An eye for design and colour
Home South Africa|October/November 2021
Marilouise van der Merwe has lovingly revamped a farmhouse at the foot of the Langeberg mountains that now glows with the same rich jewel tones as its surroundings.
Marie Opperman
Along the winding road from Swellendam through the Hermitage Valley to the Langeberg mountains stands a house with an interior that’s just as beautiful as its surroundings. Here, you can relax on the enclosed stoep for ages, drinking in the scenery. Four years ago, Marilouise and Jacques van der Merwe undertook the enormous task of renovating this dilapidated farmhouse to suit their needs. Today, Marilouise says happily: “Everything in my home brings me joy.”

When the pair bought Fazenda farm, the land, an abundance of water and the locality were key selling points. The house, which didn’t even have a proper front door, was ‘incidental’. Undeterred by the challenge, Marilouise undertook to make their new home liveable for her family.

“I enjoy projects like this,” she says. “Maybe I have more courage than common sense. I regarded it as a clean slate; I could make the house exactly how I wanted it to be.”

It has been transformed into an eclectic mix of heirloom pieces, modern elements, antique treasures and rich colours.

Beauty all around

Marilouise says the path that she and Jacques walked to get to this place outside Swellendam began in Kuruman. “We were at school together there. After we got married, we lived on the family farm until aland claim was granted on it. Nine years ago, I moved to Swellendam first, followed by Jacques a few years later.”

Marilouise initially lived in town, where she ran a guesthouse and restaurant from an historic old building. “During that time, I got to know the tourism industry. When the building was renovated and refurnished, I realised how much I love interior decorating. I have an eye for design and colour.”

The couple bought Fazenda farm four years ago. “The name means ‘big house’ or ‘estate’ in Portuguese,” says Marilouise. “Jacques farms with blueberries and I rent out cottages to holidaymakers. The locality is perfect as we are close to the N2 between Cape Town and George. We built two more guest cottages in addition to the two that were already on the farm and I did the interior decorating. They are fully booked on an ongoing basis.”

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