Charlotte Daneel - the woman behind Sneeuberg Nature Reserve
Women like these, do not come around very often. Those with a love for the African soil, a keen eye for interior and most of all, the resilience to turn a farm in Africa into a luxury retreat.
Charlotte Daneel and partner Derk Blaisse are the owners of the applauded Sneeuberg Nature Reserve, about an hour's drive from Graaff-Reinet in the Great Karoo. The farm lies somewhere between Middelburg and Nieu-Bethesda and has been transformed into an iconic retreat over the last decade or two.
This is in large part due to the woman behind the wheels. For her work here at Sneeuberg and at her former company, La Grange Interiors, Charlotte was featured as one of South Africa's "Style Icons" in a classic publication by Paul Duncan.
Says Paul: "Anybody looking for appropriateness of context in a South African interior, should learn from Kliphuis. Inside, it is big on texture and scale, evoking the boldness of its surroundings. There are large shapes and simple finishes. In every room the furnishings have a basic, elemental quality that indicate the owner's affinity with the gravelly surroundings of the building's location."
Renovating and rebuilding the 5 farmhouses and cottages on the Sneeuberg Nature Reserve has been a monumental task and maintaining these on a high standard has become Charlotte's unbridled focus. The mind numbing 7 hour trip from Franschhoek (where she lives) is nothing to her, even though she makes it more than once a month.
Large scale challenges come standard when transforming a wilderness space like this one in the Great Karoo into a perfect hideaway. The process looked something like this: "Deep, over-scaled sofas designed by Charlotte arrived on a tractor; SUV tyres have burst on the rugged roads in an effort to stock the house with excellent linen, glassware, books, rugs and wood burning stoves."
The whole does have a bit of an "Out of Africa" feel to it, where leading lady Karen Blixen famously transported her crystal glasses and china via boat, train and ox wagon to her farm in Kenya. Why all the effort? - one might wonder. And then comes the answer from Charlotte and Derk: "In the end, luxury is what you want it to be. For us, luxury means having this extraordinary homestead in an unspoilt location, sustained by utter silence."
You can find Charlotte's work in the following publications: "Perfect Hideaways", "Perfect Hideaways Book 2" and "Down South Two" - all by Paul Duncan. Her work on Sneeuberg Nature Reserve has also been featured in the "VISI Magazine" and the "Greenwood Guide to South Africa".