This home by the sea is complemented by a garden that is both practical and gorgeous!
What turns a house into a home? It may start with a house and a dream, but so much has to happen before you can call your house a home.
I realised this after visiting the House de Bruyn in Brackenridge, Plettenberg Bay. With nearly 360° vistas, my breath was taken away by the contemporary design of the home and the clever use of space, incorporating the surrounding landscape in every area of the garden.
The garden really begins with the beautifully planted verge, followed by soft perennials that greeted us as we entered the driveway, a mass of pelargonium tumbling over the retaining wall, interplanted with groundcovers and spots of colour.
As an architect with a vision, and who has an expert understanding of space and nature, Stephen Westraadt set about designing this beautiful home. Being an avid collector of botanical stamps, and researching the plants portrayed on each of his stamps, he has an extensive knowledge on flora. It was this understanding that allowed him to appreciate the importance of merging a building with its surrounding habitat, forming a dwelling that will complement the landscape and not seem overly intrusive. Having being involved in the industry for over a decade and designing many homes in the area, Stephen took aspects of estate living into consideration, as well as the climate, and also headed up the build as project manager.
The owners of House de Bruyn had been admiring the gardens created by GvH Landscapes in the area, so Stephen contacted Graham to work with them in achieving their idyllic garden. Graham has travelled the globe, and his appreciation and understanding of plants and space is evident in every one of his gardens. Since this particular garden is just 640m2, the home and garden design were intimately interconnected and each space was created for maximum effect, forming synergy between indoors and outdoors.
The soil at Brackenridge is low in nutrients and the natural soil profile for the area comprises a thin layer of topsoil and a very heavy layer of subsoil clay and rock. Graham has a firm philosophy that good soil equates to good plant growth, and with this principle in mind he imported truckloads of topsoil and compost to add to the garden before planting even began. Then with every hole dug, bonemeal and Atlantic Bio Ganic slow-release organic fertiliser were added to the soil.
Graham knew that with the harsh conditions and strong, salt-laden winds from the Indian Ocean his plant selection had to tough and well suited to the environment. As I walked along the lawn alongside the driveway, my vision was led into the main garden and the hills of Robberg Nature Reserve that lay beyond. To the left the staircase leading to the upper level pool area is softened by a mass of plumbago. In front, stepping down into the lowest level of the garden, a tapestry of flowering groundcovers, herbaceous plants and shrubs invites you to take time out on the bright salmon-coloured bench. With a pallet of mostly indigenous and endemic plants, Graham has created a beautiful balance between colour and texture. The pathway is flanked by santolina and a golden sedum as yellow as the sun. This meandering path leads onto the magnificent, innovative lawn.
Three terraced lawn platforms create a perception of space, and with strong angular lines running from the main axis of the home the bold architectural lines are mirrored in the garden. From the top floor of the home the lawn can be viewed as an abstract artwork, but Stephen tells me that each terrace was created with a specific function in mind. When the family have visitors there is ample space for groups to each enjoy a section. Toddlers could be crawling on the soft lawn on one while pre-teens enjoy a friendly game of cricket on another, and the parents could entertain friends on the third. A space inspired by the French architect Bernard Tschumi, associated with deconstructivism, this is the ultimate definition of where form meets function.
Each terraced boundary line joins into the soft, curved flowerbed at the far side of the garden, where large trees were installed to create an instant screen between the garden and its neighbour. To soften the angular lines, Graham planted santolina hedges along each lawn terrace.
Replicating the pathway from the main garden, a curved wall and walkway invite you into a secluded area of the garden as a sea of erigeron, bellowing over concrete pavers, curves its way to the front of the home. All along this path the garden is reflected in the expansive windows of the main entrance hall and staircase, allowing the home to seamlessly merge with the outdoors, while the planting mirrors the home’s interior colour scheme.
This house exemplifies how to craft a flawless transition between modern architecture and garden design, and at the same time be a welcoming home. It allows light and form to balance both living spaces, and in doing so the beauty and creativity of these areas are timeless.