Now their children have moved out, a family home is reimagined in line with its owners’ quieter life.
TEXT TRACY LYNN CHEMALY PHOTOGRAPHS ELSA YOUNG
Gustav and Ida Bester had been living in their Stellenbosch home for over 20 years. However, when their children grew up and moved out, they knew it was time for a change. Rather than upping and leaving from a property they loved for its natural beauty and mountain views, they demolished the house and started from scratch, calling on the expertise of Henk Lourens and Tina Gallagher of Gallagher Lourens Architects to turn what had been a rather cold house with disjointed gardens into a two-bedroom home filled with natural light, big open spaces and a constant connection to its enviable surroundings.
‘The house is designed according to our lifestyle,’ explains Ida, a photographer of newborn babies and families, who had a state-of-the-art photography studio incorporated into the design. ‘I work and live here, so it needed to have a certain tranquillity about it,’ she says, pointing to the neutrality of the furniture and accessories by interior designer Sumari Krige of La Grange Interiors.
With enormous glass windows and doors that encompass a double-volume space, the expansive living area allows sunlight to enter at all times of the day. ‘This distributes light into the whole house,’ says Henk of the central axis that leads onto the garden on one side and the swimming pool courtyard on the other, allowing nature to envelop the building. ‘The bridge offers an even better view,’ Ida says, pointing to the overhead, indoor structure that connects two stairways, each leading to an opposite end of the home, with one also opening up onto a study perched over the living area. ‘Walking on that bridge gives you the feeling of almost walking outside, bathed in light,’ she says. ‘It also provides a better view of the mountains,’ says Tina. This lookout point makes one equally appreciative of the clever combination of materials found on floors, shutters, ceilings, walls and outside fences. ‘Ida is a bit of a traditionalist,’ Henk explains. ‘So we used klompie bricks, plaster, simple larch timber, river stones, broken boulders and raw concrete, creating a textured Cape palette.’ Not wanting to detract attention from this refined colour wheel, Sumari was happy to comply with Ida’s brief to veer away from colourful decor, and to introduce her own palette of wool, ceramic, wallpaper, fabric and timber in greys, off-whites, sandy creams and metallics. ‘I’ve always loved organic, light, natural, textured pieces,’ says Ida. Where colour does appear – in a cabinet, custom-built to zigzag under a staircase and sprayed in Plascon’s ‘Underground’ – it makes a statement.
In the master bedroom, where three walls are dressed in curtains, Sumari has avoided monotonous draping. ‘Using one bold pattern or plain sheer fabric would have been too much, and I didn’t want repetition, so I combined three different sheer fabrics with different patterns on them, with one of these forming an overlay in some places,’ she explains of her subtle approach to adding visual interest that translates into warm homeliness. Another nod to traditional architecture lies in the thick wall of bagged brickwork that runs the length of the home, indicating the main circulation route. Starting at the outside entryway, it passes the front door and makes its way to the living room at the far end, only breaking where it opens up to the pool deck.
The only part of the original build that stayed was the old Tipuana tree and the fire pit underneath it. ‘It’s now cleverly framed by double-volume windows,’ says Ida. ‘It’s like we’re sitting under our tree, enjoying nature continuously.
La Grange Interiors www.lagrangeinteriors.co.za
Gallagher Lourens Architects www.gallagherlourens.co.za