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South Africa

Your world in one place

Text by Diana Wemyss. Photographs by Anthony Johnson

Source: This article was taken from the March 2011 issue of Garden and Home

Inspired by the Hamptons in the USA, this Cape home captures a sophisticated seaside mood

The main living room is now a light, bright space with a high-vaulted ceiling. INSET: The exterior of this revamped holiday home in Stilbaai

We loved our holiday home in Stilbaai but knew the time had come to renovate when every one of the five toilets in the house broke down,” says Lola Clark. “We’d bought the house in 1993. It’s in a prime position on the river close to the beach and river mouth,” she adds. “Places along here seldom come on to the market as they usually get passed on from one generation to the next, so we were very lucky to buy it. Plus, I grew up in Stilbaai and have spent every Christmas barring two of my life there so it has a very special meaning to me.

“We lived in the house with its strange, sunken living room and awkward columns through many happy family holidays,” Lola continues. “When we decided to renovate and refurbish it I didn’t want to destroy all the good memories by making it feel like a completely brand new house with none of the familiar furniture. As a result we reused a lot of the old furnishings and merely repainted them, and reframed the paintings and photographs. We did buy new appliances for the kitchen and were able to re-use the old ones in my mother’s home which is just down the road.”

The two-storey house was designed around an octagonal-shaped living room on the upper level with eight internal roof support columns, which interfered greatly with the flow of the space. Some fine engineering was required to remove these columns and free up the space. Lola’s husband, Eugene, a developer who undertook the revamp, instructed architect Luiz da Cruz to redesign the structure of this central core. Steel support beams were placed around the perimeter. “Once the beams for the new roof were in place, the temporary supports could be removed slowly; the structure didn’t move an inch and the roof has survived some violent storms,” says Lola.

Shells hanging from a light fitting and a cushion in Andrew Martin Mystique, colour Indigo, from Halogen International, add interest to this corner of the downstairs television room. The blue theme is carried throughout the living areas with Ralph Lauren fabrics, from St Leger & Viney, and Andrew Martin fabrics, from Halogen International, used on the cushions.

For the decor, Lola took her inspiration from the colours of the ocean and sand and decided to use bamboo blinds and soft, unstructured curtains for the windows. “Being so close to the sea and river, I thought we needed to bring those changing colours and the mood of the water indoors,” she says.

Lola consulted her friend designer Ros Bechet of Janus Interiors about the decorating. “Ros went down to see the house once and worked very much by remote control. We brought most of the furniture back here after storing it during the renovation and Ros had it painted by paint-effect specialist Ann Barris. One of the pieces revamped was the huge blackwood table — it definitely looks more modern with a coat of paint.”

Ros looked at the colourful shiplap houses on the beach at Stilbaai and knew instantly that this was the key to the mood that needed to be created: a feel of old seaside holiday homes but with real style and a nautical touch, so redolent of the ambience of the family homes along America’s East Coast.

The lofty central living room flows from the seating area in front of the fireplace to a small library area next to the stairs. “This was an awkward corner, but it worked well as a sort of library-cum-lounge,” says Ros.

The kitchen is built across the corner of the hexagonal main living room. I A pale blue, solid wood cupboard gives the kitchen a relaxed seaside feel. A casual lunch indoors complemented with a striped ticking tablecloth, The boys’ bedroom downstairs is decorated with cushions and throws from Mr Price Home. The small veranda at the back of the house is a sheltered place to sit when the wind blows in from the sea. – Lunch on the terrace overlooking the river

The living room also flows across into the kitchen and then the dining area which then flows out to a secluded veranda at the back – an essential bolt hole from the frisky summer winds. For quieter days, the house opens up in front to a veranda from which there are splendid views of the river and sea. Lola has planted the garden heavily with palms and indigenous trees that provide privacy and shelter from the winds.

The bedrooms, painted in light silver and decorated in soft tones, are beautiful inviting spaces; the beds are piled with lovely linen and deep feather duvets. The finishes in the bathrooms are quite exceptional and portray the work of master artisans.

Ros chose some beautiful imported fabrics from Mavromac, Home Fabrics, The Fabric Library and St Leger & Viney and Lola cleverly teamed these with cushions and throws from Mr Price Home. These complement the updated furniture and architecture to create a gorgeous holiday pad that is now relaxed, comfortable and very welcoming.

The front veranda has unbeatable views over the river mouth and beach. Ros Bechet designed the cupboard with fabric doors in this guest room.
The main bedroom has a deep-buttoned headboard covered in Arton, colour Linen, from Home Fabrics. The cushions are covered in Tuilleries from The Fabric Library. The lampshade is from Decadence.
  • Anri Barris 082 925 7797
  • Decadence 021 465 9864
  • Halogen International 011 448 2060
  • Home Fabrics 011 266 3700
  • Janus Interiors 082 659 2063
  • Luiz da Cruz Project Architecture 083 430 7257
  • Mavromac 011 444 1584
  • Mr Price Home 0800 212 535
  • St Leger & Viney 011 444 6722
  • The Fabric Library 011 265 9000

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