My ultimate dream was to have a New York loft in a wild forest setting, though I never thought it would be possible. I have now made my home in an incredible loft-like space I discovered on the mountain slopes in Hout Bay, Cape Town. When out house hunting, I was looking for a refuge where I could paint—I studied fine art and had recently rekindled my romance with oil paint. I found sanctuary in this unique house with its immense proportions, hand-built by the previous owner a decade ago.
When I first walked up the driveway, I knew this was where I wanted to live. Our gate now sports a sign warning visitors ‘4×4’s only’, and reaching the house requires a hike up 40 coarsely cut stone steps. The home has dominating reclaimed factory windows, and with its simple silhouette, it doesn’t reveal much of what to expect when inside—a sheer volume of cavernous space laid into the side of a mountain. The building is enriched with stone features, exposed brick walls, and rough wooden floors and had many ‘Freddy Flintstone’ features when I first purchased it. My initial focus had been on bringing the various elements of the two-level building together with a consistent stone grey palette–and of course taming the vast garden, which has taken up most of my time and energy.
This inspiring loft-like space has allowed me to unlock my creative juices. I like to have a space with a lot of natural light and for my space to be organised and as clutter free as possible. I currently have freckled the large wall in the lounge area with portraits I have painted. And, while I do admit to having an affinity for quite masculine design, my treasure trove of furniture suggests otherwise. A self-confessed magpie, my portrait wall is flanked by an ornate hand-carved antique door from India and surrounded by a compendium of Eames and Le Corbusier originals (design investments I made in my early twenties), Chinese cabinets, and traditional country French furniture—I simply can’t stick to just one style. I enjoy the juxtaposition of different influences and textures, and I think the items I have collected over the years work here because it is such an eclectic space itself. Every once in a while, I continue to take a break to travel in order to find my passion again, as passion is very important in my work and life.
Amidst the home’s stark grey shades, taupes and neutrals that I love is a persistent thread of bronze, copper and brass completing my decor. I love the warmth and richness of these shades, but I do change my house around every couple of months. So, you could come back and discover this wall is covered with acid yellow paintings on a future visit. It’s the beauty of having a house like this, which is such a wonderful canvas.
My home is very close to a large national park where there are many hiking trails. I love to immerse myself in these surroundings where I can gather inspiration. I enjoy going on hikes and swimming in the ocean, as both allow me to step out of the hectic pace of life and take time to feel and breathe. Being aware and present in the current moment, taking the time to appreciate the little things in life and enjoying the current moment allows me to be mindful. I like to incorporate that feeling of freedom into what I create.
I walk each morning and start my day in nature, finding it gives me the balance to start my day in a positive headspace.
While I wish I could spend my days painting with a the Klimt-like view of vast trees overlooking the valley at the back of Table Mountain, my fashion business and growing interior design client base does take me into the city every day. But, weekends are either spent painting or entertaining friends. We have bar stools that hug the distressed wood kitchen island, and the dining room table has tip-to-toe additions to make space for more guests. The half-moon tables, bought from a bric-a-brac shop in downtown Cape Town, make the table longer, but also add interest.
I am always tinkering and have plans to enclose the mezzanine floor, which is currently home to my ensuite bedroom, with glass. I am also currently excavating a space to build a wine cellar and have dreams of building a studio behind the existing structure. This will provide further solitude for me, along with a canopy view of my mad garden of trees. The view from my bedroom is perfectly positioned to capture this leafy vantage point, and no two days are ever the same. When I wake up in the morning, the light starts pink and then turns orange and then fades into blue. In spite of its stony form, it seems this home is always destined to be infused with colour–either by myself or through nature.