Historical loft cottages in Tamboerskloof
This modern loft conversion and new-build is a clever addition to an original Sir Herbert Baker stone homestead in Tamboerskloof.
Stylist and design consultant Doreen de Waal – along with her husband Meyer – has lived in and lovingly restored her historic villa in the heart of Cape Town’s City Bowl for several decades, raising a family of three while contributing to style bibles including Elle Decoration. Though still passionate about interiors, Doreen’s professional focus has morphed from the glossy pages of magazines to a portfolio of Cape Town cottages and loft apartments that she has designed and decorated.
Loft-y Holiday Homes
Available to discerning travellers for short or extended holiday and work trips, three of these – including this space, the most recent to be completed – are set on the grounds of the family residence: a homestead dating to the late 1800s that was originally the rectory for the Anglican church next door.
While each of the compact cottages has its own distinctive design signature, they are connected by the hallmarks of Doreen’s personal aesthetic: minimal clutter, pops of bright colour, an abundance of natural light, a focus on functionality and always a sense of playfulness and personality.
The birth of this cottage was prompted by, of all things, a leaking roof. As Doreen explains it, ‘our en-suite bathroom ceiling had some water damage. When we climbed up to inspect the problem, we realised there was the potential to build a structure here that could harness the views of Table Mountain, which are incredible.’ Doreen called in the assistance of architect Mike Scurr of Rennie Scurr Adendorff, a practice specialising in the conservation and restoration of historic buildings. Together with Doreen, he conceptualised what she calls a ‘modern intervention into an old building. I felt strongly that the cottage had to have a specific character very different from the existing house’.
Two primary architectural elements intersect effectively to give the habitat its contemporary allure – a glass facade of generous proportions taking the form of a transparent cube, and an open-truss ceiling with a sharply pitched roof in the main living area as well as in the bedroom, conveying the atmosphere of an urban loft.
Big Ideas for Small Spaces
Like the other two cottages, this is an all-in-one habitat that belies its compact footprint thanks to Doreen’s savvy for solving spatial and privacy issues. The open-plan interior runs from a living and dining zone to a galley-style kitchen, while the bedroom, along with a bath, is set just off the sitting area. A prefab cube – painted green – provides a graphic architectural interjection in the living area and cleverly conceals a shower and toilet. The glass façade invites in an abundance of natural light and provides a meditation on the wonders of the nearby mountain. A bi-fold glass ‘wall’ opens onto an adjoining deck, giving the interior an elasticity and instantly extending the cottage’s dimensions.
Visual surprises and big ideas for small spaces are Doreen’s forte. So in the kitchen, you will find floating shelves for storage and a wall-mounted dish rack to conserve counter space. In the prefab bathroom cube, simple wall-mounted shelves have been installed to support the basin as well as hold towels and toiletries. In the bedroom, a bistro stool does double-duty as a bedside table, and dining chairs are light enough to migrate from indoors to out should the need arise.
Shades of Green
While the interior landscape has been kept ordered and functional, it is far from devoid of personality. Fresh shades of green, from bright emerald to zesty lime, pop against a background of crisp white and mid-tone poplar wood. Quirky touches demonstrate a breezy irreverence, such as the single leg of an up-cycled white-painted pine table on the deck that was given a lick of electric green paint, and the solitary leg of a green plastic chair coated in white.
Doreen’s raison d’être is making personal connections with people, exploring her own creativity and being surrounded by that of others. Her delightfully original villa speaks to these passions. ‘I feel blessed’, concludes Doreen, ‘that my work is also my ongoing inspiration.’
- Doreen de Waal / holiday accommodation: inawestays.co.za
- Rennie Scurr Adendorff Architects: archrsa.com
Text: Mandy Allen
Production: Sven Alberding
Photographs: Greg Cox/Bureaux.co.za