A coastal home in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, features colourful artwork and unique pieces to create a craft-inspired aesthetic
This coastal home in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, has a boho aesthetic with contemporary cool.
Aholiday home poses a very particular challenge to a designer – it must be all things to all people. An oasis of calm, a beacon of fun, a showcase for signature style: it needs to tick all the boxes but not at the expense of any single one. This kind of task needs a cohesive team and a clear vision, and this particular beach house in Plettenberg Bay (one of the most popular and sought-after spots on South Africa’s Garden Route coastal stretch) had both. Designer Kim Stephen, who lives and works in London, and the owner Anthea Newbury are long-time friends and shared a vision for the design ethos of the beachside home. A lot of thought went into creating spaces for everyone – from the study to escape to when the house is noisy and a pool room for the owners’ teenage sons to spend time in, to generous bedrooms that could convert easily to accommodate friends and family – a key element of successful holiday living. Kim and Anthea set out on what would become a two-year adventure, travelling together and sourcing pieces from around South Africa – Cape Town, Johannesburg and Plettenberg Bay – that encapsulated their vision. Anthea and her husband Anton wanted a look that could be nutshelled as ‘ boho/eclectic’ and needed someone to bring it to life when they brought Kim on board. ‘They knew what they were looking for and I felt I could do justice to their lifestyle,’ explains Kim. ‘I was also excited to leave my own aesthetic behind and go along on the journey of realising their creative vision.’ This included steering clear of coastal clichés. ‘We did not want a typical beach house – you know, blue and white with
whitewashed wood. Nothing “shabby chic”,’ Anthea says. ‘And yet, we also didn’t want an ultra modern, balanced or set decor. Instead, we aimed for an almost unplanned, thrown-together feel.’ Somewhere in the middle, they found a style vibe that was both sophisticated and relaxed. ‘It is a family home, but our boys are in their late teens now, so we could afford to up the glamour factor a bit. We were very aware of comfort without compromising on style,’ explains Anthea. Loosely inspired by dream destinations on the Mediterranean, and Ibiza in particular, the idea was to fill the space with interesting finds and beautiful artwork, against a strong white and natural palette to create a curated feel. Anthea’s vision from the beginning was interesting, layered and offbeat. Not too balanced, nor too decorated. Colour too, needed a bit of compromise. ‘I like a lot of it, my husband less so, so we had to find a happy medium,’ she explains. As a designer, Kim is known for her jewel-box use of colour, so between the three of them, a clever and democratic approach was established. As a result, most colour is seen in
the artwork: where the rest of the decor has a breezy, white base with blue and black accents, the pieces pop in kaleidoscopic colour – a smart and sophisticated solution that creates a thread of art running throughout the house and highlights it as a feature. ‘One of our greatest passions is collecting art,’ points out Anthea. And though the selection might appear unexpected, the pieces, which range from oils to installations, were carefully selected to enhance each space – either by adding colour or by throwing off the balance in a room. While the owners and designers wanted to draw on the incredible location as inspiration – something the property as a whole does (the garden was planned as an extension of the dune) - they wanted to avoid anything too rustic. Natural textures were important in order to create a home that felt comfortable in its surroundings and the decor scheme features wood,
raffia and basketry prominently. Kim and Anthea were each other’s monitors here, and put each other right if either strayed slightly off, or too far into beach-house territory, always pulling it back to the boho aesthetic: this complementary partnership undoubtedly ensured that they kept to the brief. ‘We were each other’s counterpoints – I sometimes tempered Anthea’s wilder ideas but she also stretched my creativity, as this house is non-conformist in many ways,’ comments Kim. This collaborative approach has resulted in a cocooning base that is balanced with a sense of drama, all of which is perfectly in sync with the family’s need for easy elegance – playful, but perfectly appointed.
Opposite page A variety of seats and loungers are arranged on the sea-facing verandah to make the most of the uninterrupted views. Above left to right As the house is exposed to the coastal elements, the owners researched the prevailing winds and designed the house around a sheltered courtyard. The second floor terrace has more casual seating to enjoy the sensational outlook.
The pool-facing facade of the house speaks to its Mediterranean influences – the wooden shutters and red-tiled roof nod to villa living. A boho feel through interesting textiles and folksy references was Ibiza-inspired, while elements like this white pebble floor treatment are reminiscent of a Greek island cottage.
A clean, crisp white foundation gives the house a feeling of freshness and serves as the perfect foil for the natural textures, which contrast so effectively against the boho accents – ethnic textiles, animal print accessories and inlaid tables.
The art displayed throughout the house is the only area where colours deviate from the strict palette. These dreamy and ethereal pieces add to the sense of escapism.
The black and white theme runs throughout the house – here a café chair provides a smart dressing table solution.