Or­ganic Chem­istry

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.

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