Show House: Higher Grade
A luxe city apartment on the 19th floor is a perfect perch from which to enjoy everything Cape Town has to offer.
The idea of a city pied-à-terre is a property dream for many: a low-maintenance lock-up-and-go that serves as a haven from everyday life or offers a change of pace. This sort of space has different design requirements to a permanent home – convenience, low maintenance and a sense of escape are key attributes for setting the right tone in a part-time bolthole.
For this chic compact apartment created for a Somerset West-based family, designer and PR maven Jean-Pierre (J-P) de la Chaumette conceived a scheme that would cater to a diverse set of needs. The space needed to be versatile: a family-friendly home, a safe space from which the adults could enjoy city life, and an apartment to let when not in use.
“The focus was on creating a lock-up-and-go – something unfussy, comfortable and contemporary,” says J-P of the direction he took when putting together the look and feel of the interior. “The clients’ primary home has a classic style, so they were quite insistent that the city pad should have a more current aesthetic.”
Situated on the 19th floor of the newly refurbished Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence in the Cape Town city centre, the apartment has all the benefits of hotel living, such as access to concierge services, spa, pool, restaurant, and the convenience of cleaning and maintenance services on site. As such it lends itself perfectly to its secondary purpose as a lettable property when the owners are not using it, and J-P considered how guests as well as the family would experience the space. “I always lean more towards the personal. And guests usually prefer quirk to cookie-cutter anyway. That said, we did keep the palette relatively neutral – nothing too crazy. It’s laid-back, but considered and uncluttered.” Overall, comfort was always the key objective, and the space needed to feel homely.
Texture was instrumental in achieving this feeling. “I especially focused on woven, embroidered and beaded fabrics,” he says. Sheep and cow skins, leather and riempie, timber and reflective brass accents were used in tandem to create depth without chaos.
Creating interest through neutral tones and texture was also part of the strategy to enhance the sense of space in the apartment, while ensuring interest. Because, apart from needing to create a design that would satisfy multiple needs, J-P was also working with a fairly compact floor plan, and so also needed to factor in maximising the space. The views from every window of the apartment are magnificent, and J-P used them to his advantage by matching the floor-to-ceiling curtains to the walls so the views became a part of the interior, and thus make it feel bigger. Scale was used to great effect, with pieces that offered extra storage potential given priority. “Sometimes using larger items in a smaller space actually assists with creating a sense of grandeur,” says J-P. “I used oversize pieces here and there, including the chandelier above the dining table and the fourposter in the main bedroom. You have to be clever with the way you arrange furniture in a small space.”
All of this comes together in a compact and layered but calming space with a cool cosmopolitan sensibility. “The global feel wasn’t deliberate, but I do think Cape Town has shifted into becoming a ‘world city’,” says J-P. “It feels increasingly international, so perhaps we are all absorbing that sensibility.”
TEXT Julia Freemantle PHOTOGRAPHS Karl Rogers