Renovated Woodstock Cottage

PHOTOS Jan Ras PRODUCTION Sumien Brink WORDS Cheri Morris

A love of upcycling has been key to the artful renovation of their Woodstock home. Now, the Esterhuizens are ready for the next challenge.

After traversing the globe on a year-long sabbatical, visiting 35 countries, two Californian real-estate consultants felt like strangers in a foreign land when they returned to the States. That’s when they knew they had to realise their dream of moving to Cape Town. Jari is from San Francisco and Jasper is a Potchefstroom-born African-cum-American.

These globetrotters are, quite appropriately, flight-crossed lovers who met at O.R. Tambo International (then called Jan Smuts Airport). Twenty-five years of marriage later, they spend their days pursuing their passion for development, restoration and design through their company The J Factor, which involves the resurrection of neglected architectural gems.

“When we told our family and friends that we were selling almost everything we had to go and live in Woodstock they thought we were mad,” says Jari. “On our travels we became accustomed to living with no more than 15 kg of luggage and we realised we didn’t need all the stuff we thought we did.” And so the design duo sought out their next project in Woodstock, an area they consider the creative hub of Cape Town.

The 65-year-old house they bought was seriously dilapidated. In the capable hands of Jari and Jasper, who have worked together for most of their married life, it underwent a metamorphosis into an eclectic, spacious, light-filled home.

“The house was a wreck when we found it. It did not have any of the charm most Woodstock houses do: no wooden floors, no pressed-steel ceilings and no original wrought-iron fences. We decided to see this as a positive sign to take the design of the house in a totally different direction and began knocking down walls.”

On the front stoep, a restored vintage metal porch glider decorated with hand-dyed pillows catches the eye. It is a hint of what to expect inside. “We love upcycling,” says Jasper. “Very often store-bought items don’t fit the bill, the intended purpose or the budget, which necessitates having a creative alternative. For example, we found very old metal screws at a Stellenbosch market that were used on the railways dating back to the 1920s – we mounted them on beautiful old blocks of wood to use as towel hooks in the bathroom. And we repurposed an old gate from a jail in Mexico to serve as a headboard.”

Their home is dotted with a harmonious mix of restored vintage pieces and contemporary designer accents from around the globe. Ethereal floor-to-ceiling whites and earthy tones of wooden furniture are contrasted with a face-brick accent wall and bold, popping prints.

The thoughtful layout of the house offers fluidity between the living area and the back yard, which contributes to the undisturbed tranquillity and warm ambience it exudes. “We were hoping to create a space with a seamless connection to the outside that invites natural light to play as it changes throughout the day,” says Jari.

And with this project complete, they set their sights on the next one, be it in Crete, the Karoo or the Bo-Kaap. We’ll be keeping tabs.