When a professional Swedish couple – he an importer-exporter, and she a trained architect – decided to decamp from their compact city apartment to a run-of-themill Cape Dutch-replica farmhouse in Franschhoek, interiors-specialist Sumari Krige of La Grange Interiors was on speed-dial. The owners, who, with their two sons, both in their late teens, were captivated by the easy outdoor lifestyle afforded by the hospitable southern climate, started by having the building stripped back to its bare essence – an empty shell they coated in bright white. Then they handed the baton over to Sumari to do what she does best: deftly combine overlapping layers of muted, natural tones, rough-hewn textures, slubby linens and confi dent, over-scaled pieces, building it all up again into an über-stylish crescendo of local art and design, while displaying a distinctive Scandi touch – all with comfort at its core. The process ‘happened organically’ says the designer, for whom the decorating process takes time, and is instinctive. ‘When it came to furniture, accessories and soft furnishings the owner knew exactly what she wanted – she has a good eye,’ comments Sumari. Together, they worked hand in hand to achieve the vision established at the storyboard phase – which saw both teams coming together and presenting their own swatches and magazine cuttings of how to convey the desired mood, tone and texture.
COMFORT ABOVE ALL ‘The owners were sold on the idea of a sun-drenched South African home that exuded comfort,’ says Sumari. ‘They wanted it to feel inviting and relaxed; and a sense of space was important to them.’ To engender this desired spirit of casual relaxation within their four walls, a must on their list of priorities was the creation of the aptly titled ‘mud room’, where earth-splattered Wellington boots and other outdoor paraphernalia gets cast aside on the way back in from communing with nature – an activity which is often done accompanied by the two energetic family dogs. The open-plan lounge area, which some designers might have been tempted to divide into two discrete zones – formal and informal sitting areas, perhaps – has been boldly kept as one, with the impressive pièce de résistance an imposing mirror-clad fireplace at one end. Nearby, an L-shaped sofa and sumptuous cushions, all dressed in shades of grey linen, manifest a laid-back attitude among both the hosts and European visitors over from the North.
CONTEMPORARY CLASSIC The covered, screed-fl oored patio area is the house’s gentle nod to colonial style, designed as a haven of coolth in summer, and to offer that much-needed connection to nature in the darker, wetter months. But traditional and stuffy this home is not – it is distinctly modern and sleekly sophisticated. In the eat-in kitchen, a striped monochrome kilim and jet-black-painted chairs offset the natural warmth of custom-created oak sideboards and cabinetry – topped off with an unmistakably industrial edge. The family lives in the kitchen, says Sumari. True to their Scandi roots, here they are especially mindful of simplicity and clever storage solutions, and integrated appliances abound – clutterfree, yet far from cold.
SOUTH AFRICA MEETS SCANDINAVIA The owners’ fi rst requests were twofold: one, a 100-per-cent linen fabric-covered oak-framed turned bench in the kitchen – a feature found in most Swedish homes, which Sumari created by adapting a bench purpose-built for a lounge setting. The second was South African art and sculpture, and furniture by local designers. Sumari relished this opportunity to allow South African stars to shine, and set about curating the seeds of an inspired collection that will grow as the family digs deep roots here. Decor accessories tending to the utilitarian are a further nod to simplistic Scandi style: wire baskets, geometric pattern and gleaming light fi ttings – balanced with African hand-carved wooden bowls, recurrent fynbos motifs and ikat prints to keep the North-South balance.