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.

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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. >>

By Frieda le Roux • Pho­to­graphs Fran­cois Ober­hol­ster Styling Mar­ian van Wyk

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

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