WORDS Amelia Brown PRODUCTION Sumien Brink PHOTOS Henrique Wilding
A secluded Hout Bay home gets a contemporary transformation when the architect, furniture designer and client’s visions align.
Much like the winding, tree-lined road you travel up to reach this private Atlantic Seaboard home in a quiet cul-de-sac, your access into the property itself is gradual. Leaving the garden to come indoors happens gently, offering glimpses of the interior as you follow the meandering path hugged by rocks and trailing indigenous plants to the front door and glass-box entrance hall. Step inside and you still remain connected to the garden.
From the hallway, a partition wall conceals the next layer. Look left, and glimpse a passage and stairs descending; look right, and there is the garden again, framed in a floor-to-ceiling window.
Behind the partition wall, the kitchen, dining room, lounge and outside entertainment area unfold. You may be inside now, but the lightness created by the all-white double-volume space brings the landscape inside. Even here, in the centre of the house, the transition from inside to outside is seamless.
The flow is no accident. For the renovation, architect Bert Pepler’s challenge was not only to modernise and update a house that had been built almost three decades before, but also to reconnect its core features: to develop the entrance; reimagine the master bedroom at the end of the passage; integrate the separate kitchen, living and entertainment areas; and make more of the incredible surrounding landscape and rambling garden.
“Cosmetically, the brief to bring the house into the 21st century meant removing elements that dated the house,” says Bert. “On a larger scale, the challenge was to extend, enlarge and open up the living areas to the beautiful view and to create a magnificent outdoor space that celebrates it.” One could argue that the success of the transformation lies in the elements that unify, the most significant being the shutters used on every sliding patio door and window. They are both aesthetically and practically integral to the design, successfully tying the exterior elevations together and updating the overall composition. “They provide security, shade and privacy, and define and enclose the outdoor entertainment room off the lounge – a covered terrace that floats above the fynbos garden,” says Bert. When they’re closed you can still glimpse the landscape beyond, and the strips of green and linear shadows add texture.
The white exposed timber beams of the living area are echoed in the master bedroom with its matching lofty triangular window. The L-shapes of the patio and outdoor benches are mirrored in the L-shaped glass window seat in the master bedroom, which looks out over the bay. Once again, whether the bedroom is enclosed by the shutters or opened to connect to the outdoors, the landscape is a fundamental element.
“The restraint in the selection of materials, textures, artworks and furniture combined with the aspect and position of the house make it exceptional,” says furniture designer Piers Mansfield-Scaddan, who collaborated with the client on the interiors. “Everything in the house is bespoke. The client has an incredible eye, and we share a fascination with British architect John Pawson for his inherent simplicity and uncomplicated design, so that was the starting point for the conversation.”
The brief was for a clutter-free, simple home. This has been achieved by means of a cold-white backdrop that accents a restrained palette and subtle textures. It allows each bespoke piece to stand out and not compete with one another.
The understated furnishings match the structural geometry of features like the linear shutters, L-shaped deck and rectangular rim-flow pool. As a result the house is the perfect counterpoint to the lush natural landscape that surrounds and permeates it.