Stilbaai Farmhouse

PHOTOS Jan Ras PRODUCTION Sumien Brink WORDS Ashraf Booley

A house on a farm near Stilbaai is perfectly in sync with its natural setting.

The beauty of this place is that everything opens up, with the doors sliding into the cavity walls, say the couple who own the spectacular Heaven’s Door near the coastal town of Stilbaai. Set on a rise overlooking the Goukou River on a 30-hectare farm, surrounded by lush greenery, the house of brick, stone and glass is the ultimate letting-the-outside-in living space.

Judith and Francis knew exactly what they wanted when they set out to build their 360 m2 house. Both of them have an eye for and keen interest in interior design and decor, so it’s no surprise that they took creative control of the design. “We did a rough drawing of what we wanted, and gave it to a draughtsman to knock into shape.”

Builder Richard Marshall of Marshall Enterprises in Stilbaai realised the blueprint, and the project took roughly eight months to complete. To take full advantage of panoramic views of the river and grassy pastures, the building team had to excavate about 7 m down to level the site.

“The excavation was extensive, as we wanted the house north-facing and all on one level,” says Judith. Large sliding doors that disappear into the walls open the house to 200 m2 of decking, allowing for unobstructed vistas. What makes the house stand out and at the same time blend in with the natural environment is the expanse of glass juxtaposed with bagged brick. Local business Stonehavenco Bluebells Nursery was responsible for all the exterior work, which included stone walls and landscaping.

“Our home is industrial with glam interior finishes,” says Judith. “We love the mix of the two.” They had the look conceived by the Isabelina Interior Concepts team. A combination of heavy black metal beams and stone excavated on the property became the design signature.

They decided to keep the decor unfussy to make the house easy to clean, since it is a farmhouse, after all, and the two of them live with five cats and five dogs. From the sofas to the mirrors, Heaven’s Door is adorned with Isabelina furnishings and accessories, apart from a few beautiful antique heirlooms, like a walnut dressing table in the main bedroom. The mango-wood top of the 3,4 m-long dining table is from India, sourced by Isabelina, and the cast-aluminium legs were locally made.

The mirrors, which an artisan made for Isabelina, also help to bring the outside in by way of reflection. For the couple, it was all about creating an outdoorsy living space. “We love having all the doors wide open. It leaves you with the feeling that you are outside in nature.”