A shore thing
Home South Africa|October/November 2021
Despite a protracted renovation with multiple setbacks, these homeowners agree: their view made it all worthwhile!
Elna van der Merwe

If you buy a house by the sea, it better have an ocean view. So said one of Chris Willemse’s friends, more or less nipping his decade-long dream in the bud. “I had been looking at properties in and around St. James and Kalk Bay on the False Bay coast for a long time but none of them had a view. Those that did were simply too expensive; moreover, they were few and far between on the housing market. “Then in March 2018, a house with a sea view became available.

We went to look at it and found that it was exactly what we wanted. We put in an offer, it was accepted and the bank gave us a loan.”

Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Indeed, because after that nothing about this project went quickly or smoothly.

Chris and his life partner Dané Erwee are serial renovators, and both are master florists and gardeners. They are also the owners of Okasie in Stellenbosch and co-owners of the accommodation and function venue Johannesdal 1207 near Pniel.

“We’re passionate about fixing up spaces,” says Chris. “And it helps, of course, that we have the right teams that know exactly how we work.”

A stoep lifestyle

The end result is a beautiful home with two en-suite bedrooms; Chris and Dané call it a bungalow “because it’s small and compact and feels like your granny’s home, not a beach house”.

“It’s modern yet it has a homely feel. Other than the beds, we didn’t buy anything new as we have a shed full of things that we swap between our residences. We believe that if you see something you like, you should buy it and store it in the attic. We love a bargain – it’s our thing.” And the stoep? “We practically live on the stoep.

The wind never blows here. If it does, we close the shutters on the sides. The stoep really makes this house. We love sitting here, watching the changing colours and moods of the ocean. Or lying in the hammock and reading, or dining around the table. We’re very impressed with our stoep.” And it seems that guests who rent the house on Airbnb also enjoy every moment here.

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