Style leaders find a home in two Karoo towns

The fast-moving Karoo renaissance that started more than a decade ago has picked up impetus as the bigger towns get more expensive, and the obscure villages look like a good alternative option. ‘The lesser-known dorpies are now showing a distinct investment potential,’ says Karoo property agent Elaine Hurford, of Prince Albert-based Country Estates.

As more and more buyers invest in country life, a trend  has also emerged towards bold new style and design. In established new-wave towns such as Prince Albert where there is already a shortage of properties to renovate, some buyers are settling for land and building from scratch, but more obscure settlements such as Merweville in the heart of the vast Koup region, are still ripe with potential for renovation.

Intrepid new Karoo settlers have created several standout properties in these Karoo towns – a private home and exclusive guest cottage in Prince Albert and, in Merweville, three superbly restored houses, which include a restaurant and a guesthouse.  For both owners, their major investment in the Karoo was a leap of faith at the time.

The Prince Albert house is the result of a creative collaboration between an international artist and an award-winning architect and has become a local landmark in design and style. The house has also been featured in numerous architectural and design publications. 

The brilliant white and blue “compound” includes a first-floor studio and star-watching deck in the 270m2 main house, as well as a five-star guest cottage with excellent income, all overlooking a lap pool and set within indigenous gardens.

The three Merweville properties set a new standard for the town, which is now edging onto the tourism map as travellers begin to explore the furthest reaches of the Great Karoo. Graphic white shapes amid the other modest homes on the quiet streets, are punctuated by vibrant and unexpected paint colours on each front door  that give a hint of the explosion of creativity within. 

Both Merweville and Prince Albert are four hours’ comfortable drive from Cape Town, using the N1 highway.

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