PHOTOS Lien Botha PRODUCTION Sumien Brink WORDS Debbie Loots
A Free State farming couple tasked a young Knysna architect with the renovation of their cheerless holiday home and were pleasantly surprised to find that he genuinely walked the talk – with the spiders and baboons too.
Give architect Guillaume Pienaar a renovation project and you’ll soon find him a happy camper – sleeping bag and all – in the empty house, before he even puts pencil to paper. Things were no different when Guillaume was approached by a Free State farmer and his wife to jack up their small holiday house in Pringle Bay and make the utmost of its double-sided views of mountain and sea.
So, Guillaume took along his drawing tools, packed good coffee and got to know the square little face brick inside out: the good, the bad and the ugly. He woke up with the birds every morning, stood on the stoep with his cuppa, and scoured the landscape for the tell-tale signs of its relationship with nature. How the wind blew was vital; how the sun managed its way around the mountain too, which he examined while plotting and planning around the 2 448 square-metre fynbos erf in order to heed the light at the best angles and times.
The couple’s only other requisite was lots of space: for braaiing and visiting with their ever-expanding brood of children and grandchildren.
No man’s an island though and pretty soon Guillaume’s holistic approach of simply and beautifully solving all of the home’s design challenges (including its furniture and fittings) included the approval of his only partner during his recce: a rain spider. Would this eight-legged occupant deem his work good enough to still stick around afterwards, he wondered?
Not all that’s wild was welcome during the house-building scheme of things, however. Keeping Pringle Bay’s ballsy baboons and their families’ fingers out of the kitchen was a task Guillaume took on with gusto. He had the outsized glass sliding door, leading from the kitchen to the wooden deck outside, fitted with 150cm-wide aluminium frames.
It remains rock solid in the wind and is too heavy for a pesky primate to slide across and slip inside. What’s more, leave this door open during hot summer months and simply glide a separate aluminium shutter across to have free-flowing air while resting assured.
All of the house’s windows are fitted with heavy-duty latches, and although they open wide enough for circulation, the gaps are too narrow for even the tiniest of hairy thieves to squeeze through. To further ensure constant ventilation, Guillaume had small top windows fitted to all the bedroom and bathroom door frames. Balau wooden shutters also double up as a dramatic front facade while allowing the cool sea air inside.
Back to what happened to the face brick… Guillaume expanded and transformed the original three-bedroom, one-bathroom house to have five bedrooms, three en suite. He designed everything, from the wooden beds with their pull-out drawers to the benches and window shutter designs.
This private part of the house he smartly connected to the living area with an angled extension, doubling up as a bright storage space where glass sliding doors open onto a protected mountainside courtyard.
The extension leads straight into the expansive living space the family wanted, complete with a ginormous inside braai. Here, the views are all-round breathtaking: eat at the extra-long table in the kitchen while having a close encounter with the mountain cliffs and fynbos through the paned windows, or cosy up in a chair in the lounge area and gaze out over the blue sea yonder.
Total family holiday satisfaction with space and views for Africa… Mind you, a certain rain spider also gave it the nod.
His perching spot? Ask Guillaume.