the first house we built from scratch. Ev­ery­thing that both­ered us in the past, we could do dif­fer­ently here.”

Han­neli has only one re­gret: “If we could change one thing, we would have made the house a lit­tle smaller. We were so ex­cited about the dream of mov­ing to Ja­cob­s­baai that we to­tally for­got our kids would one day leave the nest.”

For­tu­nately, there is now more than enough room for when they visit with their friends! >>

Rus­tic au­then­tic­ity

The Den­ners lived in Rusten­burg in North West but spent their hol­i­days in Ja­cob­s­baai for many years. They bought the plot on which the house now stands in 1998. “You can see, hear and smell the ocean from here,” says Han­neli. “The prop­erty ad­joins a green belt and it feels as if we’re liv­ing on a farm. In win­ter, it’s so pretty with all the green and then in spring the flow­ers bloom.”

Con­struc­tion be­gan in March 2015. “We were sched­uled to move in at the end of that year but it only hap­pened the fol­low­ing March,” she says.

The house was de­signed around their fur­ni­ture, most of which comes from their par­ents’ homes or an­tique stores. “I like old things. We buy from in­ter­est­ing places and we don’t fol­low trends and fads. I’m in­spired by the French ru­ral style, but also by lo­cal towns such as Rosendal in the Free State. It’s there that I got the idea to use stonework in­side and out­side the house.”

Han­neli says the Cem­crete fin­ish on the walls ac­cen­tu­ates the rus­tic ap­peal of the house. “All of the walls are painted with Earth­cote Worn Leather in the colour Bak­gat. On the ground floor we laid sand­stone tiles and on the up­per level the floors are re­cy­cled Oregon pine.”

Han­neli’s favourite part of the house? “The kitchen,” she says im­me­di­ately. “It’s the heart of our home. It’s where we cook, make cof­fee, drink wine and en­ter­tain. In win­ter, the coal stove makes it lovely and cosy – even the cats are hes­i­tant to budge from there.

“We are so con­tent here. We only have one life and we be­lieve in liv­ing it! Seize the day!” >>

By Marie Op­per­man • Pho­to­graphs Fran­cois Ober­hol­ster • Styling Shelly Bergh

Cut­lery in the is­land drawer is neatly stored in old But­ter­field loaf pans.

The liv­ing area on the first floor has a bal­cony with a sea view. It is also fit­ted with a fire­place and small kitchen.

The din­ing nook next to the kitchen leads out to the back stoep with its builtin braai. Port­holes are a preva­lent theme: there are two in the wall above the server and there’s even one in­side the braai!

The stair­case wall is dec­o­rated with fam­ily photos and wooden blocks that spell out the fam­ily’s favourite catch­phrases.

Han­neli got the in­spi­ra­tion for the banis­ter made of rusted cop­per pipes from a French mag­a­zine. “I love the way the French com­bine old and new.”’

One of Han­neli’s paint­ings hangs in Matista’s bed­room, while an old am­mu­ni­tion kist by the win­dow pro­vides stor­age space.

Halinka’s bed­room is dec­o­rated with colour­ful rosettes she has won in eques­trian com­pe­ti­tions. Han­neli dis­cov­ered the kist at the foot of the bed in the veld and re­stored it.

Hos­pi­tal bed­side cab­i­nets and a rough stone wall add im­pact to the guest bed­room.

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