houses, Seaside

Shape shifter

Micky Hoyle


Having vacationed in Stilbaai for twenty years, a Pretoria couple and their three children dreamed of owning a holiday home in the scenic coastal village on the Cape's Garden Route. 'We'd been looking for a house with a sea view for two years when we found this 40-year-old property,' the owners explain. They took their architect, Kobus Nieuwoudt, to view it in early 2013 and, with his approval, made the purchase. Wisely, they spent one holiday in the house before starting renovations – the best way to hone their to-do list.

Beautifully positioned, the 510m² double-storey house is situated in a quiet, quaint street, one row of height-restricted houses from the sea, with expansive views down to the old harbour on one side and to the lagoon mouth on the other. To Kobus its elevation is an asset. 'There's enough sense of privacy without losing the visual link to the street or being cut off from the village-life atmosphere,' he notes. 'Passers-by can't look in but you can look out.'

His brief was to create a contemporary beach house with a glorious view, plenty of open spaces, a braai room, and additional beds to accommodate the owners' guests and their children’s beds to accommodate the owners' guests and their children’s friends. Ideally it would blend in with neighbouring houses yet have a distinctive look. Eschewing traditional seaside-house style, the team decided on industrial-chic details and a palette of greys with pops of colour.

stilbaaiinsitu1 Solid pine flooring, stained with Rubio Monocoat for a natural-looking matt finish, was installed throughout the house. The curved sofa and glass-topped table are from Weylandts, the tub chairs are from Wunders and the small wooden table is from De Dekke Antiques and Collectibles Store. Removing most of the roof and replacing it with Zincalume sheeting not only gave the house a clean, contemporary look but enabled the architect to lower the pitch of the roof and therefore raise the ceiling levels inside for more spacious rooms.

During the nine-month renovation that began in April 2014 and was undertaken by a recommended local building contractor, the uneven roof line was levelled, certain interior walls were demolished, and a small garage wing was added. Though the basic structure was left intact Kobus changed the flow, opening up spaces and installing stacking, sliding doors 'so it becomes an inside-outside space'.

He split functions, housing adults on the first floor and youngsters on the ground floor, which has its own kitchenette. A front exterior wall was pushed out to make a fun zone for the children and future grandchildren, including quirky seating arrangements such as a beanbag area and a street-facing counter for leisurely people watching. The garage was converted into a library and bunk-bed room to house young guests, and for each of the couple's three children a suite was created with an en-suite bathroom and doors leading onto either a deck or small courtyard.

stilbaaiinsitu2 Nia and Mias Nieuwoudt in the cheerful bunk-bed room. The penny-farthing artwork was bought at an auction and the blanked is from Country Road. Read more about the update that this kid's room underwent.

While the house’s exterior was painted subtle shades of grey, inside Kobus and his wife Elsie 'played with colour', using splashes of red, pink, blue and yellow to add zing to a basic palette of pale grey. Special attention was paid to lighting: to complement the downlights installed throughout the house, the Nieuwoudts custom designed statement light fittings and used LED ribbon on the trusses in the living area both to create effect and save electricity.

The renovations were completed in December 2014, in time for the owners' year-end holiday. 'We love the stacking doors in the living areas, the kitchen with a view of the ocean and the separate area downstairs for the children with its white cement floor which gives you a beach-house feeling. The braai room is fabulous as its stacking windows open on both sides. We love the interior in general,' they enthuse. Whether gathering with friends in the braai room with its dreamy blue lagoon view or breakfasting at the street-facing counter and watching the characters of Stilbaai come and go, the family has found its perfect holiday fit.


Read more about this seaside home's modern transformation


Originally published HL July 2015