Combining a punchy palette with clean architectural lines, this family home is a classic study in the power of contrasts.
The best preparation for stepping over the threshold of this gloriously colourful home in Bishopscourt, Cape Town, is a quick browse of the gorgeous Pinterest boards created by its interior designer, Kim Stephen. They sing with vibrant colour – and yet the bursts of brightness are also framed within the crisp, clean lines of Stephen’s classic-yet-contemporary design ethos.
As on Pinterest, so it is in this home, which Stephen redecorated for a young family during a major renovation three-and-a-half years ago. While there is a sense of graceful classicism that includes a confident use of black and white, there is also that bold colour, which, combined with a number of other strongly individual choices, gives the scheme a dynamic energy.
The bright orange exterior of the front door, for example, opens onto a supremely elegant hallway and stairwell that features poured terrazzo floors and a textured charcoal wallpaper, as well as a tall potted palm tree and a number of artworks, including an eye-catching series of brightly coloured silkscreens by South African artist Stephanie Watson.
Before the house was renovated, it was a simple, rustic A-frame – difficult to imagine now, given that its architecture has a classically elegant look that Stephen describes as ‘Georgian lines with modern edges’. Stephen cleverly uses colour to balance architectural elements in her spaces. A good example of this is the dark green colour of paint she chose for the built-in kitchen cabinets in this house – an unusual selection that perfectly offsets the visual power of the charcoal-framed, wood-burning fireplace at the other end of the open-plan living-dining-kitchen space.
This open-plan area is the everyday heart of the house and it’s made even more family-friendly by the colourful kids’ play area situated just off the kitchen space. While prepping a meal, it’s now easy for the owners to supervise homework or just keep a quiet eye on what their children are up to.
Beyond the kids’ area is a beautiful indoor-outdoor living space that was added to the house during the renovation. Reminiscent of the extensive patios and terraces that are in widespread use in Durban and Joburg but are still relatively new to Cape Town houses, this ‘outdoor room’ can be closed up during more inclement weather or completely opened to the elements during the city’s long, hot summers.
The patio area adjoins the garden and an inviting square swimming pool, as well as a marvellous wooden jungle gym for the kids, featuring a slide that runs directly into the pool. The views here are spectacular. An uninterrupted vista of the side of Table Mountain above Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, it’s a typically Bishopscourt view and gives the entire property a feeling of expansiveness and freedom. The design of the garden was also part of Stephen’s brief and so it also reflects her key style: it again combines classicism with a touch of quirk.
One of Stephen’s most interesting design choices in this house has been to include almost no built-in furniture. Instead, she uses cupboards, storage units and cabinets that are all individual – and mostly custom-made – pieces. One of the loveliest examples in the house is the drinks cabinet in the dining area. Covered with a shagreen-textured vinyl decorated with a circular nailhead pattern, it’s filled with beautiful glassware, as well as all the essentials for everything from cocktails to post-dinner digestifs.
Kim also methodically tracked down all sorts of items she envisioned as perfect for this house, ranging from those old terrazzo-tile presses to classic wallpapers and from carefully sourced artworks to custom-made furniture. The combination of such a thoughtful approach with an innate sense of colour that creates so much brio might be remarkable, but that just adds to the pleasure its end result affords.
01 In the open-plan living-dining-kitchen area, interior designer Kim Stephen used bright colours – but always ‘balanced and grounded’ by classic black and white. The deep-buttoned and unusually blue Chesterfield couch is topped with scatter cushions in a black-and-white animal print and Pierre Frey’s Arty fabric as well as a once-off printed cushion featuring a beach scene, which was discovered in a store down a little side street during a holiday in Saint-Tropez.
02 A layered tablescape in the living room. The black Chippendale-style side table was unearthed in a junk shop and resprayed in high-gloss black, with the blue drop-effect ceramic vase found at the Rondebosch Potters Market, which takes place twice a year and features the work of potters and ceramicists from all over the Western Cape. The black and brass storage box is from Pezula Interiors in Cape Town.
03 The standout item of furniture in the dining area is this gorgeous freestanding drinks cabinet, which is covered with a shagreen-textured vinyl and filled with beautiful glassware and cocktails essentials. It was custom-made – down to the brass nailhead details – to interior decorator Kim Stephen’s design by Moorgas & Sons.
04 The homeowner’s daughter at play in the elegant entrance hall and stairwell. Key decor elements in this space include textured grey wallpaper – Textures Végétales by the French wallpaper manufacturer Élitis – as well as custom-poured terrazzo floors, a tall potted palm tree and large-scale floral-print curtains in Parfum d’Ete fabric by Manuel Canovas.
05 In the guest suite, the bathroom leads out onto a private courtyard. The custom-made terrazzo floors are based on the design used at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. The black-and-white bath and standing towel rail are both from Victorian Bathrooms.
06 The main bedroom has a relatively muted colour palette, with the bright tones of the recently acquired artwork adding a few more vibrant tones. The bed was custom-made by Moorgas & Sons to a design by interior decorator Kim Stephen and the wooden bedside tables are from Block & Chisel.
07 A perfectly petite home office is situated on the first floor of the house. It features Saraille – a lovely ombre wallpaper by Designers Guild in ‘Grass’ – on the walls and a charming white chair that is an upcycled find from a Stellenbosch junk store.
08 In the homeowners’ son’s room, the decor is bold and graphic with lots of black and white, punctuated by bright red accents including these scatter cushions, which are made up in Fougere Picus fabric in Rocoto by Romo. The ‘Pow! Snork! Zap!’ pop-art cushion is from Mr Price Home.
09 At the far end of the uncovered, narrow terrace that runs along the front of the house, a teepee has been set up in which the homeowners’ young son loves to read. The terrace features four huge grey planters – just one is visible here – with flourishing lime trees in them. The child-sized Eames-style chairs are from Chair Crazy and the striped outdoor rug is from Block & Chisel.
10 The homeowners’ daughter’s bedroom is gorgeously pretty, with bold horizontal pink stripes on the walls that enlarge and open up the space. The doll’s house is Cherry Tree Hall from Le Toy Van and the artworks are a mix of finds from Monsoon in London and Cotton On in Cape Town.
Interior designer Kim Stephen relaxes in the ‘outdoor room’ or patio area, with the homeowners’ two golden retrievers, Buster and Bella, keeping her company. The space features a fireplace for braais, as well as comfortable seating for lazy weekend afternoon lounging. The rustic coffee table is from Block & Chisel, the round red custom-woven outdoor rug is from Fibre Designs and the bright yellow pots are from The Gatehouse at Mavromac. The artwork above the fireplace is from Weylandts.
Hot off the press
This beautiful home has just been sold. For more info on other properties in the area, call Christiaan Steytler (082 658 0071) or Myrna Duveen (082 443 8417) from Pam Golding Properties.
• Kim Stephen: kimstephen.com
• Pierre Frey: pierrefrey.com
• Rondebosch Potters Market: ceramics-sa-cape.co.za
• Pezula Interiors: pezulainteriors.co.za
• Moorgas & Sons: moorgasandsons.co.za
• Élitis: elitis.fr
• Manuel Canovas: designs.manuelcanovas.com
• Victorian Bathrooms: victorianbathrooms.co.za
• Block & Chisel: blockandchisel.co.za
• Designers Guild: designersguild.com
• Romo: romo.com
• Mr Price Home: mrphome.com
• Chair Crazy: chaircrazy.co.za
• Le Toy Van: letoyvan.com
• Monsoon: uk.monsoon.co.uk
• Cotton On: cottonon.com
• Fibre Designs: fibredesigns.co.za
• Mavromac: thegatehouse.co.za
• Weylandts: weylandts.co.za
• Hagemann: hagemann.de