watch: a video tour of chef jacques erasmus' Karoo home
You can’t help but be drawn to the ochre-coloured gabled house on the edge of the road in a pretty Klein Karoo town under the mountains. It’s the area’s oldest inhabited home, predated only by the museum. Heart-liftingly rural in its simplicity, it has baroque-style holbol gables – that clean-cut Cape Dutch design whose wavy contours alternate between hollowed and rounded – and has been painted the same warm hue as when it was first built in 1854 by a young man for his parents.
It’s the area’s oldest inhabited home, predated only by the museum, and its exterior has been painted the same warm hue as when it was first built in 1854.
‘When we stripped the structure to its bones, under all the limewash and paint, that first layer was a shade of ochre,’ says Jacques Erasmus, the traditionalist-minded designer who spent two years restoring the building with his partner Hein Liebenberg. This savvy and imaginative pair acquired the abode four years ago for weekends away. They named it Jonkmanshof.
Jacques is the chef and owner of popular Cape Town restaurant Hemelhuijs, which is why for him a key part of Jonkmanshof is the kitchen. With decor inspired by the farm-style cooking area of his childhood, this one has the original rietdak ceiling and a new herringbone brick floor. In the centre is a long, rustic dining table made of reclaimed yellowwood planks. Copper pots and pans hang on the walls, salt-glaze pottery jars line the shelves, and there’s even a solid old Belgian butcher’s block – its broad surface deeply worn above the drawers where the butchers once stored their knives.
‘For us, the kitchen is where everything happens,’ says Jacques. ‘Dogs lie under the table and curious chickens walk in from the coop to see if there’s anything on the floor they can peck at. It’s a place where family and friends are always welcome and where we spend time cooking, sharing impromptu meals, having serious conversations and truly experiencing the pulse of life.’