Interior decorator and former magazine decor editor Juliette Arrighi de Casanova’s bijou home in Kenilworth proves that big surprises can come in the tiniest packages
Compact meets character in this 47m2 apartment in Kenilworth, Cape Town, where its interior decorator owner has injected her bold personality into her small space in a big way
n the colour-charged, vividly imaginative headspace of interior decorator Juliette Arrighi de Casanova, there’s always room for a touch of animal print. ‘I consider it a neutral,’ she laughs, plumping a zebra scatter cushion on her moss-green velvet sofa. ‘Although there are strict degrees of what’s considered sophisticated versus plain vulgar.’ No stranger to cajoling the best from a seasonally changing panoply of patterns, textures and palettes, Arrighi de Casanova has established her young decorating business off the back of several years’ working in the magazine industry as a decor editor. Prior to that, she gained on-the-ground experience styling private homes under the mentorship of interior designer Andrea Graff. Unsurprisingly, the crafty repertoire of industry tricks she finessed over this time proved expedient when it came to dealing with the blank slate of her own new apartment in Cape Town’s southern suburbs.
‘Bought off-plan, the apartment was very basic,’ she says, ‘and I was limited in my choices by budget constraints and a lack of space.’ Indeed, with a footprint measuring a micro 47m2, it’s the ultimate compact lock-up-and-go home for the itinerant traveller she is. The challenge was to transform it into a comfortable, practical home and workspace that would also resonate with her distinctive personal style.
While some might think a less-is-more approach would be the key to handling a space of this size, for Arrighi de Casanova, the opposite seems to apply… within reason, of course. ‘If something doesn’t have a function, there’s no need for it,’ she says. ‘But, like many people, I had to work with what I already have, and I can still walk around my big table with ease. It taught me that you don’t have to be afraid of using larger pieces in a small space. If anything, I think bigger is better. I didn’t hold back with the scale of things.’
Neither did she hold back when it came to the exuberant aesthetic of her home, working off a base of black and white, with light charcoal vinyl floors and natural textures such as jute for warmth, then adding bold strokes of blue-and-white chinoiserie, pops of acid yellow and splashes of pink. On the walls, Piero Fornasetti prints hang alongside acrylic canvasses that she painted herself and a few sentimental inherited works. ‘I don’t like empty spaces, and certainly not empty wall space,’ Arrighi de Casanova says. ‘I like to fill things up, whether it’s with a plant in the corner or a mirror and a piece of art on the wall.’
For this interior designer, it’s all about layering. ‘I like to mix and match patterns and shapes and to create different lines, thereby keeping the eye interested,’ she says. ‘When do I stop? There are no bounds for me!’ It’s completely in sync with a design aesthetic she describes as contemporary, fun and personality-filled. ‘I love it when you walk into a space and can immediately identify it with the person who lives there,’ she adds.
Taking inspiration from her travels, especially visits to her ‘second home’, Paris, and influenced by the multitude of exotic homes her ‘gypsy-like’ French father has lived in over the years and the more classic, worldly style of her interior designer mother, Arrighi de Casanova is a natural when it comes to creating narratives. ‘It’s all about finding the stories and weaving them together,’ she says. ‘There’s always a thread that ties everything together.’
I love it when you walk into a space and can immediately identify it with the person who lives there
this page Homeowner and interior decorator Juliette Arrighi de Casanova at work at her vintage Tulip table by Eero Saarinen in the open-plan living area. opposite An inherited wood-and-rattan shelving unit has been styled with tableaux of books, art and objets. The graphic black-and-white Ashanti stool is from Weylandts.
this page A photographic print by Jen Jengo crowns the bed. opposite (clockwise from top left) Arrighi de Casanova adds one of her own canvasses to her art wall; reclaimed cane chairs were given a new lease of life with a coat of paint and fresh upholstery; the sideboard in the living area is from Vamp; Delft wallpaper from Cara Saven frames the bedroom entrance.