Recently Vicki Bell made the move from Onsite Gallery in Cape Town to the countryside and has set up shop in a gorgeous old barn in Simondium. You’ll find Barn & Werf along the R45 between Paarl and Franschhoek at Die Handelshuis – a new lifestyle centre which is home to a lovely group of creative enterprises.
Vicki instantly saw the potential in the barn and the area, so much so that she is renovating the back of the barn and creating a stunning home for herself (I got a sneak peak!) Vicki has a keen eye and has curated a beautiful shop with an eclectic, old world feel that is absolutely filled to the brim – when you visit you’ll want to take your time so that you don’t miss anything. You can expect to see a mix of high-end imported furniture – antique and retro, as well as magnificent lighting and locally produced items. They currently have a wide selection of Isobel Sippel’s tempting linen scatters and tableware as well as authentic Christmas decorations made from indigenous foliage.
After a good wander around the barn, step out in the beautiful werf and enjoy a coffee and snack from Ou Meul Bakkery and visit their other neighbours. Scroll down to read my Q&A with Vicki and to find out her local insider’s tips…
What influenced your design aesthetic?
Growing up, I developed a feeling for the complexity of beautiful English Antiques as my parents were collectors but I also appreciated the simplicity of the modern sixties homes of my friends’ parents. I am always inspired by authentic old European interiors and of course simple Cape Furniture too! I love real! 10 years of working with David at Onsite Gallery has stretched the boundaries of what I find aesthetically pleasing and my taste is intuitive and very eclectic.
How do you go about sourcing your products?
I was fortunate to be able to start my shop with a choice selection of stock from Onsite Gallery which was mostly sourced in Europe and Argentina. I try and stock only things that I love and I am constantly on the lookout for exciting product where ever I can find it – from a local person’s barn (filled with fabulous French imported furniture) to small country shops in KwaZulu-Natal. I intend to start importing my own containers next year if the exchange rate allows.
I have also started to introduce exceptional locally manufactured products that fit in with the general aesthetic of my shop.
What is your favourite piece in the store at the moment?
I have the most beautiful belle époque mirrored armoire from Buenos Aires. It is the perfect blend of magnificent opulence with a toned down patina of age.
Who is your dream client?
A creative who appreciates my eclectic collection – preferably with a big budget!
How do you visualise their home?
Strong sense of their own style, warm, authentic
What are your plans for Barn & Werf?
We have so many exciting plans for Barn & Werf and for the complex. Things do tend to develop organically though as interesting options emerge. We will be building more retail spaces in the future but sticking to the toned down Boland character of the existing buildings.
How do you find staying in Simondium?
I can’t believe how lucky I am to live in the most beautiful spot in the World.
Outside of the store, what are your favourite hobbies?
At this stage there is no time for anything other than the shop as I am open 7 days a week, however I do love reading, travel is a passion and I really enjoy hiking in beautiful countryside
Favourite place to eat in the area?
We have too many choices in Simondium. I love going to Boschendal, their deli is one of my favourite lunch spots, Lust at Vrede and Lust has delicious food and of course Babylonstoren is fabulous. I recently visited them for a pizza evening and it was sublime!
Any local insider’s tip you can share?
You can’t leave here without a chicken pie from Ou Meul and you have to stop off at Dalewood for some of their amazing cheese.
All photography: Lana Kenney ©