It’s monumental in scale and bold in concept – a rustic villa with a grand Italian feel and a grittily contemporary design style.
With its warm bare-brick walls, pale screeded cement floors and untreated-wood ceilings, the house perches on the cutting edge of current chic, yet it has a distinctive olden-day baronial ambience. The lofty location, immense high-ceilinged spaces and blazing fires in enormous fireplaces are suggestive of a castle.
On 200ha in the rolling hills outside Stanford near Hermanus, with glorious views across the valley, the house was built by Deirdre and Bobby Loxton three years ago as a home for themselves and their six children. Sheep, goats and Nguni cattle roam the fields. Ducks and chickens potter round the lawns and vegetable garden. Wild buck and baboons wander the fynbos beyond.
Deirdre grew up on a maize and cattle farm in the eastern Free State and suspects that the quality of life embedded in her memory from those days in the old sandstone farmhouse had a lot to do with how she envisaged the freewheeling areas of her Stanford home when she was planning it. ‘There was always lots of room when I was a child growing up,’ she says. ‘Later, in the more cramped cityenvironment, those generous family farm spaces became my dream.’
For her kitchen, Deirdre wished for ‘huge, wide counters to work at, big enough for us all to stand making pizzas, for example’, and they have made many. The pizza oven is in the vast open-plan living area that greets you as you enter through the weighty wooden front door. Opposite lies an equally spacious stoep and large elevated pool.
On one side of this impressive hall there’s a roomy fireplace with buck horns on the chimney piece, and comfortable sofas and a chaise longue grouped around. On the other, under one of the delicately coloured, pear-shaped chandeliers you see all over the house stands a long dining table surrounded by mismatched chairs, some of which once graced Rust en Vrede wine estate.
‘I don’t like to bring home things that are brand spanking new,’ says Deirdre. ‘Things that don’t have a life to them, that don’t tell a story. When many people have loved a special piece, that puts life into it. Some of the books in my library are over 100 years old.’
The worn Persian carpet under the table also came from Rust en Vrede. ‘They couldn’t understand why I wanted a carpet that was almost threadbare in places but that’s what I like to look for. Most of the carpets in this house are reclaimed. They give the rooms a real lived-in feeling,’ Dierdre.
An inveterate collector, she has put her collections of antique mirrors, prints, and vintage French plates and platters on the olive green walls and mustard-coloured chimneypiece of the sitting room. Her baby grand piano has pride of place in the centre.
The house is the brainchild of two interior designers, ArnaldoO’Shea, who is Deirdre’s son, and Dieter Rauch. ‘Bobby and I spent many hours with them fine-tuning the design to our exact needs.
I’ve worked for years in the hospitality industry and the brief was that Lockestone Farm should be a place we might eventually be able to use as a boutique hotel or event venue,’ Deidre explains, noting they’ve since hosted several weddings.
To get the feel of an old farmhouse, they sourced reclaimed windows and doors, and used beams left over from the ceilings to make attractive chunky doors for the kitchen cupboards. In the bathrooms they put plain brass garden taps and copper piping laid against the bare brick.
Deirdre is an artist and her paintings pop up everywhere. That creative instinct is evident in the novel quotes she has written here and there in the cement floors. ‘Life will always lead you to a better place. Live life!’ says one. The Loxton’s inviting home is just the spot in which to embody this philosophy.
This article originally featured in the June 2013 issue of House and Leisure.