My work offers me the opportunity to visit so many incredible homes and I feel especially joyful when I witness how a makeover can effect magical results. Transforming your home does not need to cost a fortune. It’s about identifying the untapped potential and envisioning a result that enhances both practical living and personal lifestyles. To create a masterpiece, you simply begin with the basics. Trawl the auction houses, and the whole earth, if necessary. Source those textures, materials, and colours that resonate with a palette that feels precious to you. Layer your interiors by adding wallpaper, art, hand-crafted tiles and other unique vintage finds. Create a Curiosity Cupboard and fill it with treasured collectables. Start this way. So many of our favourite Hideaways stand apart simply because they have been lovingly restored and cleverly curated
Perfect Hideaways Invest specialises in showcasing unique and bespoke properties in magnificent South African locations. Eikehof is a perfect example. This Worcester-based 128-hectare property featuring a 1790s Cape-Dutch homestead was purchased through us in 2019 and has since undergone a worthy renovation.
In this article, Jenny van der Watt, one of four owners, shares the journey toward transformation.
The Eikehof experience begins at the first glimpse of the signature poplar trees that line the arrival avenue. They are a defining feature.
According to the Celtics, the poplar is associated with vision, transformation and victory. How apt. Synchronicity is surely at play here. After all, whilst creative and architectural expertise was most certainly applied to a blank canvas, it was the gifted hearts of the landowners that pulled this gracious homestead from its distant roots and planted it in the rich soil of the present time.
Dear reader, let’s face it. Any person who has both ventured and gained from the grit and grace required to brave an ambitious reno-project will agree that embracing endurance is essential. When the sound of hammer and drill incessantly pierce daily peace, patience must prevail. Until the dust settles, at least. And, even then, there’s always a snag or another challenge to face. Times of celebration, too.
The landowners of Eikehof include Cape-Town based Deon and Jenny van der Watt and their family members, Leart and Nerine Petrick, who reside in Namibia. These visionaries are the intrepid foursome who tackled this grand make-over project which prevailed despite the lockdown period.
When we purchased the property in 2019, we loved the fact that Eikehof housed history. The Manor House’s original charm remained untouched and the H-shape of the traditional Cape Dutch architecture reflected excellent proportion and simple symmetry. This expressed itself in large balanced spaces made complete by the structural addition of thick walls, solid beams, high ceilings, wooden floors and wide windows with internal shutters. Few houses these days offer windowsill space to perch on. In ours, you can settle in on a cushion with a good cup of coffee and admire the wrap-around mountain views.
Primary change focused on the three cottages, one of which was made up of many small rooms. Here, the building team bashed through the dividing walls of The Oude School Huisje to create more contemporary living spaces. The fresh new look now offers rest and respite for welcome guests who can laze in a wood-fired hot tub. An adjoining cottage is called De Kippe Huisje, and Uitzicht is positioned further up the mountain.
‘Kippe,’ the Dutch word for chickens fondly recognises a tame brood of silky hens called Coco, Lucy, Sophie and Ginger, all of whom can be found flocking around Adrianus, the big-guy rooster. Or, you might find them in the house, if they encounter an open door. In the least, their free-range eggs are a lovely discovery, to be found in a basket, on arrival.
Then, there’s the old dam which was jazzed up and became a snazzy rustic swimming pool of sparkly water. Finishes include the surrounding slatted wooden deck, a curved stone wall to ward off unwelcome wind, and a broad water step to loll on if the nearby cargo net hammock is already nabbed. Five hundred Pinotage grape vines surround this area. These are gaining root strength right now, the wine press will follow later.
A new braai area echoes the old-fashioned indoor hearth in the Manor House kitchen and for old-era reminiscence, a gable was added too. It’s a perfect country setting for an outdoor cook up.
Jenny is the epitome of a resourceful hunter-gatherer. After trawling websites, shops, auctions and marketplaces, she has filled the ample rooms with a pretty special mix of both old-world and contemporary pieces.
I wanted guests to be able to set a beautiful table and find all they need to entertain in my cupboards, even be surprised by more. I also believe in creating ambience and offer brass candelabra for candlelit evenings, or guests can dim the chandeliers down too.
There’s a certain sense of decorative repetition that compliments the architectural symmetry. The Dutch willow blue pattern is one such visual narrative that appears in the Delftware crockery collection. Shards of this earthenware were discovered when the owners were excavating the ground to plant olive trees. We see here, how history always has a way of showing up, somehow. Perhaps, long ago, a kitchen maid discarded cracked items she considered useless, only for them to reappear, two hundred years later, to act as inspiration.
When it came to the colour palette, Jenny introduced a reflection of outdoor tones. In keeping with a continuous expression of flow and balance, you will find textural touches in one room that pick up again, in another. Rough pottery shapes that were once ink pots resonate with the kitchen’s terracotta floors, basket-weave mats echo the hues of stone and sun-bleached grass, deep-green velvet chairs, the tones of treetops and secondhand Iranian Persian rugs are thrown over original Oregon floors that are nourished in beeswax polish and linseed oil.
Fireplaces abound, including that original hearth in the Manor House kitchen, double-sided versions in the lounge and games room and custom-made ceramic, wood-burning Fire Pots in the cottages. Once again, it’s all about the atmosphere. And warmth, of course. Jenny envisions her guests sitting deep after dinner on large comfy couches whilst enjoying good conversation and meaningful connection. This is la belle vie.
In the bedrooms, you will be sure to sleep in crisp cotton linen under thick, weighty duvets or can slip into a copper-colour throw for a restful afternoon read. The grand and elegant four-poster bed that claims pride of place in a Manor House bedroom is suggestively royal. This previously-loved piece was shipped down from Johannesburg. Brass beds also feature.
The expansive bathrooms deserve a mention. They are lovely social spaces that sport decorative mirrors, chairs and warm wood cupboards. In the Manor House and The Oude School Huisje Cottage, guests can dip into cast iron ball and claw bathtubs. Crisply-tiled showers are available too.
And lastly, there’s the garden, which Jenny is developing with designer Tone Alexander. Nine hundred trees were planted into the fertile soil that is irrigated by an underground water system.
Whenever we arrive at Eikehof, I soak up the abundance around me. Everywhere you look, nature is either leaping with joy or gently resting. In the summer months, the scent of orange blossom fills the air, and the branches of our lemon trees bend under the weight of their generous fruit. In the winter months, we step into hiking boots and walk up through the blue gum forest to the dam, which is the source of our natural water.
Yes, the gardens are most pleasing to the eye. In one spot, there’s even a touch of Versailles. It’s a little pocket of France.
Two hundred Frantoio and Mission olive trees have just been harvested to produce 80 litres of chartreuse-coloured, deep and fragrant oil. Guests will find their bottles on the kitchen counter, next to the fresh eggs.
There are almond and pecan-nut trees, citrus orchards, plums, nectarine and peach trees, too.
Before we end off, we must give an ode to the mountains. Eikehof is tucked into a trio of mountains which are especially majestic at the end of each day when the golden-pink light of dusk quiets everything down.
In those moments, it’s as if the mountains move closer to greet us, to give us a glimpse into the secrets that lie in their shadows. And, when the winter snow begins falling, you could be in Switzerland – or heaven.
From bush to beach, from mountains to veld, Perfect Hideaways Invest has a unique portfolio of over 300 hand-picked escapes for sharing precious holiday time. But while its one thing to rent a beautiful property, it’s quite another to own your own, and something many of us dream of – and an increasing number make their reality. This is why Perfect Hideaways has added a sales division to its highly sought-after rental portfolio of holiday homes. Perfect Hideaways Invest offers a range of homes from home in unusual, quaint or highly desirable locations. Many of these are hard to come by if you don’t have access to that word-of-mouth network that continues to bring an astonishing array of properties. Many referrals are from Perfect Hideaways property owners, and many of the properties we offer for sales are from our rental portfolio. After changing hands they often remain within the rental stable, allowing the new owners to generate the much-needed revenue that will allow them to renovate, refurb and add on the elements that will make the hideaway truly theirs!
Contact us on https://perfecthideawaysforsale.co.za