Real Living (Philippines) - - Real Living - RL

This all-white, coun­trystyle fam­ily home by a river ex­udes hap­pi­ness and tran­quil­ity.

It’s not hard to see why Ni­cola Valen­tine, her hus­band Ge­orge, and kids Gina and Christo­pher es­cape to their hol­i­day home in Plet­ten­berg Bay, South Africa at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. “I can’t ex­plain how happy it makes me to walk in the front door. This home feeds my soul and is one hun­dred per­cent my happy place. I never get used to it,” Ni­cola en­thuses.

The home is un­usual for this pop­u­lar beach des­ti­na­tion, where im­pos­ing, ul­tra-mod­ern houses typ­i­cally vie for sea views. The Valen­tine home, in con­trast, is a sin­gle-level, con­tem­po­rary coun­try-style house that makes the most of its peace­ful river frontage. Ni­cola loves its lo­ca­tion. “The el­e­ments are not as harsh as on the seafront and, sur­rounded by the dense green­ery, river and birds, it is supremely tran­quil.”

A key el­e­ment of Ni­cola’s brief to her ar­chi­tects was that the home had to be re­ally sim­ple with­out a sin­gle iota of fussi­ness. The re­sult is a con­tem­po­rary farm­house-style home with a won­der­ful sense of space and flow. “Sarah Water­meyer took over from ar­chi­tect Karen Wygers half­way through the design process. She is very clever with space, flow, and feel, and project-man­aged the build with great pre­ci­sion and at­ten­tion to de­tail. It was so un-stress­ful— the most lovely build­ing process ever,” says Ni­cola.

The house is con­structed with suit­ably un­pre­ten­tious ma­te­ri­als: cor­ru­gated roof­ing; lofty, ex­posed-truss ceil­ings; lots of nat­u­ral wood trim­mings; ex­pan­sive win­dows; and floors fin­ished ei­ther with glossy, tex­tured con­crete, or with Canadian beech floor­boards. The pure white fin­ishes cre­ate a co­he­sive back­drop for the Ni­cola’s crisp, clean in­te­ri­ors. The decor is ut­terly sim­ple, but at the same time, very com­fort­able and homey. “I don’t mind kids and dogs ev­ery­where—this is a place for us to re­lax and live in so ev­ery­thing is loose-cov­ered and wash­able. The in­te­rior is prob­a­bly un­der-dec­o­rated, but it’s per­fect for us,” she says.

One of her fa­vorite things about the home is that the liv­ing space is so co­he­sive. “My kids were seven­teen and four­teen when we built, and we wanted a sin­gle-level house we could all share. Hol­i­days are about mak­ing me­mories. I didn’t want the teens dis­ap­pear­ing into a com­pletely sep­a­rate kids’ zone. It had to be a very in­ter­ac­tive space in which we would all spend time to­gether.”

In truth, the home buzzes with the en­ergy and ef­fer­ves­cence of the fab­u­lously ac­tive fam­ily that lives in it, and the snooker ta­ble in the kitchen area is a real gath­er­ing point. “Ev­ery fam­ily mem­ber starts the day with some kind of fe­ro­cious ac­tiv­ity—surf­ing, bike rid­ing, boat­ing, walk­ing around Rob­berg,” says Ni­cola. “And then we re­treat home to chill out by the pool or re­group be­fore the next bout of ex­er­cise or so­cial­iz­ing.”

The front door opens onto a vast vista of green and tran­quil­ity. The fam­ily is highly so­cia­ble, and the U-shaped home is clev­erly de­signed to let you make the most of ev­ery hol­i­day minute. The bed­room wings are on ei­ther side of the cen­tral open-plan liv­ing space, so you re­ally can get

away from it all if you’re looking for some down­time. The rest of the house com­prises com­mu­nal, open-plan liv­ing spa­ces.

“You can en­close spa­ces with the slid­ing In­dian doors, but we sel­dom do as we love chat­ting. We fling ev­ery­thing open when we ar­rive, and it just stays that way,” ex­plains the home­owner. The TV room and kitchen are one large room lead­ing onto the lounge, which also houses the out­sized din­ing ta­ble; gen­er­ous doors can be closed inside and out but are char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally left wide open. “Even in win­ter, we pre­fer to sit out­side,” says Ni­cola. “The view is so good from the ve­ran­dah that when it’s cold, we just light a fire. In fact, with the doors flung open, in­doors and out­side feel like one uni­fied space.”

With her down-to-earth touch, warmth, and as­ton­ish­ingly wel­com­ing attitude, Ni­cola has cre­ated a hol­i­day home that has mag­netic ap­peal for ev­ery­one. As she says, “This is a fab­u­lously so­cial home. Peo­ple— cousins, teenagers, friends, rel­a­tives, kids, dogs—pop in all the time to re­treat from the mad­ness of Plett… this home has changed my life­style and given me a re­treat. This is where I breathe, re­fuel, and re­group. It is such a won­der­fully happy house.”

Nat­u­ral tex­tures— pale and deep wood, wo­ven rugs, nat­u­ral fab­rics and sim­ple touches of green­ery—add just the right de­gree of in­ter­est and com­plex­ity. Get a sim­i­lar side ta­ble from Tri­boa Bay Liv­ing at LRI Design Plaza, and a sim­i­lar in­dus­trial lamp from Ur­ban Abode at CW Home De­pot Or­ti­gas.

THE BAtH In tHE mAstEr suItE Is sur­rounDED on tHrEE sIDEs By GlAss. It HAs mAG­nIf­i­CEnt moun­tAIn vIEws AnD Is onE oF NI­ColA’s FA­vorItE spA­CEs. GEt A sIm­I­lAr BAtH­tuB lo­CAlly From DExtErton, www.DExtErton.Com.

A HInt oF GrAy pro­vIDEs suB­tlE Color In GInA’s BED­room. As sHE oF­tEn HAs FrIEnDs wHo stAy, It makes sense to Fur­nIsH tHe room wItH two Dou­Ble BeDs. A Col­laGe oF pHo­to­GrapHs taken By NI­Cola Cap­tures Happy me­morIes. Get a sIm­I­lar ruG From HaBI­tat, anD a wHIte metal CaBI­net lIke tHIs From MöBler.

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