Search for solitude
Surrounded by scrubland, with only the local wildlife as neighbours, this South African cabin is a true retreat
Standing alone in scrubland, with only the local wildlife as neighbours, this South African cabin is a true escape from the world
‘It’s very hard to put into words,’ says William Mellor, struggling to do justice to the experience of relaxing on the terrace at Cabine du Cap in Little Karoo, South Africa. ‘The valley surrounds you like a vast amphitheatre, and you feel completely removed from the world. Your senses are heightened, trying to pick out the different animal sounds.’ It’s easy to understand what he means. Rugged tufts of indigenous plants, an uninhabited landscape and a bleachedout quality to the light invoke a mood of cogitation at this off-grid ranch, just a two-hour drive from the Mellors’ main home in the capital city of Cape Town.
‘It all started with a dream to have an outdoor bathtub,’ says William’s wife Samantha, who now runs a collection of holiday homes with her husband. Indeed, the whole property was carefully planned around the placement of their custom-made galvanised steel bath: far enough away from the roof to enjoy an unobstructed eyeful of the star-washed sky at night. ‘ We sometimes put on the Out of Africa soundtrack, sit in the bath and watch the sun set,’ she laughs.
The house is built on the site of what was once a ramshackle animal enclosure – but from very first sight, the couple could see its potential to be a place where they could escape the world. ‘ We fell in love with a material called Rhino Wood because of how it blends into the setting,’ says Samantha. This sustainable, durable modified wood was used for the decking and expanding the living space. The large stone-walled fireplace was another new addition – ‘essential for the cold winter nights,’ notes William.
There is an air of carefree vacations to almost every aspect of life at Cabine du Cap, from lazy afternoons spent enjoying the outdoor living areas to the charms of the basic kitchen. ‘ When you go for walks, it’s a lot like being in the south of France,’ says Samantha, adding that the couple’s four-year-old daughter Francesca is particularly fond of the opportunity for adventure afforded by the terrain. ‘At night, the stars take you aback. I know, it sounds like a cliché,’ William concedes with a smile, ‘ but you don’t really understand until you’re there: it’s completely silent, the moon is like a spotlight… You stand there and all of your troubles disappear.’
Outdoor seating area Several of the chairs are from William’s furniture brand Malawi Cane, while the white armchairs are an old set from his family, re-covered in linen Stockist details on p167 ➤