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 ➤

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