The Tin House of Stilbaai
After 50 years of holidaying in Stilbaai, the Retiefs knew exactly what they wanted for their home in this resort town: an open welcoming structure that pays tribute to the original fishermen’s cottages and comfortably accommodates their entire family.
The Retief family has a long history with the popular coastal town of Stilbaai – in fact, it dates all the way back to the 1940s.
“My husband Nicol has been coming to Stilbaai since he was about four – that’s almost 75 years!” says Vilhéta. As newlyweds and for the following 15 years, the couple spent their holidays at the well-known Ocean View boarding house owned by Ella van der Merwe on the eastern side of the Goukou River.
In 1985, they bought their first property in town – also located on the eastern side. But over the years, more and more of their friends settled on the western side...
“In 1991, on the spur of the moment, we walked into a real estate agency and asked if there were any beach homes available in Stilbaai West. As luck would have it, this house was on the market as an urgent sale from a deceased estate.”
The Retiefs made a cash offer and it was accepted. “It was actually a bit of a shock,” recalls Vilhéta. “But in hindsight, the gamble paid off because I don’t think we could have invested in a better place.”
At the time, one of Stilbaai’s original houses was located on the property but wood borers in the floors and rafters, a very impractical layout, tiny windows and a bathroom that was horribly outdated presented quite a few challenges. “We decided to clad the exterior of the house with asbestos panels, which at least updated the look!” says Vilhéta.
It wasn’t until almost 20 years later, in 2008, that the Retiefs decided to demolish the old house and build again from scratch. Since the original structure was so riddled with dry rot and because of all the alterations that had been made over the years, the house had long since lost its original character and the couple had no problems with the Heritage Council. They were able to build a house that would meet their needs and those of their children and grandchildren. And so the Tin House was born. >>
The dining room forms part of the open-plan living area which also includes the kitchen. A separate scullery is out of sight – an asset when you want to hide the holiday dishes!
The neutral palette in the living room has been brightened up with colourful cushions and a bold painting. Cushions from Biggie Best