FREE TO DREAM

THIS TRAN­QUIL HOME HAS A RE­LAXED FAM­ILY FEEL, YET ALSO SERVES AS AN EX­HI­BI­TION SPACE FOR STRIK­ING ART­WORKS

Home Beautiful - - CONTENTS - STORY SALLY RUTHER­FORD STYLING SVEN ALBERDING PHOTOGRAPHY WAR­REN HEATH

Prop­erty hunt­ing with a list of must-haves is only sen­si­ble. How­ever, there are times when the home-buy­ing rule book gets thrown out the win­dow, as it did five years ago when Kate and Michael were scout­ing for a new home in Cape Town. They were re­luc­tantly dragged to view a place that was clearly not right for them. De­spite the draw­card of the prop­erty hous­ing one of the oldest build­ings in the area – an early 19th-cen­tury labourer’s cot­tage – the main home was way too small for their fam­ily, which in­cludes a daugh­ter study­ing at univer­sity and three young boys. “There was noth­ing that at­tracted us to the main house it­self,” re­calls Kate. But once they saw the prop­erty, they were smit­ten. The cot­tage was adorable, and the block in­cludes a stream that Kate felt gave a sense of ‘wild’ in a sub­ur­ban space, with these fea­tures enough to en­tice them to over­look the draw­backs of the main struc­ture. “De­spite be­ing so close to the city, it has a clois­tered peace,” she says. To ad­dress the noted flaws of their new pur­chase, the cou­ple en­gaged ar­chi­tect Karen New­man, who trans­formed the dated main build­ing into a fam­ily home with heart. “I love ar­chi­tec­ture with his­tory, but there’s a part of me that is also in­ter­ested in cre­at­ing new build­ings,” says Karen. “This was the per­fect project. It com­bined car­ing for a very old and beau­ti­ful cot­tage with rein­vent­ing a block-like, dou­ble-storey house built in the 1970s or ’80s. The house was po­si­tioned in the right place with a won­der­ful as­pect, but it was very tired and dark with no north-fac­ing rooms, and the foot­print was too small for the fam­ily.” While the cot­tage was pre­served as a sep­a­rate guest­house, the main build­ing was trans­formed with the ad­di­tion of an ex­tra storey. “The first time I went to the site, we said we’d lift the roof, go up to three storeys and treat the fam­ily home like an apart­ment or con­tem­po­rary town­house,” says Karen. The bot­tom floor was de­voted to com­mu­nal liv­ing, the mid­dle to the chil­dren, and the top level to the adults. The main hur­dle was that the en­gi­neers couldn’t track down the home’s orig­i­nal struc­tural draw­ings, so the top floor had to be very lightweight. Karen de­signed a steel-framed struc­ture with loads of win­dows that synced bril­liantly with Kate and Michael’s re­quest for a light and airy ‘top box’ space. From a solid foun­da­tion, the home grad­u­ally rises from its brick-and-mor­tar base with low ceil­ings to a lofty, mod­ernist glass-and-steel space with tree­house as­pi­ra­tions. In­side, the home has been opened up to let in nat­u­ral light. The stream­lined, con­tem­po­rary spa­ces pro­vide a down-to-earth, easy-care home for the cou­ple’s bois­ter­ous boys, while also serv­ing as an awein­spir­ing gallery for their rich, chal­leng­ing and lively art, beau­ti­fully hand­crafted arte­facts and African fur­ni­ture. It’s a home for ev­ery­one to en­joy – chil­dren and adults alike – where art and cul­ture are cel­e­brated, and the con­ver­sa­tion and fam­ily fun flow freely.

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