When it comes to dreams of the great South African summer and its promise of holidays – the hours of sunshine and balmy nights, the freedom that comes with bare sandy feet – there are few who don’t look to the idyll of the beach house as representing all we love about it. A little spot of your own on the ocean’s edge is about as close to paradise as it gets for most.
Of course, there are beach houses and beach houses. A rustic shack with the most rudimentary comforts might be a king’s ransom for some; others go for something a touch more designery, a home from home down to the last detail. This pristine whitewashed house on a private estate near the West Coast town of Langebaan, an hour and a half drive from Cape Town, manages to reconcile both versions with consummate ease: a vision of chilled-out coastal living and the sort of considered high chic that comes from an expert eye. This is a beach house you’d frankly die to be holed-up in for a few weeks, sunny or not.
It’s no wonder, considering this is a recent project of interior design virtuoso Sumari Krige, whose store, La Grange Interiors, has put its distinctive stamp on homes across the country, not to mention a coterie of exclusive lodges, and boutique hotels such as AtholPlace in Johannesburg. Sumari took to this house with her customary zeal, guiding her clients through an extensive renovation and then giving it a decorating once-over for that perfectly, effortlessly, lived-in effect. ‘It’s an old house,’ says Sumari of the voluminous space, which sleeps an impressively sociable 16, exactly what you want from a holiday home. ‘We had to gut it almost entirely in order to work with it.’ Previous owners had added on to the structure, necessitating Sumari’s approach of taking it back to basics. Worn-out wooden doors and window frames were replaced, as were all the floors – now a stylish washed oak that’s barefoot-friendly, while also setting the tone for the soft neutral palette used throughout. ‘We painted everything white and grey to make the ceilings seem higher and add to the sense of space,’ she says.
The solid, squarish three-storey home is typically Greek island-esque in stature and style, down to the blue shutters visible from the exterior. ‘Everyone thinks so much effort went into it, but actually it’s really plain and simple,’ Sumari adds with a laugh, noting that the project did take a brisk four months to complete – just in time for the house’s owners to move in for their December holidays. The family tends to live mostly on the middle section, which includes sleeping quarters as well as an expansive kitchen with an open hearth and a dining area, leaving plenty of room for visitors – there are two guest suites on the ground floor, with another on the third floor, complete with its own kitchen. ‘The house is big enough for everyone to have their own space,’ says Sumari.
She’s done it up in her signature La Grange style, using neutral colours (‘you never get tired of them’) alongside shades of greens and blues she’s picked up from the surrounds. Furniture pieces mix timber, rattan and a touch of industrial, and the overall effect is casually elegant and, most importantly, supremely comfortable.
One of the house’s best features is the massive deck on the upper level, leading off a formal lounge via folding doors. It’s where everyone gathers when they’re not at the beach, surfing or canoeing in the brilliant blue water, or taking long strolls on the shore. The sheltered deck – protected from both the intense rays of the sun and the wind – is where much of the entertaining happens, too, with a large braai and a 16-seater dining table. Sunsets are a daily highlight thanks to the uninterrupted views. ‘It sets right in front of you, over the mouth of the lagoon,’ says Sumari. Who’d ever want to leave?
Q&A WITH SUMARI KRIGE
How would you describe your style? Classic with a hint of the contemporary… old mixed with new, uncomplicated, laid-back layering with loads of texture, in a neutral palette.
What inspires you? Fearless design. Your favourite piece of design advice? ‘Evolve with it.’
Top tips for decorating a beach house? Keep it simple and practical: it needs to be a space that you are not precious about. However, once you walk into a house, you need to know who lives there. The colour palette you’re loving right now? Stones, greys, beach-pebble tones.
Three summer essentials? SPF30 sunscreen, larger-than-life beach towels and frosted-glass tealights. What could you never live without? My family, and travel.
What do you love most about summer? Sunshine, the beach, and cocktail hours during holiday time. The best way to spend holiday down-time? Always with my kids. As much time spent outdoors or at the beach, but it’s also great if you get the chance to break up a beach holiday with a skiing holiday in between.
Your most inspiring places? Amsterdam, Antwerp and Shanghai.
Favourite shops and local dining spots? La Grange Interiors, O.live for quirky accessories, Evolution Product, and The Test Kitchen in Cape Town’s Woodstock for dining.
NOTES ON INTERIOR IMAGES
This whitewashed retreat near Langebaan in the Western Cape exemplifies laid-back summer holiday living. Interior designer Sumari Krige of La Grange Interiors gave it her signature look of comfortable elegance. On the expansive deck, rattan furniture from the Kubu range at La Grange Interiors (lagrangeinteriors.co.za) picks up on the lines of the reed pergola. The scatters are upholstered in Wrangler linen from Halogen International (halogen.co.za).
The huge, open kitchen, which flows onto the dining area, features sleek and compact storage space and plenty of working surfaces – as well as a counter to perch at. Floating shelves are practical and allow for the considered collection of Anthony Shapiro ceramic crockery, and wine glasses from the Country range at La Grange Interiors to be displayed. OPPOSITE The dining area is dominated by the raw-iron kitchen unit, painted black, also from La Grange Interiors, as are the table in raw teak and the custom-designed white chairs.
Sumari Krige; the TV room off the kitchen echoes the chic, low-maintenance style of the house, with a comfortable Barcelo chair from La Grange Interiors; in one of the children’s bedrooms, the colours of the sea are picked up in the bed linens (find similar at Biggie Best, biggiebest.com). The versatile anglepoise-style light is also from La Grange. The capacious master bathroom; the Picnic chair is from La Grange Interiors, and the basins from Classic Trading (classictrading.net).