There is nothing boring or typical about the magnificent Millican family farmhouse. Landscape architect and owner Bruce talks us through the incredible redesign of this fourth-generation home.
A wire sculpture of a swimmer perched on a diving board, ready to plunge into the koi pond beneath it greets you at the impressive entrance of Bruce and his wife Vicki’s Doringkop home. From the moment you arrive, you know this is not a ‘typical’ farmhouse.
An unconventional creative and self-proclaimed ‘non-conformist’, Bruce has created a breathtaking, unique home that not only suits the needs of his family, but has allowed him to showcase his vast landscape, design and project execution skills.
The house, which is called ‘Fallow Fields’, is situated on a working sugar cane, macadamia nut and tea tree farm, and boasts an exquisite 180-degree ocean view. The farm belonged to Bruce’s great grandparents, then his grandfather, his father and now him.
“My parents moved to Ballito about 20 years ago, and we had tenants living in the farmhouse. My wife and I (and our now teenage triplets) were living nearby, but when I turned 50 a few years ago, I decided it was time to come back to the farm,” says Bruce.
The house was extremely rundown though and needed a makeover. Some of the rooms – like the kitchen and bathrooms – had to be completely gutted. “We wanted to give it a fresh new look, and our goal was to create an easy-living, open-plan home that would allow us to be flexible and use the different spaces, while still being together as a family.”
“My wife wanted it to have a ‘sub-tropical’ vibe and I did my best to achieve that – especially in the garden, which has elements of a jungle feel to it.”
Flooded with ideas, Bruce’s creative juices started flowing and, a year-and-a-half (and a great deal of time spent shopping on Facebook marketplace) later, the result is a gloriously modern, three-bedroom family home set in exquisite, lush surroundings.
“I love design and I love a challenge,” says Bruce, who has spent much of his life working in landscaping, and was also the chairman of St. Lukes Home of Healing for more than 25 years. He also has ‘green fingers’ and Bruce’s passion for growing and collecting beautiful plants and flowers is evident both inside and outside the home.
There are countless unique elements and points of interest and everything – from the wide staircase leading you into the home, “because you want your guests to enter side-by-side and not lined up like ants”, to the one-of-a-kind, specially-made double stable front doors – was carefully thought out and executed by Bruce himself.
The fact that the exterior is painted entirely black adds to the dramatic appeal, as does the incredible facade (made from concrete blocks from the old tennis court), which features its very own porthole.
Bruce used re-purposed, plantation-style Natal red brick, which he harvested (with permission) from an old nearby sugar mill, extensively for both the interior and exterior and married it with a plaster band theme, which runs throughout the home.
Always looking for ways to make things interesting and unique, Bruce wanted a double volume entrance hall, which features striking black and white tiles and is finished off with an oversized window that looks out onto a magnificent span of manicured lawn, swimming pool, sugar cane and the ocean in the distance.
The interior is as fascinating as the exterior and almost every item – whether practical or decorative – has a unique tale around how it came to be in the house. “I can’t believe how many wonderful items you can find second hand,” laughs Bruce. “This whole experience has led to me meeting some interesting and amazing people.”
Bruce is particularly proud of the kitchen, which features a magnificent custom-made terrazzo slab made with crushed green Italian marble. The green colour theme has been pulled through to the bold, lime-hued scullery, adding a splash of fun and quirk to the living area.
With teenage triplets, it was imperative to Bruce and Vicki that each bedroom had its own en-suite bathroom and that the children we allowed to design their own spaces. The couple also ensured there were a number of different communal areas and each one (much like the rest of this wonderful, contemporary abode) has its own unique flair and ambiance.
Details: Bruce Millican – 083 937 2887
Text: Leah Shone Photographs: Light & Lark Photography