Revamp House #3 - Scandi Style

Some inspired thinking took this Cape Town duplex from contained and simplistic to modern, light-filled and ideal for a young family.

Greg Cox
Storm Ross

Scandi Style | House and Leisure

The same-same facade of Jonathan and Claire De Gouveia’s home in a complex in Rosebank belies the modern-minimalist interiors beyond. As you step through the front door, light streams in from large windows that frame the small garden at the back.

An uncluttered interior, smooth lines and muted palette belie the fact that this is a family home, inhabited by a two- and five-year old. So, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that Claire is an interior designer by profession, working independently, but also collaborating with The Home Studio in Cape Town. 


The double-storey house previously belonged to Jonathan’s parents, before changing hands when the couple got married. ‘When we first moved in, the place was very basic and quite dated. It was livable, though, so we just spruced it up with some paint and put in new floors,’ Claire explains. ‘My parents-in-law used this as a base for holidays, so it was never really a permanent living space and it definitely required some TLC. We knew we’d want to change the place, but initially we weren’t sure if it was going to be our “forever home”.’ 

A little while after moving in, the couple had an opportunity to work and live in Namibia, and the comfortable lock-up-and-go duplex returned to its status as a holiday home for the next three years, until they returned. ‘When we arrived back in Cape Town after our Namibian adventure, we were still uncertain as to whether we should invest in the house or look for something new,’ Claire says. ‘It is a lot smaller than the Namibian place we were living in, which we renovated extensively, too.’ 


Weighing up the pros and cons, and considering the complex’s secureness and close proximity to good schools, it made sense to rather renovate and invest in this dwelling and create some stability for them all. ‘We drew up the plans ourselves,’ says Claire. ‘We had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted – to open up the space, create a better flow, modernise the interiors, redo the outdoor areas and remove the stairs – I really hated their positioning.’

The latter, along with other hiccups, ensured that this renovation was anything but plain sailing. 

‘We assumed that we could rebuild as we wanted, and I knew that the stairs had to go… that there had to be a better way to streamline its positioning, but it wasn’t that easy,’ Claire laughs. ‘It turns out – subsequent to our knocking them down – that the way the stairs were structured initially was the only way that they could be, according to our engineers. However, after a lot of trial and error, we managed to make it work.

Scandi Style | House and LeisureScandi Style | House and Leisure

They now blend in seamlessly and are one of the biggest transformations of the entire home.’ The rules and regulations of complex living added to the complications of the renovation. ‘We had a few complaints from our neighbours, and there was a lot of red tape when it came to the exteriors. For example, we wanted white aluminium window frames, which we installed, but were later told they needed to be brown by the property management team, and we had to spray paint the windows out front!’ 

Despite the challenges, the result is exactly what the couple were after for their young family. ‘We love our new space – it has a great flow from inside to outside. The kitchen is really the heart of the home, and probably my favourite space – even though I’m not much of a cook, people always migrate to the kitchen. It’s a beautiful, convivial area, whether you’re entertaining or putting together a meal while watching the kids playing outside. Everything is light and open now.’  


While they didn’t remain within their initial budget, Claire says that they opted for quality over quantity. ‘Our intention was to downscale and to have a beautiful but simplistic home, and I believe we’ve fulfilled that.’

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