Swartland Family Home Renovation

WORDS Michaela Stehr PHOTOS Supplied

An old and neglected farmhouse, originally built in 1882, has been transformed from its current sad state back to its former glory by local design studio Onnah Design.

The purpose of the renovation was threefold: To act as a residence for the current farm foreman, to provide a future place of residence for any of the Kitshoff family members, and lastly, to provide a future prospect of being transformed into a functioning boutique guesthouse.

“The designers followed a sympathetic approach to the renovation, keeping intact the main facade front with the original roof, gable, sash windows and doors while having a more modern take on the remainder of the building, with emphasis on a modernised look and feel of the interiors,” explains Onnah owner Hanno de Swardt.

Previously, the house consisted of many dark, impractical rooms (with a few add-on rooms over the years) that were not conducive to the design brief and current modern-day living. The only way forward was to completely reconfigure the entire internal layout – adding open plan living, free-flowing spaces and room for flexibility.

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The team started by opening up an enclosed kitchen and converting two smaller rooms into one large space, now the spacious laundry and scullery. Two bedrooms to one side of the house were joined and converted into the main bedroom with a generous, luxurious walk-in en suite.

Swartland Family Home Renovation by Onnah Design

The three bedrooms on the opposite end of the house were also reconfigured and now all boast en suite bathrooms, ideal for a guest house. A previous store room and a cold store are now beautiful bathrooms whilst one large room allowed ample space to add a third en suite.

The client was hoping to restore and retain the original wooden floors inside, but sadly, after lifting the carpets, these were found to be completely rotten. A combination of tiled and vinyl flooring proved the most suitable and practical replacement. In retrospect, these design interventions for the flooring turned out to be more in keeping with the desired contemporary interior and contributed positively to the lighter and brighter look and feel of the space.

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Original dark wooden ceilings were painted white, combined with new warm white coloured walls and light grey joinery transforming rooms into havens of light, bright calmness. In addition, larger windows were introduced to celebrate stunning views over the expansive countryside, allowing in much-needed natural light simultaneously. Strategically positioned downlights further enhance the required light levels inside all the rooms.

To accomplish the desired open plan concept it was necessary to knock down several walls which proved to be quite the challenge. After chipping off the plaster, the builders were confronted with extremely thick stone walls, some as thick as 800mm – an arm’s length! Removing these stones was no easy task for the crew.

And to add ‘oil to fire’, most walls were invaded by rice ants… which resulted in walls having to be demolished and built from scratch. Fortunately, a few stone walls were in good nick. It was decided to keep them raw and exposed, making for very effective, eye-catching interior features.

“As an architect, this made me extremely happy because these walls tell a beautiful, rich story — the story of a farm built in the 1800s. A story of traditional honest building methods with raw material sourced from the land,” explains Hanno. “A story of new beginnings for a farmer and his family once upon a time. A story now, of a beautiful and exciting future for the next generation. And what a huge privilege to be part of this transformation and protection of this important part of the Kitshoff family history and legacy.”

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