Country Calm


House Oosthuysen  

Size: 535 m² 

Construction cost: R10 million  

Landscaping cost: R800 000 

Location: Val de Vie Estate, Paarl, Western Cape 

Nestled between mountains and biodiversity corridors lies Val de Vie Estate, where Malherbe Rust Architects created a contemporary farmhouse for a family in search of country convergence. With minimalistic interiors by 360 Design championing the natural landscape, vintage furniture, and honest materials, every detail was carefully crafted to tell the story of the family who calls it home.  

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Site context 

Val de Vie Estate is located between the Paarl and Franschhoek Valleys, alongside the Berg River and between the Drakenstein and Simonsberg mountains. The estate is situated on old farmland, with the soil showing characteristics of clay and river stones. Therefore, proper soil tests and foundation reinforcement were necessary to avoid excessive settling cracks after construction. 

The property is fronted towards a biodiversity corridor to the east, in the direction of which the main view, living spaces, and patios are all faced to take full advantage of the breath-taking panoramas — continuing the ethos of country living. The building form is a response to shielding the living areas against the predominant south-eastern wind. 

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Client brief 

We (Malherbe Rust Architects) were commissioned by Mr and Mrs Oosthuysen to oversee all work stages of the project. From initial concept through design development, local authorities and Val de Vie HOA approval stages, and tendering and preparation of detailed documentation for a well-managed project on site. 

The design brief included a contemporary open-plan farmhouse with a minimalistic aesthetic to accommodate four bedrooms with en-suites, a double garage, open-plan living room, dining room, and kitchen, a scullery and laundry room, formal lounge area, staff quarters, and outside entertainment patios. 

The garden was a key element, and therefore the design response incorporated landscaped spaces as part of the building. 

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Design concept 

The dwelling is split into barn forms with pitched ceilings within which private, public, and service functions are located. Ancillary functions reside in the lowered, flat-roofed linking spaces. The west street-facing façades of the barns are enclosed for privacy and to mitigate heat gain. The east façades are open to capitalise on the views and biodiversity corridor.  

Low level walls, typically found on a Cape Dutch ‘plaas werf’, contain separate garden spaces to the street, while fencing to the back blurs the property’s edge along the biodiversity corridor. The pool is seen as an object in nature, while courtyard spaces between the barns become landscaped sanctuaries.  

Clean lines, concealed detailing, and a limited palette of materials and colours all contribute to the timeless and minimalistic aesthetic in this contemporary home. 

Sourcing materials  

The client, Mrs Oosthuysen, has an interior design background, which made the sourcing and selection of materials easier. We could then focus on the finer construction details and oversee installation processes. The joinery was a joint effort by Mrs Oosthuysen, Joos Joiners, and Malherbe Rust Architects. The interior design compliments the architectural aesthetic of the building and enhances the cohesion of interior and exterior spaces. 

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Interior insight 

Somehow serendipity played its part in crossing paths with the client in cyber space through the platform called Instagram. I (Anette de Jager of 360 Design) was working on a project in Paarl Valley when I received a message from Claire asking for an appointment to come and see the house they had just recently built. Our journey together started after the meeting. 

My design approach is firmly rooted in the principles captured by Victor Papanek: ‘Design must dedicate itself to nature’s principle of least effort. Maximum diversity with minimum inventory. Consume less. Use things longer. Be frugal about recycling materials.’  

Applying my proclivity for vintage furniture mixed in a modern contemporary narrative was the starting point, and eventually, after more than a year, the rooms started taking shape.  

The process of sourcing specific vintage items with the goal to recycle them can be arduous, but the benefits are so much more rewarding and soulful. Collecting timeless pieces and curating furniture and objects made by human hands and honest materials were our main objectives in the sourcing process. 

The possibilities in creating the interiors for this family home — their story narrative, setting the stage for their newly built dream home, and how each space unfolded — were far from only ‘wants and desires’. A deeper need to create by embarking on a journey where the intangibles became as much part of the essence of the home was required. 360 Design feels honoured and privileged to have played a part in creating this home with a sense of belonging and a country convergence for city folk. 


Architect: Malherbe Rust Architects 

Interior designer: Anette de Jager, 360 Design 

Landscape designer: Josephine Noyce 

Landscape contractor: Heimo Schulzer Gardens 

Contractor: Landman Clift 

Quantity surveyor: Hennie Kleynhans Quantity Surveyors  

Structural engineer: De Villiers & Hulme Engineers  

Photographer: Greg Cox and Riaan West 


360 Design 


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Malherbe Rust Architects  


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