By Guinevere Davies, Project Consultant and Property Coordinator Monique Rankine, Photographer Nic Baleta

Nestled below the Magaliesberg Mountains, in an exclusive, low-density housing estate north of Johannesburg, this modern chateau is a dream come true for the family who call it home.

“We started thinking about the house when we bought the stand in 2010,” the owner explains. “We knew what we wanted in terms of design and aesthetic, but didn’t have the skill to draw professional plans, particularly with respect to levels, plumbing and electrics. Even though this type of approach is more difficult for an architect, we wanted to be intimately involved throughout the process.

“Since we both have French ancestry and an affinity for that style of architecture, the look was always going to be a classic one.”

The owners’ decision to incorporate bold stone cladding and the distinctive double-volume, steep-slope mansard roof was inspired by a tour of the historic Chateaux of the Loire Valley in France, just before breaking ground on their build in 2013.

Most of the furniture in the home is custom-made, including the 14-seater and armoire in the main bedroom. “It takes time to build a house, but even longer to make it a home. We gradually filled rooms with various pieces picked up on weekend trips. And hanging family photos and art is an extension of the initial contracting build work, so our home is never finished; it is always getting better.”

The secret door in the formal living room is another unique feature. “It’s hidden from view by a combination of clever design, wall panelling, wallpaper, art and furniture. And it leads to the ‘man cave’ beyond – our home cinema.”

But, when it comes to entertaining, the pool house is party-central, thanks to a fully stocked bar, lounge area and teppanyaki station.

As with almost every family home, it’s the kitchen that is the heart of it. “In a house this size, it’s easy for everyone to disappear into their own corners, but the kitchen and playroom are where we all spend most of our time.

“There’s nothing better than a lazy Sunday morning seated at the breakfast nook, the doors open to the herb garden, listening to the sound of nature, having breakfast as a family. It’s an escape from the Joburg rat race at its best!”