Charlotte Daneel runs the Sneeuberg Nature Reserve, 14500 hectares of pristine land remarkable for its outstanding beauty and remote location. A fertile valley runs through the estate, providing grazing for zebra, eland and other wildlife. Kliphuis is a beautifully restored lodge that sits on the estate, and is a haven that mixes natural materials with modern day comfort. Charlotte is an interior designer by trade and Kliphuis bears the stamp of her unique style. We talked to Charlotte about the challenges of renovating such a remote property.
Where you live is extraordinary for its isolation and beauty. How long have you lived there?
We have lived there for 10 years. The previous owners were very good family friends. I spent many childhood vacations there, so have loved it for many years. There are challenges to renovating anything in such a remote spot, but when you realize that many of the homesteads in these areas were built 100 years ago when materials had to be hauled over bad roads by ox wagon, it puts everything into perspective.
You use a lot of local materials, textiles and crafts in your interiors. Where did you source them from?
All the poplar beams are from our own land. We re-used ironstone posts that had been chiseled into fences and doors as lintels and shelving - although a lot of the original posts are still standing. The stone was collected from all over our land. There are still quite a few local builders who are masters at stone construction.
We love how you have mixed industrial and rustic styles together. What was your inspiration?
To have wooden kitchen cupboards built and fitted in a remote area is impractical. I once saw a house in a French magazine that had concrete counter tops, and it just clicked. The builders were excellent craftsmen in using concrete. We did attempt a bath in concrete, but that just did not work.
Tell us how you went about renovating Kliphuis?
Before we could start, the builders had to build their own dwellings first as they needed to live onsite - it was too far to commute. They went home every second weekend. Then it was simply a matter of taking the old ruin as the basis, and it grew organically. The stone floor in the kitchen is original. It appeared from under a metre of sheep’s dung. Sheep used the old ruin as their shelter for at least 20 years.
What advice would you have for someone who is about to renovate their home, and who is starting with a completely blank canvas?
One thing that always works for me is to take down walls. Most old houses have many small rooms that are very claustrophobic. A huge room with different functions is very liberating.
Who are your favourite artists and photographers, and what would be in your dream fine art collection?
I love sculptures. The three dimensional aspect gives a lot of depth to spaces inside and out. We have collected Dylan Lewis in South Africa, and Pepe Gregoire of Holland. Strydom van der Merwe is a South African land artist. He creates something in a landscape, then photographs it, and then his creation disappears again. Fascinating work.
Lastly, what is your favourite Lumitrix print?
I think Astrid Harrisson’s prints are very striking.
Several properties on the Sneeuberg Nature Reserve are available to rent. Visit the website for more details www.sneeubergnaturereserve.com