For the last few years the trend in interior décor has been almost exclusively for many different shades of grey – whether for interior paints, upholstery and curtaining fabrics, carpets or accessories. While grey is eminently versatile and adaptable it can become just a little tedious and boring. The owners of this home are certainly not afraid of celebrating colour and they’ve done so in a really stylish way.
The old farmhouse was one of the original homes in the area, built in 1914, so it’s seen a lot of history. The current owners bought the house back in 1994 and it’s been the family home since then – although the children have grown up and moved away, hopefully to return sometime soon. It was originally a four bedroom house with two bathrooms but has been renovated and redesigned to become a three bedroom house with three en suite bathrooms. There are also additional bedrooms and bathrooms in the newer outbuildings – two bedrooms in the thatched cottage, as well as a self-contained studio apartment, bringing the accommodation up to six bedrooms and six bathrooms.
The main approach to the house gives a hint of what lies inside. Dramatic black and white chequerboard tiles clad the front porch and wrap around the side of the house and on to the west facing verandah. The tiled outdoor spaces are broken up with water features, bass reliefs, and – of course – the obligatory potted plants in terracotta containers, vines, and vibrant red geraniums and pelargoniums. The tiles recall the grand Italian palazzos of Venice and Milan but there’s a little added detail. African sculptures live happily on either side of the door under classical coach lamps. The front door has a stained glass, Art Deco inset created by local artist Annalie Maartens. The entrance leads into a rather grand foyer with a formal lounge to the left and a dining room to the right. Originally the entrance would have been to a rather dark passageway with rooms leading off to either side through smaller doors but now a series of large arches create integrated and coordinated spaces.
To the left is the formal lounge painted in a glorious, rich, golden yellow colour, highlighted by dusty blue drapes and sofas upholstered in a similar colour. The blue sofas are accompanied by salmon pink sofas with a retro floral chintz. But the space is really held together by an antique Chinese credenza topped with an Ethiopian carved wooden cross and African themed paintings. Behind the formal lounge is a smaller more cosy sitting room which repeats the golden yellow colour below the dado rail. The room has large bookcases and glorious deep red curtains.
The colour of the curtains is picked up in a pair of mid-century upholstered armchairs. To the right of the entrance foyer is the dining room painted in Venice Green – a vibrant, almost lime colour, surprisingly popular in 19th Century homes. An oak table with chairs covered in a bright pinkish-red raspberry colour sit on a Persian carpet while a carefully curated selection of paintings and objet dress the room. Floral printed curtains complete the look. Beyond the dining room is the kitchen which is the only part of the house that has exposed roof trusses. Wood look ceramic floor tiles have been chosen to echo the wooden floors in the lounge and dining room. The kitchen also incorporates a small wood burning stove for heating, a work station, and an informal dining area with blue chairs. Red bar stools and red lampshades add pops of colour. The kitchen opens up to a small outdoor ‘breakfast’ space overlooking the vegetable and herb garden.
As its east facing it’s flooded with sun in the mornings. The lounges overlook the generous verandah which leads onto the pool and garden. The verandah has a group of old leather sofas for relaxing and a teak dining table accompanied by modern, transparent acrylic chairs. The mix of old and new is carefully thought out and works together well with the different elements and styles enhancing each other. An abstract painting by Mozambican artist Christo adds colour and freshness, while voluminous white drapes – with a small blue stripe – shelter the verandah from the westerly sun and add a Mediterranean feel.
A major part of the renovations to the main house included removing the old leaking roof, which was a patchwork of different materials, and replacing it with a new Chromadek roof that integrated the roof structure. In order to have somewhere to live while the roof was removed the owners built a small thatched cottage in the garden. The cottage has two bedrooms and two bathrooms on either side of a central kitchen, lounge and dining room. The architectural design and the fnishes of the cottage are fairly minimalist with raw cement floors and cast concrete counter tops, however the exposed thatched roof, chandeliers, timber furniture and the romantic mosquito nets over the beds add warmth and texture, and colour has again been employed to add personality to what could have been a fairly cold design. The owners have also created a self-contained guest cottage from what was originally a garage space. The guest cottage has an integrated bedroom and lounge area with a small kitchenette and a separate bathroom, so guests can be completely self contained.
The whole property also has serious green credentials with solar power and inverters allowing them to operate completely off grid if needed. They have a borehole to augment Council’s erratic water supply and a sophisticated water harvesting system. There’s a 400k litre reservoir concealed in the plot to harvest rainwater and recycle grey water for the garden and the vegetables.
Altogether the home is a testament to blending colours, styles and cultures into a cohesive and coherent design including African, European and Asian influences. And most importantly and impressively it showcases how colour can be used to create unique and individual designs.
text by Michael Nott
photos by Structure and Design