PHOTOS Jan Ras PRODUCTION Sumien Brink WORDS Bibi Slippers
When a terraced Victorian house in dire need of some TLC came into the possession of a doctor of Chinese medicine, it was lovingly restored and transformed into a space for health and healing.
On the day before the opening of The White Lotus Wellness Centre in Cape Town, owner Lulu Beyers stood on a wobbly ladder in the reception area, attaching individual spores to a Dandelion lamp from IKEA. In the midst of her dubious balancing act, she imagined the headlines in the papers should she come off said ladder: “Doctor found dead on practice floor”.
When she stepped down from the ladder, lamp assembled and still alive, she gave a sigh of relief, not only because she wasn’t dead but also because this moment represented the end of months of planning, building, renovation and decorating. “It was sometimes hard to visualise the final result, but that was when I realised it had all come together beautifully.”
It was this same active imagination that allowed her to see potential in a run-down three-level Victorian on Kloof Street when she was looking for premises to establish a one-stop wellness centre where patients could come for a variety of treatments. “When I first walked into the building, she felt like an old lady who was taking strain. She was poorly maintained and ridden with damp. The floor was in a state of neglect, the gutters were leaking and the basement level reeked from a decade of mould.”
This may not sound like the ideal space for a place of health and healing, but two nights of insomnia convinced Lulu that it was, indeed, the place she was after. “The pure energy of potential excited me. I always knew it had to be Victorian. I didn’t know where else I’d find the wonderful combination of high ceilings, wooden floors, fireplaces and sash windows. It was already loosely divided into office spaces, and I could see potential for a yoga and Pilates studio with a separate entrance on the lower level.”
Once she had acquired the building, Lulu set to work. She called in the services of Xperiencemakers as architects and project managers to help her transform the old lady into a haven of tranquillity. They assisted in optimising the layout and the restoration of the heritage elements, while Lulu took charge of all the decor and design elements. This resulted in a unique blend of traditional elements and quirky modern design.
Lulu spent a year creating Pinterest boards and scrapbooks to define exactly what she wanted the interior to look like. “It was tricky, because it is essentially a medical environment. I didn’t want the decor to be overwhelming. The design had to reflect the ethos of The White Lotus Centre, which is rooted in Eastern philosophy and emphasises the attainment of balance of all levels of being.”
To create a sense of calm, Lulu opted for a neutral backdrop of light grey, white and medium wood tones. She introduced splashes of green by bringing in indoor plants and chose yellow as an accent colour. “To me, there is no happier colour on the planet!”
The result is a harmonious blend of Victorian architecture, Scandinavian aesthetic and Eastern influences, reflecting just enough of Lulu’s personality to keep it interesting and fresh. There are no signs that the old lady is under strain. She is rejuvenated, having gotten just what the doctor of Eastern medicine ordered.
For more information, visit whitelotus.co.za.