Wellington Family Home

PHOTOS Daniela Zondagh PRODUCTION Sumien Brink WORDS Amelia Brown

It’s a new chapter for a former dairy in Wellington that has been converted into an atrium-inspired family home that is equal parts contemporary and cosy.

The Danish word “hygge” entered the mainstream lexicon late last year thanks mostly to a charming book titled the Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking.

Without a direct English equivalent, “hoo-ga” roughly translates as the feeling of cosiness. It is the creation of a warm, comfortable atmosphere that generates a sense of contentment and wellbeing, best shared with friends and family.

Hygge is manifest in the home of Hannes and Tina Maritz, this in part thanks to its laid-back country locale. Wellington may seem like an unconventional choice for cool young entrepreneurs, but it affords these creatives, who run a busy wedding and event coordination business, a break from the demands of the city, space to think and conceptualise, and plenty of hygge as they raise their two small boys. It is in evidence in the couple’s restoration, renovation and appointment of the double-volume mostly open-plan space.

The long rectangular building was originally a dairy and more recently a neglected packing and storage facility. The Maritzes have worked with the structure rather than against it to uphold its original features and character, like the exposed brickwork and approximately 120-year-old milking shed roof. What was once cold storage is now the scullery and pantry; the dairy manager’s office is now the study, its original metal ladder preserved in the wall. Zinc roof sheets have been upcycled into sliding cupboard doors in the pantry and a headboard in the master bedroom. And there’s the sun-filled deck at the back, built around a tree.

History is important to the Maritzes. They are both furniture collectors, with Hannes’s particular interest being vintage and retro. Because the house is open-plan, each area has been curated, and rather than collecting for collecting’s sake, every piece has to have meaning. “It’s amazing to think about the ‘life’ an item has had until it reached us,” says Hannes. “We surround ourselves with pieces that have stories, creating a nostalgic environment for us to live in.”

The open-plan space also offers flexibility. In the four years that they have lived here, the house has grown with them. The most recent renovations, instigated when Tina fell pregnant with their second child, have resulted in the floor-to-ceiling atrium-style steel doors that divide the bedrooms from the living area and are mirrored in the kitchen and dining room on the opposite side. They are arguably the design signature of the building, echoed in the front and bedroom doors, which open onto the stoep.

They reinforce the retro industrial aesthetic of the exposed bricks, ventilation and cabling, and the intentional greenhouse effect that Hannes has created with an abundance of indoor plants. Hannes’s vision for the renovation was executed – mostly single-handedly – by 70-something-year-old local handyman and craftsman Oom Gert Coetzee, whom they got to know through his work on a nearby farm.

Hannes does the drawing or finds the project, and Oom Gert executes the plan. He is now part of the family. Next, they’re thinking of extending into the back garden or building an en-suite in their bedroom. “This is my hobby, to renovate and to restore,” says Hannes. “It’s a passion project, and luckily we live here, so it’s not something I have to leave to go home.”

If hygge is the art of living beautifully, seeing one’s domestic and personal life as an art form, Hannes and Tina are artists.

See the before & after images of this home here.