Revamp House #5 - Living Light

A talented architectural and design duo elevated this property from so-so to spectacular with smart additions and pops of colour.

Frances Marais
Gemma Bedforth & Storm Ross

Living Light | House and Leisure

When Cape Town-based architect Jürgen Kieslich was approached to reinvent this Llandudno home, he immediately called on celebrated interior designer Etienne Hanekom to work on the project with him. Owners Robert and Trish Breyer wanted a facelift for their tired-looking house on the slopes of the mountain. 

‘The bones of the property were good but, being 20 years since they bought the place, it felt dated and their requirements for the space had changed,’ says Hanekom. ‘Jürgen and I were tasked with creating a clean, functional space that was modern and beautiful, but also conducive to raising their young son, Jordan. The footprint remained the same, but there were many areas that needed to be remodelled and various elements to consider,’ he explains. ‘Opening up the views was imperative – although sunlight was, funnily enough, a concern. The house was quite exposed – in a way, letting in too much light. The entrance of the property also needed rethinking… it was on the ground level and, on entering, it felt almost claustrophobic, with a low ceiling, small door and a narrow internal staircase.’

Living Light | House and LeisureLiving Light | House and Leisure

A lack of communal areas or space for guests was also a concern. ‘At that point, the house had only two bedrooms and a study upstairs. So Jürgen and I created completely separate guest quarters where the original front door was – by transforming a small foyer, guest toilet and pool storeroom into an apartment with a kitchenette. The space is connected to the house by the original staircase, but is completely private. We rerouted access to the main house via a new steel staircase from the outside,’ Hanekom continues. 

‘As avid rock climbers – and co-owners of City Rock indoor climbing gym – Robert and Trish love the outdoors,’ says Kieslich.

‘Robert loves the sea views, as well as Llandudno’s secluded location, but the outdoor space was tricky, as it was almost impossible to sit outside and enjoy the surrounds on a daily basis because of the elements. So a major part of the brief was to maximise the views outward to the sea in front, and towards  the mountains to the side and back. Linked to this was working out how to allow as much light in as possible, without it being too harsh, so we needed to moderate it without affecting the views.’

Living Light | House and Leisure

An overarching theme was connecting the house to the space within which it resides. Many of the neighbouring homes stand out and dominate the natural landscape. The owners wanted to allow the mountain and its flora to be the heroes, not the property itself. 

The duo certainly had their work cut out for them, but working with the Breyers was easy. ‘They allowed me to take the lead many times, and push their boundaries on every aspect, which led to a perfect outcome. When owners trust in your ability and skill, and allow you to do what you do best, it shows in the results,’ says Kieslich. 

On a cosmetic level, the interiors definitely needed a refresh. ‘The inside of the house felt very ’90s; there were good-quality – but dated – finishes. The kitchen was a bit impractical and didn’t feel like a space you would want to cook in – it felt very removed from the living space. The master bedroom also needed a facelift, particularly the bathroom, and there was far too little wardrobe space,’ says Hanekom. 

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‘Both Jürgen and I are very happy with the outcome,’ he adds. ‘My favourite spaces in any house are always the kitchen and bathrooms – particularly bathrooms, because these are the spaces where we start and end our day, and yet, often, so little thought goes into creating them. With this home, we tried to incorporate the outside elements into all three bathrooms, as well as the kitchen, by adding glass and planters and breaking away from a conventional layout.’

Living Light | House and Leisure

The result is a modern family abode that seamlessly connects the indoors and the outdoors, doesn’t intimidate its surrounds, and is a space that the Breyer family loves.

Visit karchitects.co.za for more information. 

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