The co-founder of a Swedish furniture chain finds respite in a Cape Town home filled with upcycled and salvaged pieces and fittings that reflect its historical character
Asking Anett Jorméus to describe her style is like asking a painter why they paint. There is no straight answer. “My spaces are what they are because of what I need in order to live the way I like to live,” she explains.
Of course, it’s not difficult to see that Anett has a wonderful ability for creating easy-on-the-eye spaces. In fact, it’s her eye for accessible style and her impeccable design sensibility that helped shape Granit, one of Sweden’s most successful lifestyle and interiors chains.
Quite simply, Anett is allergic to overly designed or overly thought-about spaces and furniture. Dig a little deeper and when asked why she decided to renovate her home using salvage-yard and junk-shop finds, the ever-pragmatic Anett says: “It’s a really old house, I just felt it needed old things to bring it back to life.” And bring it back to life she did. Situated in Green Point, a quaint neighbourhood close to the sea and some five minutes from the CBD, Anett and her family’s renovated Victorian space is filled with perfectly imperfect furniture and fittings that reflect its historical character wonderfully. From the utilitarian concrete counters in the kitchen to the sanded-down and unvarnished Oregon doors throughout; the patches of exposed original brickwork and artisan-made furniture, Anett has chosen finishes and furnishings that hide no secrets, that are handmade and all about authenticity.
Anett, her former husband and their three children first visited Cape Town on holiday nine years ago. Within days their beach break was transformed into a house-hunting mission. “We just knew it was somewhere we could live. It has everything from amazing restaurants to beautiful beaches and outdoor landscapes and the weather is great,” says Anett who, as a keen road cyclist and tennis player, was also seduced by the promise of amazing road rides and games at a nearby tennis club with a sea view.
Just a few months later, the family had moved to the city, the children were enrolled in new schools and life at the Southern tip of Africa began. Though Anett and her family rented in nearby Camps Bay for the next few years, in the back of their minds was a desire for somewhere they could call their own — but the perfect spot remained elusive.
Fast forward to two years ago when the family realised they wanted to return to Sweden so the children could finish their schooling there. As luck would have it, they found this property just a month before they were due to depart. They snapped it up virtually on first sight.
“It had belonged to an old lady in her 90s who passed away and was a rather neglected home. The first thing we noticed were the really high ceilings (“my ex-husband and I are both very tall”), then the lovely thick walls and the old original wooden floors and ceilings. After that, the small dark rooms, funny old yard and the strange configuration didn’t matter — all we could see was potential. And you could just feel it had so much soul,” she says. Anett called in her friend Pete Anneslye, a builder with a passion for historical properties and an ability and willingness to work with her over Skype while she was in Sweden. Over the course of the 12-month renovation, while many of the home’s original features were preserved, much also changed. Walls were knocked down to release the space of a series of poky rooms and to create an openplan living area. The original backyard became the pool — and a stunning central feature. “We have a bedroom in the front of the house, an adjacent kitchen, a central living area and two more bedrooms at the back. After seeing what our neighbour did by adding a floor, I did the same to create a main upstairs bedroom and bathroom,” says Anett. “I love it!” While still in the city and on subsequent visits over the course of the year, Anett sourced suitable fittings at junk shops and demolition yards, and made a series of impulse purchases that just felt right.
There were no moodboards mulled over, no colour palettes planned, Anett simply operated on gut feel. It’s exactly how she builT Granit into the successful homeware brand it is today and, it’s safe to say, it worked perfectly.
The home is warm, understated and pared down, without being sterile. Plants bring personality to the space, as do the lovingly crafted furniture items and wooden architraves sanded back to life. Quirky finds, from stained laboratory sinks to a mathematics blackboard and a slightly down-at-heel velvet sofa and chairs, add character and the sense that this space is about everything but perfection.
While family, friends and business keep her in Stockholm for much of the year, Anett and her children come to cape Town as often as possible. The rest of the time, the house is rented out. It’s here, she says, that they really can just “be”. It’s a place where they have time to cook together, to go for long bike rides along the Atlantic, to head to the beach, to a nearby yoga studio or to the newest eatery in what is becoming one of the world’s culinary hotspots.
“Aside from the pool, which is the best place for a skinny dip after a long ride out to Chapman’s Peak and back, it’s outside on the terrace, where there’s a huge granadilla tree and where you can just see the sea, that I love to sit the most,” she says.
“Sometimes an hour will go by and I won’t even notice. That never happens when I’m in Sweden!”
This home, lovingly coaxed into a new era, is proof that sometimes going back to the past can bring us into being absolutely in the present. And that in itself is priceless.
The dining area links the kitchen and pool and is a cosy space in winter, thanks to the open hearth. The table, found at a local furniture shop, had been commissioned for a chateau in France and the client hadn’t arrived to fetch it. The Malawi chairs were sourced from Ashanti Design.
A concrete counter and exposed copper pipes in one of the bathrooms sets a utilitarian and ascetic tone.
Anett has a keen eye for the beauty in the seemingly everyday – like this grouping of succulent cuttings.