na­ture in­spired

Tracy and rus­sell Bolt­man’s mid-cen­tury mod­ern fam­ily home nes­tles beau­ti­fully among its nat­u­ral sur­round­ings

Living Etc - - HOMES ⁄ ETC - Photography / Elsa Young/frank Fea­tures Pro­duc­tion / Luanne Toms Words / Ker­ryn Fis­cher

ÔThe real joy of this house is that amidst our busy lives it al­lows us to re­con­nect as a fam­ily,’ says Tracy Bolt­man, of the sleek home on the slopes of Ta­ble Moun­tain that she shares with her hus­band Rus­sell and their three chil­dren. Set on the last row of res­i­den­tial homes that bor­der the pris­tine Ta­ble Moun­tain Na­tional Park in Cape Town, it’s an en­vi­able de­sign in an ab­so­lutely stel­lar lo­ca­tion. ‘I know this may sound trite as it’s just bricks and mor­tar – or wood and stone for that mat­ter – but build­ing this home forced us to re­flect on the con­tra­dic­tory na­ture of those things we hold most dear to us, namely: be­ing to­gether as a fam­ily and en­ter­tain­ing with loved ones ver­sus a real need for soli­tude and be­ing in na­ture.’

That they have man­aged to cre­ate both a fam­ily home and an ur­ban moun­tain re­treat, is an ex­tra­or­di­nary tri­umph of their will and a savvy sense of de­sign. Rus­sell and Tracy bought the plot four years ago when they were look­ing for a home that could ac­com­mo­date their grow­ing brood of chil­dren and pets. ‘We’d out­grown our pre­vi­ous home nearby and were look­ing for a prop­erty with a gar­den level with the liv­ing ar­eas,’ ex­plains Rus­sell. ‘We knew it was a nigh im­pos­si­ble task given the steep ty­pog­ra­phy of the area and the de­mand for city homes with this kind of space, but Tracy and I are noth­ing if not sin­gle-minded so we set our­selves the task of find­ing some­thing that we could cre­ate to suit our needs.’ Al­though they spend their days in cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­ments and court­rooms, Rus­sell and Tracy are both cre­atives as well, and take plea­sure in gar­den­ing, cooking, dec­o­rat­ing and de­sign­ing spa­ces.

And so, when this site in a prime, wind-free pocket of land be­came avail­able they saw the pos­si­bil­ity to cre­ate some­thing spec­tac­u­lar. ‘The orig­i­nal house was sit­u­ated at the back of the then largely ter­raced site, so there was lit­tle to no gar­den to speak of,’ says Rus­sell. ‘Our Eu­reka mo­ment was when we re­alised that by build­ing a new house to the front or street side of the plot, we could level the back gar­den en­tirely to be­come an ex­ten­sion of Ta­ble Moun­tain Na­tional Park.’ They en­trusted Adrian Mal­litte of ar­chi­tec­tural firm Salt + Pep­per De­sign who solved the com­plex­i­ties of the site while per­fect­ing the re­la­tion­ship of the house to the moun­tain.

To this end, the 750m sq house is laid out on three lev­els. You enter via a steep drive­way, which leads into a generous en­trance hall with ac­cess to the garage and Rus­sell’s wine cellar. From there you as­cend up to the bed­room level com­pris­ing five en-suite bed­rooms and a play­room. ‘The bed­room level is quiet, cosy and shel­tered,’ says Tracy. ‘As we en­ter­tain a lot, I like that it feels pri­vate and de­tached from the rest of the house. And with our three kids plus a con­stant troupe of their friends here most days, it’s im­por­tant to have a space in which they or we can es­cape.’ In con­trast, the top floor is where all life hap­pens, with the liv­ing, din­ing and kitchen ar­eas, fam­ily TV room and Rus­sell and Tracy’s study all look­ing out onto views of the gar­den, moun­tain and city by way of large, black-framed, floor-to-ceil­ing doors and win­dows.

‘A sense of space was re­ally im­por­tant in the liv­ing ar­eas, and wher­ever pos­si­ble we did away with walls to open things up,’ says Rus­sell. This was as much a nod to their love for the lux­ury of space, as to the needs of the chil­dren. It had to be hard-work­ing, able to ac­com­mo­date the vary­ing needs of their fam­ily, from a sound­proof study where Tracy and Rus­sell can work to room for the kids to ride their scoot­ers and skate­boards in­side if they need to. ‘We’re not pre­cious about walls and floors,’ says Tracy. ‘The house is not a showroom but in­stead a can­vas for our life.’

With both Rus­sell and Tracy pas­sion­ate en­ter­tain­ers, the de­sign and lay­out of the kitchen space was a sacro­sanct process, too. ‘We’re both ter­ri­to­rial cooks, so the de­sign needed to ac­com­mo­date the dif­fer­ent ways in which we like to oc­cupy the space,’ says Rus­sell with a grin. ‘While some cou­ples ne­go­ti­ate around sep­a­rate beds and du­vets, ours was around sep­a­rate ovens,’ quips Tracy, in ref­er­ence to Rus­sell’s pen­chant for roast­ing meat in the oven for up to eight hours. Both vo­ra­cious cook­book readers, too, the cou­ple ad­mit to most week­ends feel­ing like the set of Masterchef as they cook up a va­ri­ety of dishes. Other con­sid­er­a­tions were a large scullery (‘Rus­sell’s use of beer and wine glasses for a nor­mal Sun­day lunch could put a wed­ding to shame’), three fridges (two for wine and beer and one for fresh pro­duce) and an ex­tra-large pantry to ac­com­mo­date their store cup­board staples.

The way they like to live is what gives their home grav­i­tas, not to men­tion their in­cred­i­ble col­lec­tion of art, ob­jets, fur­ni­ture and per­sonal treasures that suc­ceed in com­ple­ment­ing rather than com­pet­ing with the mon­u­men­tal spa­ces of the ar­chi­tec­ture and the mag­nif­i­cent nat­u­ral set­ting. Tracy cred­its her friend and in­te­rior de­signer Lynne Whit­field as the al­chemist who brought their dis­parate tastes and per­son­al­i­ties to­gether. ‘Lynne’s a mas­ter of re­laxed liv­ing,’ says Tracy. ‘Ev­ery­thing she does is about mak­ing the mo­ment more en­joy­able and, so in terms of plan­ning the decor, we worked to­gether to pre-empt the ways in which we wanted to in­habit our home.’ With this kind of scru­tiny, it’s no won­der the house is the re­laxed, or­gan­ised and cre­ative haven they craved.

Check out the cou­ple’s ar­chi­tect at saltand­pep­per.co.za. Find their in­te­rior de­signer at lynne@field­de­sign.stu­dio. For more info about the builder, call Arnold Meir­ing Projects on 021 422 1118.

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