WORDS Zelia Michaels Shangase PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes IMAGES Dook
Liedjiesbos, about three kilometres out of Bloem, is a dream come true for Henning de Bruyn and Dawie Human, who relish the opportunity to entertain guests in Free State style.
A portion of land once reserved for the cultivation of cut flowers and asparagus has undergone an astonishing transformation in the creation of Liedjiesbos, where an austere steel barn made way for a contemporary home and a guest house that reflect the owners’ personalities.
Establishing a guest house at Liedjiesbos was a no-brainer for Henning de Bruyn, who had cultivated a keen interest in the hospitality industry while working at various guest houses. His partner Dawie Human is also right at home here. A horticulturalist by profession, he has created a beautiful indigenous garden that is able to withstand the region’s icy winters, and grows fruit and vegetables to feed the household and guests. Henning and Dawie’s private home on the property is literally a scrapbook dream come true: Using a precious file filled with torn-out pages and circled articles as inspiration, the couple worked closely with architect Pieter Venter of p+arc to design it.
“We wanted something African with a modern twist, something fresh and beautiful that would work with the landscape and the region,” says Henning. Much like the guest house, which was built first, their house features sandstone and glass – one material being synonymous with the Free State and the other providing a means to allow as much light into the space as possible. “The idea was not to compete with the landscape,” says Henning. Corrugated steel doors and walls plastered with red soil feature throughout the house. “It anchors the building to the region, says Pieter. The house was designed to afford the owners a retreat from their work at the guest house.
Small gravelled courtyards afford privacy. The unfussy, rustic appearance of the exterior is mirrored inside, where the floors are mainly raw concrete and the ceilings plain wood. “We wanted a peaceful space that won’t stimulate thinking, which is why we kept everything natural,” says Henning. A stand-out feature is the indoor/outdoor shower, which draws a refreshing breeze through the house. The natural topography is enhanced by art and artefacts picked up on many journeys. Avid collectors, Henning and Dawie have amassed an eclectic assortment of pieces, which are scattered throughout their home and the guest house. “We love to travel and we love art. We don’t keep to a certain style; if something is beautiful we lug it home.”
Their only rule is to avoid very colourful accessories, preferring to introduce colour in the form of fresh fruit, flowers and art. Liedjiesbos is a showcase of distinctively curated decor and artworks. Henning’s current favourites are a set of Chinese horseshoe chairs and a locally made ceramic chandelier in the living room. Then there’s the 14 m-long brick wall featuring more than 300 words that can be read as either English or Afrikaans, a piece called Word Woes by renowned artist Willem Boshoff. Henning and Dawie and their dogs make for an unequivocally contemporary family, living on a quintessentially South African property.