The McClelands are proud to call themselves typical South Africans. “We love to light a fire, regardless of the season – but after many wintery evenings of peeping through the window to see if the coals were ready, we’re delighted to finally have a proper indoor braai area,” Cathryn says. Patio furniture from Bowhome
When Cathryn and Warwick McCleland bought their Port Elizabeth home in 2014, a beautiful big tree in the middle of a grassy patch in the yard sealed the deal.
“It created such a lovely atmosphere, regardless of the fact that it was an alien syringa!” says Cathryn. “But there was no outdoor area in which to make use of our city’s year-round temperate climate and the stoep was only 1.5m deep; any work we wanted to do would involve cutting down the tree, which we really didn’t want to do.”
So they made the most of the space until 2018 when a storm caused the syringa to split in half. This was the push they needed to create the outdoor space they wanted: an enclosed entertainment/dining area of 28m² leading out onto a 30m² deck.
“At the moment, our family consists of just the two of us and our two dogs but the stoep has already served us well – whether it’s a braai for two (a weekly occurrence) or a party of friends,” Cathryn says.
“We haven’t enjoyed a summer with this new addition yet but it’s safe to say we’ll be living in this part of the house for most of the sunny season!”
The pitched roof in the newly built dining and entertainment area adds a modern feel to the 60-year-old home. “The ceilings in the rest of our house are quite low, so we took the opportunity to have high exposed beams in this space to create a light, spacious look,” Cathryn says.
Table and chairs from Second Time Around
As in the McClelands’ new dining room, grey remains a popular floor colour, says Joanne Sykes of Cemcrete.
A stacking window was added to the indoor area; it looks out onto the deck. The deck was made with balau. “We decided to leave the wood unsealed because we love how it ages naturally and eventually turns various shades of grey,” Cathryn says. The stoep roof is made of pre-coated Aluzinc sheeting.
The couple opted for concrete counters on either side of the braai with plenty of storage space underneath and a prep bowl and tap.
Window made and installed by Apex Aluminium; pendant light from MRP Home; rug from Bowhome
The shape of the large aluminium-framed window on the right was inspired by the overall profile of the new entertainment area. “When we envisaged the space with its shape and exposed beams, we couldn’t imagine a standard window on that end of the room – it had to be special,” Cathryn explains.
“Neutral floor colours such as grey, beige and cream create a timeless, harmonious canvas to give centre stage to more changeable shades and textures when it comes to furniture and décor,” she explains.
The McClelands opted for a screed floor finished with Cemcrete Colour Hardener in Grey. “This product is a cement incorporating hard-wearing aggregates, light-fast pigments and additives that set rock-hard,” says Joanne.
“Colour Hardener floors should be designed with expansion/control joints incorporated into them; this will minimise the risk of large unsightly cracks when subjected to big changes in temperature and soil or foundation movement. Panel sizes should be as symmetrical as possible and should not exceed 9m2 .”
I’d say our style is minimalist and monochromatic with eclectic and bohemian touches here and there.
Nina and JC van der Westhuizen had their Darling home, including a concrete pool and two stoeps (one leading out from the home’s living area and one attached to the guest room) built in 1991.
“We wanted the stoep at the back to be an extension of our home, rather than a separate space,” says Nina.
“So it’s linked, physically and aesthetically, to the house – the only difference is that it’s outside.”
The romantic stoep is ideal for al fresco dinners on summer evenings and it’s sufficiently sheltered so the couple can enjoy long lunches on colder days too. “We use it almost daily as it’s so tranquil,” says Nina of the 5 x 3m space which looks out onto the pool.
The pool has no filtration system. “We use one of those chlorine floaters to keep the water clear and empty the pool once a year before summer to clean it properly,” says Nina.
Nadine Naidoo of Meik Architecture and Design recommends seeking help from a professional such as an architect before building an outdoor shower or adding any new drainage points to the existing sewer system. “This ensures that the structure is sound, that your plumbing is compliant and that you have no issues if you decide to sell the property,” she says. Consider the following:
• As soon as you build masonry walls taller than 1.8m to enclose an outdoor shower, plans need to be submitted to the local authority. If the shower is enclosed with non-structural elements, such as the timber screen the Van der Westhuizens used, no plan is required.
JC built this outside shower using pallet wood. The concrete floor and exposed pipes add to the farmhouse feel. “We love that it’s so close to the pool, which means no traipsing pool water inside the house,” Nina says. “We added a basin so that it can be used as a proper bathroom – male visitors often shave here.”
However, it is still important to take building lines and sewer servitudes into account as no structure can be constructed over these areas without special applications.
• When it comes to outdoor shower flooring, go for something non-slip.
• When plumbing an outdoor shower, consider the position of existing water supplies and drainage and whether there is adequate fall to allow for sufficient drainage of run-off water.
• Consider how you will illuminate the outdoor shower if you plan to use it at night. Fittings need to be outdoor or bathroom compliant.
• Make a space to store toiletries and a towel or two – this can easily be overlooked!
When Belinda and Gareth Mountain moved into their Newlands, Cape Town home in February 2018, this outdoor space consisted of just a narrow stoep with a slippery tiled floor outside the living area.
“On the plus side, there was a pizza oven and because we knew we wanted to spend more time entertaining out here, we decided to remove the tiled floor and create a 100m² deck that extends along the boundary wall, incorporating various elements such as the pizza oven and fire pit – which we can use depending on the occasion or the weather,” Belinda says.
“This versatility means I can lie in a hammock with my book while keeping an eye on the kids in the pool, or our family of four can enjoy supper together at the table. We can also host a whole bunch of families and make pizza together!
After dinner, we relax at the ‘conversation pit’ to make the most of the fire.”
Previously, there was an old built-in gas braai next to the pizza oven; it was removed to improve the flow in this area.
Gareth designed the fire pit with Clifford Lotter of VC Fit-Out, who also built and installed the rest of the deck. “This corner is the only spot on our property where the last bit of sun shines, so we wanted to make a special gathering space here,” Belinda says. A deck is perfect for a backyard like this, says Clifford. “Compared to a lawn, it provides a low-maintenance solution and can handle high traffic.”
Gareth made the brazier from an old washing-machine drum. He cleaned it with a drill and a steel wool attachment, installed legs and painted it with heat-resistant black paint. “It creates beautiful patterns at night with the firelight shining through it,” Belinda says. “And I like the idea of upcycling and making something useful out of an item that would otherwise have been thrown away.” Yellow cushion and rug from MRP Home
For this deck, they opted for Rhino Wood. “Rhino Wood is biodegradable and it’s sourced from sustainably managed plantations in South Africa,” says Clifford. “It’s also treated against moisture, pests and rotting and it’s heat-treated (with all natural ingredients) which makes it ultra-durable so that you don’t have to perform any specific maintenance on it during its lifespan.” Other woods Clifford and his team use include garapa, Massaranduba and Jatoba (Brazilian hardwoods).
“These hardwoods handle our environment well due to the similarity in air moisture content in SA and Brazil,” Clifford explains. “Balau (Southeast Asian) and Iroko (Tropical African) are also good options for decks.”
He adds that the cost of the timber you choose will depend on the species, size and quality of the trees. “It’s definitely more affordable to go with a locally sourced timber option compared to an exotic timber which comes with import costs.”
The sunken fire pit area adds an interesting dimension to the deck and makes for a cosy gathering spot around the brazier.
Square cushions and lanterns from Biggie Best
Wooden slats were used to extend the existing boundary wall to improve privacy.
When Bienne and Hennie Lombaard built their home in Bronkhorstspruit’s Bushveld area in 2016, their main concern for their stoep and adjoining spaces was that they should feel as if they were part of the surrounding forest.
“Our family loves the outdoor lifestyle and the stoep is our favourite space,” says Bienne. “We’ve always wanted a farm-style house and the stoep complements that look and feel. It’s perfect for when family and friends come over – we prefer a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.”
The open-plan kitchen, dining room and bar all lead out onto the stoep. The couple decided on a corrugated iron roof to emphasise the farm aesthetic; it provides adequate shelter from the rain and sun while the concrete floor adds to the overall effect.
The Lombaards didn’t want to enclose the stoep with sliding doors – they love the outdoorsy feel of the space. The 2 x 1.5m braai is perfect for Hennie who loves making potjies and cooking over the coals. “It reminds me of those old fireplaces used for cooking in farmhouses,” says Bienne. “The pizza oven was built with ordinary bricks and, other than making pizzas, it’s also great for cooking a succulent leg of lamb or a T-bone – we highly recommend a pizza oven!”
Pendants from Amatuli(Photographs ER Lombard • Styling Suretha Jansen van Rensburg)
I love that I can keep an eye on my kids while they swim and I relax on the stoep. – Bienne Lombaard
A cosy area with built-in concrete benches is located just around the corner from the braai.
The floor was done by Technical Finishes with Smooth ’n Patch in the colour Platinum Grey.
Last year, an unused staircase leading from street level down to Anel and Adam Duncan’s city bowl home (their property is on a slope) was removed to make space for a much-needed undercover dining area.
“Because we stay in the city, our garden is quite small – and we didn’t need the staircase.
In a tiny garden, anything that isn’t used is a waste,” Anel says.
The couple love entertaining, so it made sense to use the space to create a 17m² stoep leading out from the home’s open-plan kitchen and living areas. “We recently celebrated my mom’s 70th birthday with friends and family – it was the first time we could comfortably entertain a large group of people,” Anel says.
“I’m also a keen gardener and this area has given me the opportunity to keep plants undercover; we love the fact that it offers protection from the elements.”
Anel was an entrant in our Rookie Stylist 2019 competition in partnership with MRP Home.
Plascon Bali Deep
For the stoep floor, the couple chose rectangular pavers to make the area appear larger; the light sand colour contrasts beautifully with the dark walls. Meranti wood from the staircase that was demolished was used to make the outside dining table.
Chairs from Builders; hanging baskets from Stodels; scatters from MRP Home and Pep; large rattan lantern from MRP Home; black lanterns from Eurolux
Anel made a mirror using two old sash windows; it reflects the greenery from the garden and adds more light in this space. An L-shaped cement bench with a wooden top doubles up as storage for pool paraphernalia.
The inside of our home doesn’t really lend itself to large-scale entertaining, so our invites to guests were always “ weather permitting” as we didn’t have any shelter outside. – Anel
A windowsill in the kitchen was lowered and stacking windows were added for easy access to the adjacent outdoor dining area. The wall between the Duncans and their neighbours was clad with Nutec boards and painted.
A flowerbed along a retaining wall was covered with a concrete slab, plastered and painted and is now used as additional seating below Anel’s hanging plant collection (right). “This area was always earmarked as a green corner; I bought the baskets before the renovation and I love filling this space with plants in different textures and sizes,” she says.
For years, the Duncans struggled to maintain the lawn in their backyard. “Every year, we’d have a pest problem of sorts and then we got beagles that dug up what was left of the unsightly patches!” Anel says. When they added the stoep, they decided to replace the dead lawn and sand with artificial grass from Easigrass.
Ielanda Koen, national marketing manager at Easigrass South Africa, says artificial lawn remains a popular choice for backyards.
“Saving water is still a huge consideration; it’s a scarce resource and we all need to rethink how we use it,” she explains. Artificial grass is also durable and low-maintenance – it doesn’t require mowing, fertilisers or pesticides.
Your choice of grass will depend on the area you plan to use it in, your budget and your personal preferences. “In a residential space that gets lots of foot traffic, lush longer grass such as Easi-Windsor with a pile height of 35mm or Easi-Kensington (30mm) is a good choice,” says Ielanda. “You could also opt for a short, freshly cut look such as Easi-Knightsbridge (20mm).”
Easigrass prices vary from R125–R530/m². The cost is influenced by your choice of grass variety, possible finishes such as cobble edging and if the installation is done on soil or paving.
Interior designer Lara Myerson of Camps Bay had a driveway alongside her home converted into this gorgeous 7 x 7m stoep, which leads out from the dining room.
“It creates a good pause area between the indoor living spaces and pool,” she says.
“I wanted it to be a really beautiful but practical outdoor area where kids can sit in wet swimming costumes and adults can be comfortable too, hence the large sofas upholstered in outdoor fabric (Stinson Storm from Hertex). It gets lovely sun throughout the day but the roof keeps the harsh midday sun at bay. It’s a favourite spot in our home!”
Patterned tiles from Cash Tiles were used to create the striking statement walls, while the floors are covered with grey large-format granite tiles from WOMAG. The ottoman was sourced from India by Cécile & Boyd. “It has travelled the world with me and it’s been placed in various rooms, indoors and out,” says Lara.
L-shaped concrete seating doubles up as storage space for wood.
Hertex creative director Katrin Herrmann says:
All fabric has a light-fastness rating (resistance to fading due to sun or light exposure); the SABS rating for outdoor fabrics is 7–8, as opposed to regular domestic fabrics which have a 4–5 rating. Outdoor fabrics are usually treated for stain-resistance and mildew-resistance. We recommend that customers bring in fabric-covered items when not in use to help prolong the lifespan of the fabric. If left outdoors and exposed to rain, water might penetrate the fabric and inners can rot or mould.
Mildew can also grow on the dust that sits on the fabric (even if the fabric has an anti-mildew finish) so regular washing and vacuuming is recommended.
A slatted, water-resistant balau structure lets in dappled light.
CONTACTS AND STOCKISTS Amatuli 011 440 5065, amatuli.co.za Apex Aluminium 041 484 1033, apexaluminium.co.za Biggie Best 041 402 6800, biggiebest.co.za Bowhome bowhome.co.za Builders 0860 284 533, builders.co.za Cash Tiles 021 447 6111, cashtiles.co.za Cécile & Boyd 021 425 5110, cecileandboyds.com Eurolux 011 608 2970, eurolux.co.za Hertex 021 761 7734, hertex.co.za Lara Myerson Designs 082 265 8941, facebook.com/laramyersondesigns Meik Architects 082 809 1970, meik.co.za MRP Home 0800 212 535, mrphome.com Pep 0860 737 000, pepstores.com Second Time Around 021 423 1674, secondtimearound.co Stodels 021 919 1106, stodels.com Technical Finishes 011 822 7242, technicalfinishes.com VC Fit-Out 082 621 2585, vcfitout.co.za ■