home, houses

Higher Calling: An Elegant Home in Tamboerskloof

Situated up on the mountainside in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town, this boldly elegant four-storey home is the epitome of elevated style.
Karl Rogers

'Jaw-dropping’ is an adjective perhaps too often bandied about by writers, who, with a swift series of taps to the keyboard, will generously attribute the reaction to just about anything. It’s the kind of hyperbole employed to bring a sense of lyricality (or ‘clickability’) to writing, so when it’s used to describe something genuinely remarkable, the term no longer lands with just the right amount of oomph. That’s until you set foot in this summer retreat in Cape Town, a perch at the top of Tamboerskloof that offers views so indulgent and luscious, ‘jaw-dropping’ doesn’t quite seem to do it justice. Spread over four lavish yet restrained storeys, this home lends itself to the slackening of the mandible in every way, with pockets of design so artfully curated that tangible feeling is imbued through colour, pattern, texture – and a 180-degree panorama of the entire City Bowl. 

‘The property’s location within this area is perfect and,  architecturally, it really appealed to me,’ says the homeowner, who spends his time between his home base, Sweden, and this elegant bolthole. ‘The views are spectacular and it has a real sense of place wherever you are in the house.’ It’s no wonder that this building, tucked away in one of the quietest roads in Tamboerskloof, appealed to his penchant for the contemporary. Designed by Greg Wright Architects, the sequence of three squat cubes that make up the top stories are craftily engineered to maximise outlook onto the harbour and the city. 

‘This house is all about the landscape and the vistas,’ agrees Dewald Prinsloo from Ebony/Curated, who, along with Leonard de Villiers, took the lead on the interiors for this project. Partners at the gallery and design studio based in Cape Town and Franschhoek, Prinsloo and De Villiers, along with cofounder Marc Stanes, conceptualise homes that incorporate modern design and art seamlessly – and for the owner, location was key. ‘We didn’t want to overpower that with the decorating,’ De Villiers notes. 

While the scheme works well to reflect and complement its setting, it also has some showstopping pieces – like the A lamp by local lighting specialists Woltemade and the Simplicity chaise in Nguni hide by architect and designer Haldane Martin – that in another setting might steal away from the view, but here remain decidedly subtle. 

For the homeowner, who gave Prinsloo and De Villiers a fair amount of creative freedom on the project, a pivotal concern was that the design remain sophisticated. ‘I wanted a modern yet comfortable look and feel. It needed to be fuss-free and easy, yet warm and inviting at the same time,’ he says. That ambience is evident in every nook of the home, from the street-level work zone (in husky notes of chocolate, brass and leather) to the guest bedrooms, each carefully outfitted in earthy hues such as burnt umber and mustard.  

For architecture buffs, the third floor is perhaps the most eye-popping area of them all. All one narrow, rectangular concrete cube that slices between the top-floor ‘private’ zone and the downstairs area, this space is ideal for entertaining, with a sizeable kitchen, dining space and, right at the end and floating above the city, the living area, where hues of pistachio and champagne are reflected in the generous vista of nature outside. It’s a scheme that subconsciously resonates with the outdoors, picking up on the Cape’s botanical palette.

Its strong linear qualities are complemented by Prinsloo and De Villiers’ use of pattern and texture, which softens the space while creating corners of interest. ‘Even details like pleats on the A lamp and the sides of the chairs are enhancers – soft lines that play against the hard concrete structure,’ says Prinsloo. 

Any home put together by Ebony/Curated is going to have a local feel – this is the cornerstone of the ethos at its studio, which showcases contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. On the walls of the house you will find pieces by Mark Rautenbach and Richard Smith. ‘I also wanted to incorporate as much local design as possible,’ says the owner of his initial brief. Items by acclaimed South African furniture specialists such as James Mudge, John Vogel and David Krynauw are recognisable throughout, and are cleverly combined with custom creations and new releases from Ebony/Curated. 

‘The deck on this level has the best views,’ he says, speaking of the top floor, which must surely enjoy one of the most spectacular sunset outlooks in the city. Surveying the landscape from the main bedroom up here – a space so classy that it could be a penthouse hotel suite in New York – De Villiers sums up the experience in the same kind of quietly restrained way that it has been designed: ‘It’s quite remarkable, isn’t it?’