Designed to invite the outside in, this pared-down space – that hugs the sand-dunes and sea on a wild South African coastline – provides a peaceful weekend retreat.
There are not many places in the world where glimpsing dolphins and whales in the water flanking your vacation house are an everyday occurrence. But the icy, deep waters of Britannia Bay, an unspoiled cove with three miles of whitewashed beaches, make this the ideal playground for these charming mammals. It’s this view that Cape Town couple Caroline and Manie Maritz chose to prioritize when building their remote holiday home here.
“I wanted to be able to see the ocean from wherever I stood in the house,” recalls Caroline Maritz, a former fashion designer, buyer and trend forecaster, who now teaches yoga.
“The house is built for families on vacation. The kids can literally run in from the beach into the pool. All my bowls are wooden and the floors are concrete screed. When you are relaxing, you don’t want a space you need to fuss about or worry that things will get broken,” declares homeowner Caroline Maritz.
The Main Bedroom has unbroken views of the ocean. Windows between the exposed beams and roof, a feature of the entire house, make both the sun and sky ever-present elements.
When they discovered the plot over a decade ago, Maritz’s vision for the house was so immediate she says she sketched the basic design for it on a scrap of paper while driving back to town after putting in the offer. “I wanted a u-shaped courtyard house, with a pool in the middle. The West coast is known for wind, so this was a great solution, but I also loved the idea of the home facing onto the pool and being able to watch everything from my kitchen, which is where you’ll usually find me because I love cooking,” explains Maritz.
Orienting the house in this way may have been a practical decision, but it’s had a profound impact on how visitors experience the space – the kitchen and living area are edged in water on both sides as a result. The doors on either side open completely, which makes it feel like you are “living on a boat,” notes Maritz.
Architect Luke Scott was tasked with interpreting the couple’s vision (they are both drawn to the simplicity of Australian beach house architecture), while accommodating the building restrictions for the area, which require white walls and pitched roofs. Durability and low-maintenance living were also on Maritz’s wish list.
“The house is built for families on vacation. The kids can literally run in from the beach into the pool. All my bowls are wooden and the floors are concrete screed. When you are relaxing, you don’t want a space you need to fuss about or worry that things will get broken,” declares Maritz.
When the bad weather rolls in, she says the house is an equally enchanting space to inhabit, thanks to the steel doors and windows, which seal the house. “It faces northwest, so when we get a winter storm the house is directly hit by it. The waves look like they are going to engulf the house; the wind, thunder and lightning is incredible and wild,” Maritz adds.
The house sits on an isolated small plot but the entire property is decked (another solution to thwart the wind and sand). A recent addition to the property is a square book nook that perches on the beach-fronted deck, providing a sunny sanctuary and a place where guests can retreat.
“A warm outside shower is a priority,” notes Maritz, and the experience of showering outside is not complete without a range of organic scrubs and soaps.
The house itself is designed for friends to spend a vacation together without feeling cramped: the bedrooms are separated into three distinct quarters. On the ground floor, there are two cozy bedrooms and a bathroom. The floor above, where the main living area can be found, is also home to the main bedroom and the children’s room with bunk beds. Tucked behind this, you’ll find a staircase that leads to two additional bedrooms. “It’s great for weekends away as each family can have their privacy,” remarks Maritz.
Other clever touches create both memorable and unique experiences. The warm outside shower is a much-loved feature, and ideal for warming up after surfing or swimming. The fireplace, clad with Table Mountain sandstone bricks from the West Coast, roars on wintery days, and it’s where everyone huddles after rambling walks on the beach. Maritz describes her retreat as “heaven,” and declares she literally relaxes as she walks through the door. One can see why.
The home is available as a vacation rental through thebeachhouse.co