want to live in an adventure, not a museum,’ says Natalie Knight looking around her colourful kitchen in Oranjezicht, Cape Town.
Natalie and her family moved into the circa 1902 house two years ago – transforming the then 13-bedroom guesthouse into a more modern fivebedroom family home.
‘It was a mammoth task,’ she says. ‘One that only lunatics or romantics would undertake. For the first month we didn’t even have windowpanes.’
Today, the Victorian façade belie the Alice-in-wonderland interiors: gleaming surfaces, rich colours, layers of bold pattern and quirky objects.
But none of the rooms better encapsulates the vibrant spirit of the house than the kitchen. It is here where Natalie and her two daughters, Willow and Luella, spend many a happy hour together.
‘The kitchen is – and should be – the heart of the home,’ says Natalie. ‘I spend most of my time there cooking and entertaining. The kids also cook and sometimes it’s even edible,’ she smiles.
Inspiration for the kitchen came via Pinterest when Natalie happened upon actress Cameron Diaz’s Manhattan kitchen designed by Kelly Wearstler. The jewellery-box space – enrobed in emerald green and brass – immediately caught her fancy as she ‘wanted the space to be fun and colourful, just like its inhabitants’.
Architect Jan Desseyn was tasked with the layout: a large open-plan kitchen flanked by a breakfast room with a fireplace on one side for cosy entertaining, and a scullery to hide the mess of everyday life on the other.
Natalie enlisted the help of interior designer Danela Conti when it came to choosing the palette. The pair went for shades of jewel blue – from cerulean to teal – offsetting the high-gloss surfaces and vivid fabric choices with warm metallic accents, wood and ceramics.
Clever design adaptations further ensure that the space is as practical as it is glamorous: the scullery can be closed off; two dishwashers guarantee that there is never a dirty plate in sight, and custom cabinetry hide a multitude of appliances.
But there was one problem: ‘We had a dead space left over from the renovation,’ explains Natalie. ‘It was above the cooker and looked onto an alleyway which was horrendous.’ Cue Jeremy Killian from Natures Blueprint. ‘Jeremy came up with the incredible idea of turning it into a “shop window”,’ explains Natalie. ‘He commissioned a graffiti artist to paint foliage on the back walls and we dressed it with birdcages and lights. We can now change up the display and place anything from Easter bunnies to Christmas decorations or birthday balloons in the space,’ she says. The reimagined space, like the entire house, provides the family with constant joy – just as a home should. Danela Conti danelaconti.com; Natures Blueprint
naturesblueprint.co.za; Jan Desseyn Architects
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