Into the Blue

In Cape Town’s in­ti­mate coastal com­mu­nity of Bakoven, the Mad­dox fam­ily have set­tled into a life­style quite dif­fer­ent from the Parisian one they left be­hind


Bril­liant eth­nic touches in­form this beach­side home in South Africa.


Ash­ley Mad­dox, a Prince­ton Univer­sity grad­u­ate, re­calls her African pol­i­tics pro­fes­sor men­tion­ing the African bug – some peo­ple were just bit­ten by it, he said. And so it was for Ash­ley when she vis­ited South Africa for the first time in 1994 to ob­serve the coun­try’s first demo­cratic elec­tion. ‘It was the most life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,’ she ad­mits. Once she’d grad­u­ated, she re­turned to South Africa for al­most two years as a Ful­bright Scholar liv­ing in Camps Bay, a coastal sub­urb down the road from her cur­rent neigh­bour­hood. It was Bakoven, how­ever – named af­ter a boul­der re­sem­bling a pizza oven – that was her favourite spot, and she re­turned sev­eral times in the in­ter­ven­ing years for hol­i­days there. Af­ter Ash­ley met her hus­band in Los An­ge­les, the cou­ple moved to Paris for a six-year stint where they es­tab­lished a web­site called Where I’d Stay, fea­tur­ing a port­fo­lio of stylish rental apart­ments. How­ever, the pull of Africa was al­ways in the back­ground and Ash­ley ex­plains the de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate there. ‘A lot of things came to a close at the end of 2014, and that’s when we de­cided that we should go and have this great ad­ven­ture,’ she says. So they left Paris on the dark­est night of the year and landed in sunny Cape Town, in the mid­dle of sum­mer, ‘our eyes blink­ing like the moles in The Wind in the Wil­lows,’ she laughs. The fam­ily home that has been lov­ingly cre­ated in Bakoven clearly re­flects a love of colour and be­ing close to the sea, as well as many el­e­ments from their trav­els. ‘What makes this area spe­cial is that there are 40 houses lin­ing nar­row al­ley­ways, clus­tered around two small beaches. There are fam­i­lies here who de­scend upon the neigh­bour­hood play­ground ev­ery day af­ter school. It’s a gor­geous lit­tle com­mu­nity,’ she says.

The sea plays a fo­cal role in Ash­ley’s home – and not only be­cause it fea­tures a 180-de­gree view of the At­lantic Ocean. The port­hole win­dows on the front door and in the kitchen carry a nau­ti­cal theme, as do the pat­terned, hand­made Moroc­can tiles fea­tur­ing loop­ing blue lines up the out­side of the house which cre­ate a strik­ing first im­pres­sion. Long-time friends Sa­muel and Caitlin Dowe-San­des of Mar­rakesh-based Popham De­sign gave the fam­ily the tiles as a house-warm­ing present, and a great deal of time was spent piec­ing them to­gether like a gi­ant un­wieldy puzzle. ‘It took for­ever,’ she laughs. The floors were buck­ling like a ti­dal wave when they moved in. Now, flat as a lake, they are adorned with an as­sort­ment of items sourced from all over Africa, which com­bine hap­pily with the French fur­nish­ings they brought with them. In­deed, Ash­ley made a con­scious ef­fort to find things that were hand­made in Africa to co-ex­ist with the likes of the French vin­tage wicker and light­ing. And there’s no short­age of ex­am­ples to re­flect this im­pres­sive pan-African col­lec­tion: the tiles, carpets and Fez Pom Pom blan­kets are from Morocco, the grass and leather wo­ven carpets hail from Mau­ri­ta­nia, while the bas­kets orig­i­nate from Zam­bia, Kenya and Uganda. Then there are Mada­gas­can shells, Ivory Coast wax fab­rics, a vin­tage Nige­rian head­dress, chairs and throws from Malawi, Swazi­land glass­ware, and a pink feather head­dress from Cameroon. ‘When we first moved in, the house was all white ev­ery­where – very stark with big, white, poufy, shabby chic-type couches. You can cre­ate so much per­son­al­ity just with colour,’ Ash­ley ex­plains. ‘All the colour and the piz­zazz here is from Africa.’ Stand­ing in the bright turquoise guest bed­room, Ash­ley ex­plains that each of the up­stairs rooms has been painted to match the spec­trum of blues and greens that the fam­ily has ob­served in the sea’s many shades since their ar­rival. The walls are more of a stormy blue in the larger guest bed­room over­look­ing the ocean, which is an ap­pro­pri­ate choice con­sid­er­ing

the ad­ja­cent door opens to a bal­cony and the sound of the crash­ing waves just be­yond. The cerulean shade in the master bed­room was in­spired by a visit to the stu­dio of South African artist Paul Senyol – in­deed, a large paint­ing of his hangs in the en­trance­way down­stairs. ‘Be­fore we moved here from France, I was look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion in South African de­sign and there were two artists who I re­ally loved. One was Paul and the other was An­drzej Ur­ban­ski. I had no idea that they were both in Cape Town, or that they are rep­re­sented by the same gallery, have ex­hib­ited to­gether and are best friends, as I found them from to­tally dif­fer­ent sources.’ Ash­ley’s eclec­tic style is a re­flec­tion of her ev­ere­volv­ing jour­ney. ‘I pre­fer liv­ing with things that have a bit of a soul,’ she says. ‘Things that are sim­ple and well de­signed and have a story to them.’

Above The chairs at ei­ther end of the table are by French fur­ni­ture de­signer Con­stance Guis­set and the pat­terned wax print school chairs are by South African fash­ion de­signer San­da­lene Dale-Roberts. The con­tem­po­rary chan­de­lier is from Ate­lier Areti.

Clock­wise from above A bal­cony in the mas­ter bed­room wel­comes in the fresh sea breeze. In this stormy sea blue guest bed­room, the car­pet and Fez Pom Pom blan­ket hail from Morocco, the black and white pho­to­graph over the bed is by Malian pho­tog­ra­pher...

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