Set In Stone

By combining the original Table Mountain sandstone structure with modern fittings, the owners of Villa Beauroc, Bantry Bay, have created a sophisticated home with all the charm of its original heritage.
When Patrick von Oehlandt came across this Bantry Bay home eight years ago, there was no doubt in his mind. He was in love. It took him a year-and-a-half of negotiating, but eventually a price was agreed upon. ‘There was no way I was going to walk away from this incredible place,’ he says with determination.

One of the things that most attracted him to the home was its natural character, defined by the dominant presence of Table Mountain sandstone throughout. ‘You should see how it looks at night, the way the light reflects off the walls, it’s amazing! The original builder of the home was the last master sandstone craftsman in the country. He crafted all the sandstone you see with his own hands. It took years and years to finish.’

With this in mind, Patrick had no intention of interfering with this original feature. The stone is such an overriding characteristic of the 888m2 home that men of lesser vision might have aspired to tone it down completely or rip it all out, but Patrick’s dream was more inspired. Now the sandstone forms a backdrop to many of the main living areas, and instead of feeling oppressive, it is intrinsic to the appeal of the home. It’s only fitting that Patrick decided to name the home Villa Beauroc (‘Beautiful Rock’).

‘Although I endeavoured to keep most of the rock, there were some areas where I felt it was a bit too much. Around the fireplace, for example,’ Patrick explains. ‘I decided to install a stainless steel fireplace, convert it to gas for convenience, and introduced plaster for the surrounds, to make it more modern.’

Originally from Freiburg, Germany, Patrick holidayed in South Africa annually for 12 years. With a bachelor’s degree in real estate, he soon realised the value of owning property here. ‘I had been selling property for 16 years at that stage, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that Bantry Bay was the place to live,’ he chuckles. ‘Everyone seems to start at Camps Bay and then discover that in summer there is a wind called the southeaster! Here we are completely sheltered.’

He also loves the area because it’s quiet and secure, and not as busy as Camps Bay, where ‘the traffic in the summer can drive you mad’.

And of course, there’s that view. Almost every room in the home has a frontal sea view – expanses of blue stretching off into infinity. Robben Island, the Blouberg beaches and the distant hills of the West Coast form one side of the panorama, the endless Atlantic Ocean the other.

Large sliding doors and good-sized windows throughout the home make sure these views are optimised, though American shutters throughout ensure the harsh summer sun is kept at bay.

When Patrick bought the house, it was badly in need of alterations and he has subsequently been through a few different phases of renovation. ‘The first involved redoing all the bathrooms and making them en suite, as well as redoing the pool deck,’ he says.

The work of Philippe Starck was the inspiration for the bathrooms, which all boast large freestanding baths, heated towel rails and built-in hairdryers. A double-tier Balau deck was created, with a black-painted swimming pool taking up most of the lower deck and providing swimmers with unrestricted views across the sea.

Once the initial changes were complete, he rented out the home as a boutique lodge for the first five years, returning only for one month a year with his wife Wenke, who is a model and certified sommelier. They then renovated what was the double garage, converting it to an upmarket apartment for their annual visits. Today, this flatlet operates as a fully functioning independent guest apartment, which they let out to foreign visitors. It consists of a main bedroom with bathroom en suite and all the modern conveniences, including a flat-screen TV, 5.1 home cinema system and a kitchenette with modern finishings and fittings. Business has been brisk, and Patrick says he is able to let the flatlet throughout the year.

When the couple’s first child was born, they opted to make SA their permanent home. ‘We decided it was time to live our dream,’ Patrick says. And so began another renovation.Patrick chose to manage the project himself. ‘I wanted to be totally hands on. Having worked in real estate for so long, I knew exactly what I wanted.’

The first major change was the kitchen, with the couple deciding on Assirelli Italian Designs to create a bespoke kitchen for them. ‘I chose Assirelli because he really understands what clients want, and I love his clean designs. The first question he asked us was, “How do you cook?” This impressed me, because we used to own a few cafés and bars in Germany, so we wanted a substantial kitchen.’

The kitchen is an exercise in sleek design. It has CaesarStone worktops and is fitted with top-of-the-range German appliances, including three different types of coffee machine. ‘We love our coffee here,’ Patrick laughs. One of the most interesting features of the kitchen is a thin row of windows just above the sink, which looks out onto the Zen garden. Not only does it allow the light to flow into the room, but also brings the calm of the garden indoors.

Flow and form is everything to Patrick. The house is designed to create a sense of total tranquillity so that from the minute you enter, everything is in harmony. ‘It’s what I like most about the house now – the calm. When I come home, it all feels so relaxing. There’s a feeling of space, even though there are other buildings around us.’

Colours are muted – mostly shades of beige and cream. The floors were initially dark grey slate when Patrick purchased the home, but he realised that the heaviness of the stone walls required a lighter, more uplifting material for contrast. He settled on washed and coloured cement floors for the entrance hall and stairs and quartz seamless flooring for the two living areas.

Even the approach to the house takes the senses into consideration. Star jasmine, with its powerful fragrance, has been planted in raised beds along the steps leading up to the glass front door. A Japanese style fountain is situated in the entrance corner, so you are treated to the gentle sound of trickling water.

Décor-wise, the home has a definite Eurocentric feel, but Patrick has managed to infuse a bit of Africa as well, often with a sense of humour. Take for example the huge silver kudu horns in the entrance hall, the tiny carved manikin on the coffee table and the three ornate ostrich eggs in front of the fireplace for. Zebra and buck pelts feature in the study and some of the bathrooms. In Wenke’s bathroom, a springbok hide takes on a funky shade of red.

German precision is very much a part of Patrick’s agenda. Everything must balance; each object must have its place. The green glass ornaments on the wooden shelves in the main living area are all perfectly positioned. The dark wallpaper with embossed circles on the one side of the kitchen is mirrored in the woven grass circles at the back of the couch in the opposite sitting room. Even the quirky orange Eero Aarnio-designed Magis puppy in the main living area (a gift to his son) fits in perfectly. ‘I liken the home to an Armani suit,’ says Patrick. ‘I wouldn’t be able to live here if it was a Pucci creation!’

One of Patrick’s biggest challenges was getting the workmanship right. ‘I found that things had to be done again and again and again. But I wouldn’t rest until it was all done properly.’ He’s also had to face the chaos a small child (his son is two-and-a-half years old) can wreak on a home.

‘Much as we love our son, we didn’t want this to become a home that caters only to his needs,’ says Patrick. They’ve managed to overcome this in some clever ways. Big reed baskets in the corner of the main living area double as toy boxes, and there’s a sandpit at the back of the Zen garden with a specially designed cover to keep it out of sight. Instead of the usual child-friendly gates between the upper balcony and pool, Patrick’s installed custom-made gates that mirror the outdoor MBM patio set. The gates also ensure that anyone using the guest bedroom, which leads off from a study adjoining the main lounge, can have his or her own private seating area on the balcony. Upstairs, the ceilings are loft-style, with the original wooden beams creating an interesting effect. All rooms are sea facing.

Their son’s bedroom features white furniture, tastefully accessorised with bright children’s bedding, mostly blue in colour, with a fun wallpaper strip running its length.

The main bedroom continues Patrick’s vision of clean lines and calming furnishings. It leads out onto its own balcony, where the couple can take in the amazing sunsets. ‘I enjoy just lying on the bed and gazing out at the ocean,’ says Patrick. ‘I love that there is such a huge expanse of it to see, not just a tiny strip.’

To the left and right of the room are two full en-suite his-and-her bathrooms. Wenke also has her own dressing room, complete with a daybed on which to relax and a flat-screen TV.

But Wenke’s pride and joy when it comes to the home is the Zen garden outside the kitchen over which she presides with the assistance of landscaper Markus Elmau from White Cliffs Gardening. It’s a tranquil space, with large banana trees to protect it from prying eyes. A big wooden fish sculpture on a deck takes pride of place, while a few shrubs have been strategically placed to bring some greenery to counter the starkness of the gravel. ‘I wanted a manicured garden with almost no maintenance required at all, which is why we also have computerised irrigation,’ Wenke says. ‘And I wanted a place where I could do Pilates and yoga. The water feature, rocks and papyrus are my yin and yang.’

His renovations complete, Patrick decided to revisit his passion for property and joined real-estate firm, Gail Gavrill International. ‘I wanted to get back into the market,’ he explains. ‘I have so much experience and I know lots of people overseas looking for something to buy over here. It’s a big challenge because times aren’t that easy, but there are always people still looking for something in the highend of the market.’ He says many high-profile Germans who once holidayed in Spain and the Côte d’Azur are now spending the European winter in Cape Town. ‘There are so many opportunities around right now.’

One thing is for sure: if Patrick shows potential buyers around his ‘beautiful rock’ it won’t be hard to convince them that Bantry Bay is well worth the investment.

To view the whole article you can download the pdf here.