THE GREAT ESCAPE
An influential Johannesburgbased executive has fashioned a dynamic hideaway high above the waters of Cape Town’s Llandudno
If Johannesburg is this Cameroonian-born business consultant and homeowner’s yin, then Cape Town is his yang. The former is the nucleus of his frenetic work life; the latter, his cocoon, of sorts – a source of calm and release. It was critical, then, that the holiday home he bought four years ago in the cove of Llandudno in the Mother City be the ultimate embodiment of slow living. Perched high up on the mountainside, edged by boulders and fynbos, the multilevel residence that stands here today bears little resemblance to the house that the owner viewed on his first visit to the site. Where the original turned inwards, the renovated house unfolds to the outside, breathing it in. ‘What struck me when I saw the old property was the upstairs area,’ he says. ‘It was all closed up, with absolutely no views, and I remember thinking how amazing it would be if we opened up that space.’
Asked to do just that, Bomax Architects has successfully made the extraordinary vistas the hero of the home. Thanks to an abundance of glass, there isn’t a corner of Belles Vues, as the house has been named, that doesn’t look out onto at least a slice of the blue expanse beyond – even the main bedroom’s open-plan bathroom becomes one with the seascape by connecting to a spectacular outdoor shower. And if you happen to be faced away from the curl of beach below, you can still take in sights of a different kind, as clerestory windows and glass inserts make the rocky slope behind the property part of the furnishings.
This preoccupation with the setting hasn’t meant that the interiors were neglected, however. Adam Court of Okha Design & Interiors has transformed the structure into a quiet celebration of its owner’s character and interests. The owner, in Court’s words, ‘embodies modern Africa’, and the decor pays tribute to the continent in a minimalist way. ‘We’ve brought it down to shape and colour, reducing the African aesthetic to purist geometry,’ says the designer. ‘We sort of zoomed in and exploded the detail – so, it’s subtle, but it’s still there.’
With its intricately carved sculptural blocks and brass handle, the front door is the most noteworthy reference to African craft, and it’s a thing of wonder – ‘a monster to make’, says Court. Other allusions to the continent abound, and to ensure that the furniture worked with the flow of the rectilinear property, almost all of it was custom-made by Okha Design & Interiors – ‘We didn’t shop; we crafted,’ says Court. The result is an elegant collection of rugs, seating and tables washed in earthy tones and marked with graphic etchings.
The home’s two tiers also express different aspects of the man who resides here. According to Court, the owner’s ‘quiet, reserved side’ finds expression in the restrained shades of the open-plan ground floor, where the formal lounge, dining area and kitchen are all located. Here, an immense granite boulder around which the house was built takes pride of place, and its intriguing shadow tones and textures echo throughout the lower level in Court’s choice of pale raw wood, polished copper, pearl grey upholstery and stucco plaster. Upstairs, on the other hand, channels the owner’s fun, charismatic side with bold geometrics, glossy metallics and spicy oranges in the entertainment zone, as well as shots of cobalt blue in the otherwise neutral bedroom.
When asked about his favourite corner of the property, the owner cites the curved outside deck and daybed area, with its undisturbed panorama. ‘I love how quiet it is there,’ he says. ‘The only sound is the crashing of the waves.’ It is the real crowning glory of a house that’s designed to be both soothing and functional, with every detail of it geared toward the business of relaxing. bomax.co.za; okha.com