Two exquisitely designed units in the heart of the Karoo double up as guest cottages and rentals to those lucky enough to experience this most special part of the world.
WORDS: DEBBIE LOOTS – IMAGES: KARL ROGERS
Designer Hendre Bloem works from his Cape Town studio on all things interior. His particular way of creating living spaces that are both warm and uniquely beautiful has seen him work on a diverse range of projects – from a total redesign of a heritage Woodstock cottage to the interiors of a variety of ultra-contemporary homes in major cities.
Suidster (Southern Star) is another one of his unique projects and the combination of the beloved Karoo landscape and his singular design flair has seen something special come together here. He tells us more.
The owners of a Karoo farm, Cobus van Wyk and Ruan van de Venter, wanted two identical units built as guest suites for when family and friends come to visit and for short term rentals. Cobus and Ruan also live on the farm in a separate house. The units were built as rectangular structures off about 70m² each. They are fully open-plan except for the toilet, which is enclosed with glass and metal screening. The space is divided into four quarters – a reflection of the four directions (North East South and West) that inspired the name of the units. The four parts each house a bedroom, bathroom, living area and kitchen.
As the farm is 300km from Cape Town, the project required very careful planning. Everything was pre-manufactured in Cape Town, from the joinery of the cupboards to the kitchen – all the furniture. These then had to be transported to the farm and were installed within a day or two. So there wasn’t any massive interior work done on site.
Working with the clients was a joy. It was so easy and they trusted me completely. I had free reign to do whatever I wanted to. And from start to finish the only interior tweaks needed were more architectural details. For instance the outside decking – instead of excavating and building a step down, we decided to rather elevate the deck because of the angle of the land and not wanting to interfere with the Karoo fauna and flora.
The units were a new build and I collaborated closely with the owners. They were very involved. Cobus is a kind of Jack of all trades and he likes to figure things out, and if he doesn’t know how to do something, he will find out. He did all the exterior decking and cladding. Professional plumbers, electricians and builders took charge of the major aspects of the project.
I played a lot with textures. I especially love the treatment of the raw materials, such as the Klompie brick floor which we painted charcoal and grey instead of the traditional terracotta. It gives the space a naturally timeless, modern feel. The combination of the raw elements, including the corrugated steel structure, with the sophisticated joinery and luxurious textures and textiles of the upholstery, curtains, rugs and bed linen create a juxtaposition of the masculine side of a traditional farm experience with a softer feminine feel.
I love the placement of the two units. The location of each makes special use of the exquisite views of the landscape. The interior layout and the placement of the windows and doors maximise this experience with uninterrupted views from nearly every window. Location, views and an unparalleled natural environment, combined with the exquisite interiors make this project special.