Or­ganic Chem­istry

Décor - - Contents - Writ­ers Ju­lia Free­man­tle/Bureaux and Mal­lory Abreu pho­tog­ra­pher War­ren Heath/Bureaux stylist Sven Al­berd­ing/Bureaux

Rus­tic and re­fined el­e­ments ca­su­ally hang out in a South African va­ca­tion home, mak­ing it easy to re­lax.

A coastal home dec­o­rated by two close friends gains a re­fresh­ingly cliché-free feel through a craft-in­spired aes­thetic,

one-off finds, and col­or­ful art­work.

This photo: Geared en­tirely around en­ter­tain­ing, the pool pa­tio is set up for so­cial­iz­ing, eat­ing, and loung­ing. Op­po­site: An all-white en­ve­lope gives the house a feel­ing of fresh­ness and serves as the per­fect foil for nat­u­ral tex­tures, such as those re­flected by a wood sculp­ture and the fur­nish­ings in the great-room.

A va­ca­tion 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 re­quires 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.

Two long­time friends, de­signer Kim Stephen and owner Anthea New­bury, set out on what would be­come a two-year ad­ven­ture, trav­el­ing to­gether and pick­ing up pieces that fit their vi­sion or­gan­i­cally as they found them. Anthea and her hus­band, An­ton, knew they wanted a home that felt “boho and eclec­tic,” and they wanted to steer clear of coastal clichés. “We did not want a typ­i­cal ‘beach house’—you know, blue and white with white­washed wood,” Anthea says. “We wanted to avoid any­thing shabby chic, and yet we also didn’t want ul­tra modern or set decor, but rather an al­most un­planned, thrown-to­gether feel.”

Loosely in­spired by des­ti­na­tions like the Mediter­ranean in gen­eral and Ibiza in par­tic­u­lar, the idea was to fill spa­ces with in­ter­est­ing finds and beau­ti­ful art­work, set against the back­drop of a strong white and nat­u­ral pal­ette. But the ques­tion of color, and how much should be used, re­quired a bit of com­pro­mise. “I like a lot of it, my hus­band less so, so we had to find a happy medium,” Anthea says. Stephen is known for her jewel-box use of color, so among the three of them, a clever and demo­cratic ap­proach was found: color through art.

“One of our great­est pas­sions is col­lect­ing art,” Anthea says. And though the selections might ap­pear un­ex­pected, the pieces, which range from oils to in­stal­la­tions, were care­fully cu­rated to en­hance each space—ei­ther by adding color or by throw­ing a room a lit­tle off bal­ance.

Nat­u­ral tex­tures tem­per the vivid hues, and with the gar­den planned as an ex­ten­sion of the beach dune, those tex­tures were in­evitable in or­der to cre­ate a home com­fort­able in its sur­round­ings. Wood, raf­fia, and bas­ketry fea­ture promi­nently. Stephen 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 brief.

“We were each other’s coun­ter­points—I some­times tem­pered Anthea’s wilder ideas but she also stretched my cre­ativ­ity, as this house is non­con­formist in many ways,”

Stephen says. Her ap­proach that their co­coon­ing base needs to bal­ance high drama with sooth­ing whites was in sync with the fam­ily’s need for easy el­e­gance—play­ful, but per­fectly ap­pointed.

“We strove for com­fort with­out com­pro­mis­ing on style.”



“I love the jux­ta­po­si­tion of so­phis­ti­ca­tion and folly.”




This photo: Soft tex­tures in shades of white make this guest suite an ideal sum­mer es­cape. Op­po­site left: Furry throws add tex­tu­ral in­ter­est to easy-breezy white slip­cov­ered seat­ing and white linens in a guest suite. “In my projects, you’ll al­ways find play­ful el­e­ments in el­e­gant sur­round­ings,” Stephen says. “Fun is one of the core as­pects of this house—and one that makes it in­cred­i­bly unique.” Op­po­site right: With white walls, floors, and ceil­ings, this bath has an ethe­real qual­ity that’s grounded sim­ply by a wood slid­ing shut­ter door and a wood towel lad­der.

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