Cape Town Penthouse

PHOTOS Micky Hoyle PRODUCTION Sumien Brink WORDS Ami Kapilevich


The buy-to-rent market in Cape Town is booming. And when the buyer is one of South Africa’s most accomplished interior design and decor personalities, the tenant is in for a treat.

Kim Smith is a very busy woman. In 2017 this director of Weylandts travelled to China, Germany, Italy, Singapore, India and Indonesia. In June she renovated the Chefs Warehouse restaurant at Maison Estate in Franschhoek, and in November Weylandts launched its first standalone Homestore (“70% home ware, 30% furniture”) in Sandton City.

“So most of this was done via WhatsApp,” she jokes as we enter her newly renovated penthouse apartment in Manhattan Place on the corner of Bree and Dorp streets, overlooking the Cape Town nightlife district. It’s the middle of the day but the apartment is dark.

Exposed black piping and steel girders cut industrial lines across grey walls and ceilings. Black honed-granite countertops complement the glossy black Smeg appliances in the kitchen. A ceiling fan makes the strands of a black shaggy rug on the couch stand on end.

“It used to be all white,” says Kim, “but I wanted something moodier and edgier. It is, after all, a nightlife spot. But it also creates a cocoon high up above the city. I love the fact that you can hear the muezzins from the mosques nearby. And the challenge was to make it look lived in – or at least not unlived in.”

It’s a challenge cleverly met. The books on the shelves – decor, travel, photography – are not all brand-new. The framed blueprint of an engine’s parts was found in a desk drawer at an old factory in Johannesburg. And there are just enough ornaments and flourishes to make you feel like you’re crashing in the pad of a guitarist for some Afro-grunge band that, 10 years from now, will take the world by storm.

Of course, every item is from Weylandts, from the skulls on the wall to the sand papered leather Marconi sofa with exposed seams. But the apartment is a deliberate and diametric opposite to Kim’s family home in Franschhoek, which is an airy, minimal white space that evokes the impression of an art gallery in a farmhouse.

“It’s a creative release,” says Kim. “I’m addicted to putting my spin on places. I treat every project as if I’m going to occupy the space. The knives are sharp, the pans are good quality, the bed is comfortable. I always focus on a monochromatic palette, and celebrate textures and materiality.” Particularly striking are the light fittings, each cluster a variation on the same industrial theme. They extend the lines drawn by the water sprinkler and electrical piping, and the old-fashioned filaments are as fascinating as they are functional.

“Because I travel so much, I know how important it is to have a beautiful place to return to. After all, we are shaped by our environments,” says Kim – in an environment so beautifully shaped by her.

Kim’s apartment is available to rent on airbnb.com.