This bright, airy home in Hig­govale, Cape Town, wasn’t al­ways so Si­na­tra-chic. When Dun­can Ar­tus, a di­rec­tor at an as­set man­age­ment firm, bought the house two years ago, it was a time capsule from the 1980s – bathed in bold colours and mes­meris­ing mo­saics, with ad hoc ren­o­va­tions that didn’t gel to­gether.

But its lo­ca­tion suited him per­fectly. An avid trail run­ner, he has easy ac­cess to those criss­cross­ing Ta­ble Moun­tain and loves that he can leap into the pool for a quick cool-off on his re­turn. Just five min­utes away is Kloof Street with its vibey bars and restau­rants.

At 400m2 the north-fac­ing home is not huge, but the 1 000m2 plot on which it sits has great po­ten­tial for fu­ture ex­pan­sion, another huge plus for Dun­can. Drop­ping down the val­ley in three tiers, the garage sits on street level, while one level lower is the dwelling’s en­trance, two spare bed­rooms, a bath­room and study. The fi­nal tier is the main liv­ing/din­ing room, master bed­room, deck and pool.

Dun­can en­trusted the pro­ject to in­te­rior de­signer Ash­leigh Gil­mour and pro­ject man­ager Peter Mcna­mara, giv­ing them carte blanche bar two sim­ple re­quests: lots of space and light, and a wine cel­lar to house his beloved reds. Dun­can chose not to live through the six-month ren­o­va­tion in res­i­dence, but was kept abreast of its progress ev­ery two weeks with an off-site PDF pre­sen­ta­tion by Ash­leigh and Peter. ‘It was great,’ he says. ‘If there was any vari­ance to the bud­get what­so­ever, I was im­me­di­ately made aware of it dur­ing the bi-weekly meet­ing and had to sign off on it. Of course we went over bud­get, ren­o­va­tions al­ways do, but at least there were no rude sur­prises at the end.’

Walls in the kitchen and study were torn down to bet­ter in­te­grate the spa­ces. All the lights were re­placed, the mo­saics de­mol­ished, ev­ery fin­ish was re­done and the painted bagged brick through­out the house was plas­tered over, the new walls made white. Well-worn traver­tine tiles were torn up and re­placed with Lifestyle Oak en­gi­neered wood floor­ing in Smoked, Oiled White from Al­bert Car­pets.

The tiled fish­pond, which took up the en­tire in­ner court­yard, was re­moved en­tirely and re­placed with a wooden deck and bench planter, cre­at­ing a pro­tected ex­te­rior space that could be ac­cessed on blus­tery days, when the ex­posed ter­race proved too windy.

The big boxy com­bus­tion fire­place in the main room was re­moved, open­ing up the L-shaped liv­ing space, and in­stead

a sleek, barely there, flue­less fire­place was in­stalled. ‘Even though it’s flue­less, we cre­ated a covert ex­trac­tor that feeds back into the room be­hind the wall cab­i­netry above,’ ex­plains Ash­leigh. ‘That way we can be sure that the flatscreen tele­vi­sion hid­den within won’t melt from the em­a­nat­ing heat be­low.’

The com­pletely co­he­sive makeover al­most wasn’t, as Dun­can was orig­i­nally pre­pared to skip ren­o­vat­ing the kitchen and the bath­rooms. ‘They were okay when we started,’ he ex­plains. ‘But as the ren­o­va­tion pro­gressed it be­came ap­par­ent that what looked okay against the orig­i­nal back­drop, looked shoddy and tired com­pared to the rest of the up­date.’

The en­tire back end of the house fea­tures re­tractable glass pan­elling that al­lows the home to drink in the views of the val­ley and stat­uesque Lion’s Head im­me­di­ately op­po­site. To pre­serve this un­par­al­leled vista, low-pro­file fur­ni­ture with a 1950s aes­thetic was cho­sen so as not to block or com­pete. Dun­can was also adamant that the view from the glass en­trance door should be main­tained so that ar­riv­ing visi­tors can ad­mire the vista out of the back of the house be­fore they’ve even en­tered the front.

The in­te­rior colour pal­ette cen­tres around two pil­lows from Pezula In­te­ri­ors that sit in the lounge. The patch­work of colours caught Ash­leigh’s eye and she used the colour scheme of muted teals, greys and even a splash of pink to give the home its mod­ern bach­e­lor feel. A wall cov­ered in a char­coal tex­tured wall­pa­per anchors the oth­er­wise light and airy home. ‘I like dark el­e­ments,’ says Ash­leigh. ‘They im­part a ma­tu­rity to a space, es­tab­lish a mood.’

Dun­can, who gave away all his pre­vi­ously col­lected be­long­ings when he moved from his Clifton beach apart­ment to Hig­govale, wanted a fresh start. ‘I didn’t want dust col­lec­tors in my new place,’ he ex­plains. As a re­sult, the home feels min­i­mal but by no means bar­ren, with care­fully se­lected state­ment pieces, like the pen­dant Fin Light by Tom Dixon hang­ing above the din­ing ta­ble, pro­vid­ing eye-catch­ing in­ter­est. Like­wise, the wall art was all bought to com­ple­ment the new ren­o­va­tion. With the big­ger pic­ture in mind, Ash­leigh steered Dun­can’s pref­er­ence for mod­ern, pat­terned and ab­stract art­works to­wards pieces that tonally chime with the room in which they fea­ture. Find the spe­cial­ists’ de­tails in the HL Black Book (page 94)

The Fin Light by Tom Dixon hangs above a Pierre Cronje cus­tomde­signed din­ing ta­ble, sur­rounded by Os­car Ele­gante din­ing chairs from OKHA. LEFT Three art­works by Paul Senyol tie in with pil­lows from Pezula In­te­ri­ors (pezu­lain­te­ri­ that in­spired...

BE­FORE ABOVE The big boxy com­bus­tion fire­place was re­moved, open­ing up the L-shaped liv­ing space.

Dun­can re­laxes on his Camp­bell sofa up­hol­stered in Kirby Zen, from Tonic (ton­icde­, in front of a Kutu Slim cof­fee ta­ble with Nero Mar­quina mar­ble from OKHA ( The art­work on the wall be­hind the sofa is ‘Con­ti­nents Adrift’ by Natasha...

High up in Hig­govale, Dun­can Ar­tus’ house over­looks the val­ley and across the city to the sea.


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