The door swings open and the excited, pixie-like face of Emmie van Schoor pops around the side. The house is alive, almost: three blonde girls whizzing around – four, if you count their lovely mama – and a chilled father and husband surveying the happy chaos. Come with us to Ebony Lane and meet the van Schoors!

Within the first few minutes of our arrival, seven-year-old Emmie has introduced us to her sisters Bea (5) and Maya (2), who is quietly taking in her afternoon cartoons. Emmie leads the charge outside, to the deck, where she introduces her fish, Chocolate. “His surname is Brownie,” she mentions, solemnly. “And this,” she points at Chocolate’s companion. “Is Bea’s fishie. His name is Blobbyhead.”

An older version of her daughters, Erna’s golden hair falls softly over her shoulders as she welcomes us into their cosy home. She and her husband, Adriaan, are playful with each other as they sit down to chat. They met nine years ago, at a bar, Erna smiles over at Adriaan. “I saw him standing across the bar, and I called him to me,” she uses her finger to beckon. “He listened to me, from then,” she laughs. “I bought him a drink and we started chatting.”

It was, indeed, love at first sight, Adriaan readily confirms. “The timing was right for us, I think. We were both finished with our studies, then.”

In 2016, the Pretoria natives relocated to KwaZulu-Natal when Adriaan pursued an opportunity with IFA Hotels and Resorts to work on a neighbouring development. Adriaan, with his legal and financial background, and Erna in marketing, worked together to assist the developer with sales, marketing and strategy.

Their first home in Simbithi, in Barringtonia Lane, was Adriaan’s choice. “That was in the days of WhatsApp video, no video calling,” he says. “I sent a video to Erna, and she saw the house for the first time on the day we moved in.”

The van Schoors, then sans Bea and Maya, lived happily in the home for a year while Adriaan scouted the Estate for their next spot. With his experience in the property sector, he set his eyes on their current home. “I liked that it was open, and elevated, with a lovely view of the dam. The surrounding trees are also beautiful. When you open the windows on a warm day, there’s a summer breeze that blows through the house,” he shares.

“The windows upstairs allow the sunlight into all the bedrooms, and when it shines through the tree canopies outside, it’s a gorgeous sight,” Erna adds.

The van Schoors have an illustrious opinion of Simbithi, with Adriaan musing that it is Simbithi’s character that won them over. “Every development goes through seasons, through which its community develops a story. When we moved here, Simbithi was reasonably well into development, so we get to enjoy an established estate. Erna, the girls and I are lucky to have found our place in this story.”

“Also, there are so many options for our girls,” Erna shares. “If we go to the beach, then we come back and have a swim at the Guineafowl or Heron. We can go to the gym, and pop downstairs to the Fig Tree for a breakfast or coffee.” She is also fond of the efforts by Simbithi to enthral its younger residents. “Holiday clubs, Easter fun, trick or treat, and the markets, it’s all here on the Estate, which is great.”

Adriaan, an avid cyclist who is fresh off the Cape Epic, gave our mountain biking trails a thumbs up. “I love a good run or ride, and I take the girls fishing from time to time, too.”

When they have free time, the van Schoors frequent the Heron Pizzeria for their favourites: Franklin for Erna and Adriaan and – of course – Margherita for Emmie!