A seventies Karoo farmhouse is reborn in the hands of architect Jan Sauer Lambrechts and textile artist Phillip Van Staden.

The Northern Cape Karoo near Britstown is an experience like few others and sharing it with visitors from across the country and world is an honour for architect Jan-Sauer Lambrechts. Though he studied in the city, he has done many projects back home in this rural landscape and his most recent is a love letter to the countryside of his childhood.

“The big love for the Karoo is in my genes. I was born and raised here and if you drink the Karoo water once, you always come back.”

Jan purchased the property a few years back and started renovating the 70s style house soon after. 

He wanted a more modern space without changing too much of the structure of the building. Barring a few doors that were broken down to invite in the natural surroundings, the house is mostly in its original form with a few new trimmings. 

Jan opted for stone cladding both indoors and out and painted all window frames black to modernise it without major renovations. The Karoo being famously chilly in Winter, fireplaces in the bedrooms, living areas, dining room and kitchen were a must.

Much of the furniture in the house was purchased on auction and gives you a lived in feel. Jan loves mixing old with new and thanks to a good eye achieved an effortlessly beautiful aesthetic in the space.

Lots of rich colours like oranges and browns combined with black, give the space a modern feel.

The open access from the dining room to kitchen makes the house cool in Summer and warm in Winter.

With each of the bedrooms opening onto the patio, the light breeze ensures no aircon is needed from November to March. 

Step inside each bedroom and you’re immediately taken by the bespoke bed linen throws, created by Phillip van Staden.

Philip van Staden (Rafel Decor) with one of his Bed Linen Throws

Before becoming Jan’s official textile designer, Phillip van Staden was a biology teacher in China who suddenly could not return there when Covid landed in early 2020. Needing to create a new job for himself, he crocheted one and now creates magic with thread, wool and material. 

Philip credits his grandmothers for his practical skills and talents before sharing that his fascination with this new art medium for him, is in learning about the textures of natural fabrics, like handwoven Angora and Merino fibre.

“I follow my hands. As soon as I get a commission from a client for a bespoke piece, I go and scratch in my box to see what I have because I’m in the Karoo and I can’t go quickly to Durban or Bloemfontein or even Cape Town or Johannesburg for that matter. I have to start looking to see what I have and then I start from there,” explains Phillip.

He’s a big believer in recycling so collects off-cut materials and uses them wherever he can to enhance a project. 

He makes many throws without having seen the room and without getting a feel for the place. Still, they turn into unframed masterpieces that are a direct reflection of the local landscape and seasons.

“What I always keep top of mind is, not following a trend, and keeping it timeless and honest.” 

If this reimagining took nine months to complete, a fair share of that went into meticulous attention to every piece of décor looking like it belongs and thoughtful modifications.

Working with thick farmhouse walls, Jan found it essential to allow the rooms to breathe, and he had the perfect answer. That was a wrap around porch, and double doors being added to each of the rooms to once again open up the space.  

Twyfelberg Karoo Lodge homeowner and architect Jan Sauer Lambrechts

“With the Karoo deep in my veins, if I were ever to leave it, it would be a very heavy heart. I love the Karoo. It stirs my emotions, and it teaches you to make something from nothing, which is so much a part of the Karoo that is so close to my heart,” reveals Jan. 

If you’re planning a new experience, you can’t go wrong at Twyfelberg. Off the grid, out here, this is all the entertainment you need.


Stand a chance to winning a custom-crocheted masterpiece by Philip van Staden (@rafeldecor), reply on the competition post on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profile with #TheInsiderSA and tell us what you love most about the Karoo. The competition closes Sunday 22 May 2022 and Ts&Cs apply.

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