city, houses, houses, Renovations

Grande dame

Micky Hoyle

Concealed as it is between two churches on Cape Town’s energetic Kloof Street, you’re unlikely to notice Heatherfield Manor unless you’re looking for it. Previously a rectory for priests of the neighbouring churches, the historical estate is now owned by real estate agent Hofni Schoeman and his partner, Albert Coetzee. Lovers of old houses full of character but in need of restoration, Hofni and Albert were on the lookout for a big property with an expansive garden within walking distance of town in mid-2013, when the opportunity to buy the manor arose. ‘I saw the estate for the first time in 2012 while working with a client in Tamboerskloof, and loved it,’ says Albert. ‘When it came on the market again, we were actually just about to buy a property in Fresnaye. A real estate agent alerted us that Heatherfield was for sale but pretty much told us that we’d have to make a decision right then and there if we wanted it – and of course, we did.’

The conservatory at the front of the home is one of the rooms where Hofni and Albert spend much of their time

The couple moved in immediately and knew they’d need time in the manor before renovating. ‘I believe that you have to live in a place for at least a year before you decide to make any alterations,’ says Hofni. ‘You need to see how the house changes with the seasons, and only by living in it do you pick up on all its nuances.’ Before the site became a parsonage, the gardens were much larger, extending to the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. The previous owner started to sell off pieces of the land and the plot where Heatherfield stands today was donated to the church. Hofni and Albert love the history of the property as well as the fact that celebrated British architect Sir Herbert Baker designed it in 1895. ‘We never intended to change the manor’s original structure or drastically alter it as we wanted to preserve the style. We only ever planned to restore it and modify it slightly to our tastes,’ says Hofni. The tiles, staircase, stained glass windows and shutters are all original, and most of the house’s structure is still in place, too. Working with architect Craig Kaplan and project manager Douglas Austin, the couple converted the bedrooms from six small rooms into three large ones. The breakfast room easily flows into the newly-renovated kitchen and the conservatory was also restored.
A painting of Albert's mother and the couple's three Yorkshire Terriers, by Mia Chaplin, hangs in the entrance hall

‘We wanted to maximise the views in every room. Now, no matter where you are in the house, you can look out over the Mother City – whether it’s Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, the harbour or CBD, there’s a little piece of Cape Town visible everywhere,’ says Hofni. The gardens also received a huge overhaul. ‘I always wanted a formal garden leading to the entrance of the home, so that’s what we created,’ says Albert. ‘There used to be a parking lot at the front of the house and unkempt lawn below the front staircase, and we redesigned the area with our landscaper, Franchesca Watson. It’s now one of my favourite parts of the property.’
The wallpaper is a blown-up Dutch artwork that the couple were drawn to as it looks like it could be somewhere in Cape Town

As avid art collectors, Hofni and Albert have adorned almost every wall in their home with artworks by both established and emerging artists, and in the dining area you’ll find beautiful wallpaper created from a Dutch piece depicting a landscape that looks very similar to Cape Town. Two other works that stand out are a portrait of Hofni’s mom, commissioned to The Great South African Bake Off’s Alice Toich, and a portrait of Albert’s mom and their three Yorkshire terriers, painted by Mia Chaplin, who merged two photographs of Albert’s mom and the dogs to create the piece. Hofni is an animal lover and the pets are key to the home – the couple has three Yorkshire terriers, a cat and an array of other farmyard friends, including chickens, a pig and a rabbit, all with names. When asked what they love most about the location of the property, both Hofni and Albert agree that it’s the energy of the surrounding area – the bustle of Kloof Street, the fact that they can walk pretty much everywhere and also, of course, the views. Albert notes, ‘People often ask if we are bothered by the noise of the city but for me, it’s a sign of life; the sounds, the vibe, people going about their daily tasks – I love it! We’re not ready for the quiet life just yet.’
Wooden elements feature heavily throughout the manor, such as the cupboard which sits below a collection of artworks by BJ Broekhuizen

Heatherfield Manor is available for exclusive events on request. Call 082 921 8573 or email This home originally appeared in House and Leisure’s Before & After issue.