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Klein Karoo Holiday Home

Text Deborah Louw Styling Sven Alberding Photographs Mark Williams Some three hours’ drive east of Cape Town along the R62 motorway lies the arid, rugged and desert-quiet region of the Klein Karoo. This is a majestically ancient landscape – and Cape Town creative couple Lynn and Sibley McAdam have built an appropriately respectful response to it, in the form of a stoneand- bamboo house that seems almost to have grown out of the mountain scrub. As owners of South Africa’s Block & Chisel Interiors, Lynn and Sibley have a professional interest in colour, texture and form. It was important to them that this holiday home, located on the Touwsberg Wolverfontein private nature reserve, reflected their decor ethos and, more importantly, was sensitive to the unique environment that is the Klein Karoo. A building team from Swellendam was tasked with obtaining the lightest possible eco-footprint here – so solar panels power up the lights and heating, there’s a gas cooking range in the kitchen, dirt tracks provide the only access, and there’s not a telephone pole in sight. The mountains have literally been brought into the house: packed stone on the exterior walls imitates the rocky surrounds, with the theme continued in the cladding on interior walls. It’s about as far from mainstream holiday-making as you can get. Yet comfort has not been compromised. There are luxuriously large, deep beds; soft towels; an everything-you-need kitchen (you’ll realise you don’t want a microwave); good showers; a stylish outside bath, from which you can soak up a spectacular Karoo sunset; ceiling fans to dispel the summer heat; and fireplaces for the winter frost. Classic, antique and Provençal pieces mingle with African references. The palette is predominantly drawn from the Karoo’s own tones, so there are slate sofa slipcovers, sand-coloured drapes and earth-hued walls, while large, strategically placed mirrors magnify the interiors and catch the vistas beyond. Seemingly sparse vegetation around the house masks a profusion of flora – this region is known botanically as the Succulent Karoo – and the couple have planted aloes with the tireless help of the staff at Swan’s Nursery in Oudtshoorn. ‘They epitomise what we love about the Karoo: warm, giving people. It was wonderful to make a connection with them,’ says Lynn. It’s also a house that’s completely at ease with the in-and-out rumpus of holiday activities, with practical tiling throughout, and an open-plan dining and living area that opens onto a generous timberbeamed deck. ‘We, and whichever family members join us, live out here. You really start to unwind after a day in this place,’ says Lynn. There are hiking trails and a swimmable stream, and mod-con luxuries inside for some holiday R&R, like a DVD player and an extensive CD collection. But the most entertaining holiday pastime, says Sibley, is to lie on a garden lounger at night and gaze at the stars. ‘You feel so small, and yet so much a part of something enormous.’ Block & Chisel Interiors,; Perfect Hideaways,


This year I predict that the trend that I call ‘rustic reclaimed’ will continue to get ever bigger – the return to old materials, repurposed. Colour will make a reappearance, but white will still be very big this year. What epitomises a holiday for me is, no pressure. We relax by hiking in the Karoo. Apart from this holiday home our favourite destination is our home house! My top summer entertaining tip is: don’t panic and keep it simple. My favourite place in the house in summer is the veranda. I’d describe my decorating style as eclectic. I’m inspired by the clever or stylish use of ordinary things. My interiors motto is, make it your own. My favourite piece of design advice is, be sympathetic to your surroundings. My pet design hate is ostentatiousness. A few of my favourite things are a kitchen table, glass candlesticks and big silver spoons. My most treasured item, this week, is my tapestry. This home was originally featured in the January/ February 2011 edition of House and Leisure.