Décor & Gardening

Industrial Charm

Industrial Charm

Montagu and Celeste Schoeman’s share their Uitsig home in Mbombela with us.

It was never going to be a paint-by-numbers job. For many years, hoarder Montagu (his wife’s description) had been painstakingly gathering and storing bits and pieces for when the house got underway. This includes building materials like steel beams, tiles and doors, and unusual items of furniture and fittings.

Although one can tell he loves a bargain, or finding a discarded treasure, it’s also the excitement of seeing potential where anyone else would only see hassle. And the clever incorporation of these finds, painstakingly collected and eccentrically repurposed, was very much part of the plan.
A builder by trade, in own home, Montagu was free to experiment with unusual materials and techniques, stretching his problem-solving skills to their limits. “I love utilitarian buildings,” he says. “When old power stations or industrial spaces are converted into homes.” All the concrete casting for the house was done on-site, often experimental, with the end result unclear. “My team learnt so many tricks,” Montagu smiles. “Interesting things happened.”

It’s a mesmerising testament to its owners’ creativity and resourcefulness

The use of concrete extends beyond the building itself, to include details like the fireplace and large cornice running the width of the open-plan living area. Smooth in some areas and rough hewn in others, irregularities and imperfections add to the overall personality of the house, as does the truly eclectic combination of furniture.


The result is a home of startling contrasts and never-ending surprises, where absolutely nothing is standard issue. Two oversized couches flanking the fireplace were about the only items they bought as new, the couple laugh – everything else has a story.

“We bought the stand long before we started building so we had plenty of time to think about the design,” he says. They would often walk the stand, figuring out its orientation and how to best position the house among mature trees. It was never going to be huge, but the grand proportions of its main living area places it in a category well above its weight.

The kitchen was designed around two towering antique Belgian cupboards, as the couple share a dislike for built-ins. The island worktop was cut from leiklip, usually reserved for snooker tables. Here, heirlooms and pawn shop finds happily share space, styles and eras overlapping at will: ornate sits next to retro; steel next to wicker. It’s a mesmerising testament to its owners’ creativity and resourcefulness.
The garden was deliberately left small to encourage the estate’s wild animals to wander close to the house. Overlooking a watering hole, the stoep is the perfect vantage point to catch a glimpse of zebra, giraffe and waterbuck at sunset. “We love to entertain and show off our home,” says Montagu. “It’s a privilege to stay here.”

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