AN URBAN BARN
This Constantia home has been given new contemporary life through judicious and thoughtful decorating
Clever decor updates transformed this Cape Town house
Asuccessful house makeover requires a few essential ingredients: a measure of imagination, plenty of expertise and a little luck.
When the owners of this property in Constantia, Cape Town, wanted to give their house a refresh, they called on Cape-based interior designer Lesley Arnot to provide guidance and oversee the project. It was a happy choice. Her experience is wide-ranging and her approach attentive.
“My brief,” says Lesley, “was to work with much of what was already there – cherished family pieces – but also to give it all a new edge.” The challenge was to bring focus to the disparate elements and combine them into a cohesive whole. Some of the changes were subtle, others were substantial, but the result is unequivocally dramatic and yet still inviting.
The central living room was barn-like: it was long and large, with a pitchedbeam ceiling. It stretched from a kitchen space at the rear, past a dining section and feature bar, to an informal living area. Although no major structural changes were made to its footprint, Lesley’s first inspirational move was
to install two 3m-high, black steelframed windows on either side of the fireplace to ground the far end of the long room and allow the abundant north light in.
Walls were enlivened with a striking new colour, carpets were updated and sofas custom made. Harmony between these various elements had to be achieved. “I tried to make every part of the house stylish as well as comfortable – a space that’s relaxing and where you feel you can read a book,” she observes.
Leading off this room, forming a connection with the topiaried garden, is a covered patio. Weather screens enable it to be used as an outside room, with decor that ref lects understated European glam with a nod to African rustic. Lesley used rush matting, camping stools and touches of pecan-brown leather juxtaposed with a white linen sofa and potted fig trees.
At the owner’s request, a deft conversion of two bedrooms with one shared bathroom created two en suite bedrooms, which flow into a brand-new
shower room. Privacy is ensured by using seamless glass screens for toilets and showers, creating the chic functionality of a boutique hotel bathroom.
The bedrooms open up onto a wide veranda that overlooks the garden and swimming pool, creating a sense of tranquil privacy away from the livingspace wing.
And that little bit of luck? Serendipity played a part one day when, on a visit to a city store and having used up her budget, Lesley managed to swap an existing carpet for one with the exact colour palette she was looking for to complete her mandate.
In its new guise, this house has the presence both of a long-established home and a smart contemporary one – it’s well set to take the owners into the next chapter of their lives.
LEFT: The topiary feature gives thegarden a formal look.
THIS SPREAD, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: The patio has a rustic African feel with comfortable textures, thick-weave bamboo, rush matting, a sofa upholstered in fabric from Mavromac & Gatehouse and fiddle-back fig trees. The bar separating the kitchendining area from the informal sitting room was existing and given a new black varnish to update it. The chandeliers were also retained. The sofas were made to the owners’ specs by Leon at CCXIX. The colour on the wall is Borrie from Midas Paints Tygervalley.
THIS PAGE, FROM TOP: In the diningarea, the table and chairs are from Pierre Cronje. The eat-in kitchen area is demarcated and accentuated by tall black cabinets. The Itai Vangani painting was framed by In-Fin-Art in Wynberg. The rug was Lesley’s lucky find.
Cushions in Kelim-look fabric from St Leger & Viney add vibrance to the main bedroom.The throw is from Moorgas & Waldron. A large mirror adds to the sense of space.