Revamp Space #4 - Secret Garden Cottage

What was once a family veggie patch in Noordhoek has morphed into a thriving community farm, and now houses a secondary cottage that doubles as a meditation space.

Greg Cox
Charl Edwards

Secret Garden Cottage | House and Leisure

Creating the garden at their Noordhoek property near Cape Town was top priority for Angela and Justin Gomes when they took ownership in 2015.

‘It may seem counter-intuitive to focus on the garden before the house renovation, but we felt we had the potential to create something beautiful with an organic veggie garden, and it became the thread that carried through the rest of the property,’ explains Angela.

‘We believe a home should be a place to create meaningful connections and memories and experiences with friends and family and, if possible, the broader community.’

Their vision of creating a sense of community certainly manifested in the literal sense: ‘Our new vegetable garden turned out way too big, so we opened it up to the community and now Noordhoekers come here on a Saturday for harvesting,’ says Angela. 

Secret Garden Cottage | House and LeisureSecret Garden Cottage | House and Leisure

‘We wanted to partner with an architect who appreciated the power of using a conceptual vision as a starting point, and then threading the narrative throughout the renovation,’ explains Angela. ‘Justin’s old friend Alex Stewart of Alex Stewart Architects understood our vision immediately, picked up on the farm-like feel we were after, and incorporated that throughout the property. He and landscaper Tone Alexander, who designed the garden, created our dream space.’ 

Having enough space for their three young children and pets to explore freely, as well as communal areas for family gatherings, was non-negotiable. ‘One of my favourite places is the fire pit in the veggie garden, where we get to spend time with friends and family,’ says Angela.

Secret Garden Cottage | House and Leisure

Situated alongside the main house is a garden flora-inspired cottage that is another great source of joy for her. Natural light floods the space, which is filled with botanical-inspired decor, wood and natural-fibre accents, plants and greenery. It also houses a meditation room.

‘Sitting quietly in the meditation room and its indigenous garden is very special to me,’ she says. ‘We kept all of the cottage pane windows and doors from the original house – we’ve weaved in old and new throughout. In the meditation room, for example, we have pieces we found at Kalk Bay Railway House, like the stained glass windows and the beautiful trestle table, which each have their own story to tell.’

Secret Garden Cottage | House and Leisure

‘We’ll never forget everyone’s faces after seeing the size of the veggie garden initially,’ Angela recalls. ‘But we’re big believers in the “If you build it, they will come” philosophy, and it’s worked out well!’  

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