The Call Of The Karoo
Home South Africa|July 2021
When this creative go-getter’s birthplace beckoned him home, he bought the oldest house in town and transformed it into a masterpiece.
Elna van der Merwe

WHO LIVES HERE?

Jan Sauer Lambrechts

WHERE Richmond, Northern Cape

SIZE 150m²

Jan Sauer Lambrechts isn’t much of a talker; he’s a doer. He kept largely to himself when the Home team were photographing his house but as soon as they took a break, he served up a delicious freshly baked quiche – straight from the oven.

This gem that he renovated in Richmond in the Great Karoo is a testimony to his drive – as is the fact that he runs a local guesthouse; a quarry 70km away in De Aar; and a wedding venue, another 40km further, outside Britstown.

He’s definitely a doer.

His roots lie here but Jan Sauer took a two-year ‘detour’ in Cape Town after completing his studies in urban planning and architectural design. And then the Karoo called him home.

“If you come from the Karoo, it will always be in your blood. Besides, my whole family is here,” he says. “I came to the realisation that what I was doing in the city could just as easily be done here – this was a place in which I could find creative fulfillment.”

And, as he explains, one has to learn to improvise in the Karoo; you can’t just drive to the store to get what you need. When Jan Sauer bought the oldest house in town to convert it into a guesthouse and his own getaway, Seisoen Karoo Retreat, the run-down property presented ample opportunity for creativity.

Then and now

When you drive down Loop Street looking for Seisoen Karoo Retreat, the façade doesn’t draw your attention away from its neighbours. Jan Sauer planned it that way as he didn’t want the house to clash with the vernacular of the town.

Inside though, it’s a different story, with plenty of contemporary detail perfectly at ease with the simplicity of the original structure.

The open-plan living room appears even more spacious with its 3m-high ceiling and large steel doors opening onto the veranda. A deep stoep on the west-facing side provides relief from the summer heat inside the house, as does the stone cladding on the walls which ensures excellent insulation.

Shutters on rails slide all the way across the large glass doors; they not only help to keep the house cool but are also a sturdy security measure.

As you walk down the short hallway, striking floral wallpaper in the main bedroom catches your eye. This space, much like the second bedroom, is rather dark with smaller windows providing another measure of protection against the heat.

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