Friday, 16 July 2010

A unique and wonderful approach to interior design

I took this pic, of a venerable door frame (gleaned, who knows how, from the palace of the Sultan of Zanzibar) lying in the elements, at Makouvlei Guest Farm in Barrydale. If this seems a weird way to treat a precious collectible, that’s because owner AW believes in things that last – no matter what you do to them.

The guest farm grew out of A’s unfashionable (at the time – in the late 1980s) wish to find a rural retreat far from the madding crowd. (The serious South African semigration movement – that shift from the city to the country – only really started gathering speed around the late 1990s.) He bought the farm (but in a good way) and wasted no time in, in his own words, ‘homosexualising’ it – planting gardens, installing sprinkler systems and introducing flocks of chooks, among other things.

A tells a whomping good story, and by his reckoning, several weird and wonderful characters then took over the upgrade/refurbishment/management of the guest farm (while A disported himself on tropical beaches and generally behaved badly, at the same time as growing a thriving carpet-manufacture business on a nearby island, and I’m not making this up). This entirely gratuitous gate arrangement, for instance, was commissioned and built by someone else in A’s absence – it is located pointlessly in the middle of a large garden. He looks at it with fond puzzlement now. ‘I suppose I should have it demolished,’ he says. I suspect he won’t.

But to get back to the Sultan of Zanzibar’s door frame… At some stage while all this was happening, A returned from his sojourns and decided that he wanted to start again from scratch. So he simply emptied the house of furniture and left everything to lie in the elements for, well, about two years. ‘What was still intact after that period, when I’d finished rebuilding, I took back inside,’ he says. I believe him. A lot of the woodwork finishes (door frames, doors, etc) are interestingly – and apparently genuinely - weathered. The Zanzibar door frame has only been lying in the rain for six months – it hasn’t done its time yet, but when it has, it will be the finished door frame for this ridiculously hedonistic double-bath en-suite bathroom (the bedroom it’s attached to has two queen-sized beds, pushed together).

Because A certainly has a keen instinct for hedonism. The water that supplies the farm comes from a spring on the mountain. ‘It’s bottled here, and sold elsewhere as premium drinking water,’ A tells us, then grins wickedly: ‘but we use it to flush our toilets.’ (He also has a good eco-sense: all the hot water comes from solar geysers, which you can see atop the buildings in the top pic) and even though we were there on a cold, overcast day, both Tanya and I had piping-hot morning showers.)

Above is the fabulous outdoor lounge area, and at left is the connected indoor one (equally fabulous, although the pic is blurry). The outdoor lounge area looks onto the pool; the pic below, of Tanya taking a pic, is notable for the amazing tree in the background – one of several on this gorgeous old farm.

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1 comment:

richard said...

they should put the zanzibar door in between the reidiculous gate posts dont u think?
by the way i have stayed at the farm..makouvlei near barrydale karoo and its just a perfect getaway from everythimg;no tv silences;stunning open spaces /walks/some pigs/sheep to play with ..and of cousre simply delicious karoo food...wanna reduce yr blood prssure pay avisit