With the all the requisite characteristics of a modern-industrial barn, from lofty pitched ceilings and corrugated roofing to solid raw brick walls, Hannes and Tina Maritz’ home has been brought to life out of a former dairy. “Old buildings have fascinated me ever since I can remember,” says Hannes, who together with wife Tina owns Kraak, a South African wedding and events company. “When our relationship was still in the early stages, I remember telling Tina that I wanted to live in a barn one day,’ he recalls, ‘and that I wanted to be able to pull my car right up into the living room and get onto the couch. It was the ultimate bachelor vision.”
After trawling through property sites to find his dream barn, Hannes soon landed on this storage facility – a century-old dairy in the small agricultural town of Wellington, located 45 minutes outside Cape Town. The building’s bones were in good nick, but it was desperately lacking infrastructure so the couple set out on a nine-month-long renovation installing plumbing and electricals and building a bedroom. While this reno didn’t include Hannes’ bachelor-fantasy car hatch, the simple yet effective configuration was perfect for the two of them: one long open-plan ground floor living space, comprising kitchen, dining and lounge areas, with their bedroom, a peaceful whitewash room, upstairs.
“When we found out Tina was pregnant with Jacob (now 4), we realized we needed a space for him. We got this crazy idea to build a Wendy house inside the downstairs area,” Hannes remembers with a chuckle. A few years later, the pair prepared to welcome their youngest child, Kranhold (now 1.5 years old), into the fold, and they knew it was time for another major renovation, eschewing the Wendy house for two additional living zones.
Big swathes of glass were installed to separate the kids’ bedrooms downstairs from the communal living zone, but still let the sense of openness on the ground floor prevail. Another narrow pane on the opposite side of the space intersects the wall, reaching right up to the roof of the top floor bedroom. True to the style of the building, the glass sheets recall old factory windows and make the room feel airier, more elegant and doubly spacious.
Tina and Hannes’ decor has undergone something of a metamorphosis, too, since the first time they moved in. “In the beginning, we tried to fit in as much as possible. We packed two lounge areas and two kitchen tables to fill up the ground floor,” Hannes explains. “And when we brought our furniture together it was difficult to make it work.” While Hannes’ style lent more towards extravagant pieces in bright, bold color, Tina’s aesthetic comprised elegant lines in white and oak. Today their look is a sophisticated blend of warm wood pieces in neutral tones with eye-catching vintage furnishings and accessories.
Avid collectors, the two hunt second hand and antiques stores in search of covetable antique objets and lucky finds. They especially seek out items from old factories in the area, rescuing retro pendant lights from becoming junkyard scraps. “We are at a place now where we both really feel comfortable with each item.” Most of the pieces that decorate the home have a story, like the extra-length Chesterfield couch that belonged to a friend who passed away, or the piano that sits in the kids’ room, inherited from Tina’s family, and the Esse stove, a rare find which took eight people to lug indoors. “I’m very sentimental,” admits Hannes, a self-confessed hoarder, who likes the proximity of an on-site storage unit for when the urge strikes to revisit the interior. “Because we are creatives, we get bored of things quite quickly, so we change it up a lot – and I don’t sell anything!”
“We’re constantly stimulated with events and designs of spaces, so we are trying to keep it very natural and neutral at home,” Hannes explains. Wooden tables and wicker seats texturally play off the soft velvety feel of the cushions, pouffes and an outsize deep-buttoned ottoman in the living area. Against the exposed brick walls and screed flooring, the earthy tan and leather tones are complemented by the wealth of indoor plants. “It’s a bit of a greenhouse,” muses Hannes, surveying the botanical element that pops against all the industrial finishings. Tropical hues spill out to the verandah seating area, which features a green velvet sofa set – the vestiges of Hannes’ flirtations with color – surrounded by fresh bursts of flora. “The house is built under two gigantic ficus trees and nothing can really grow under them, so we built the stoep to fill it up with plants. It’s very cool there in summer.”
As you walk from the stoep indoors, you can’t help but stop to study the detailed Delft tiling that covers the front steps. It’s then that you remember Kraak, their brand name meaning “crack” in Afrikaans, is also a type of Chinese porcelain which influenced the painterly blue-and-white Dutch ceramic in the 17th century. “We absolutely love Delft,” Hannes enthuses. It’s yet another of the couple’s precious collections imbued with history and character – just like their family home.
Photography by Warren Heath.
If you enjoyed this barn home, check out this residence in Iowa, renovated from a former factory.
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