Text Ann Ellis Brown Styling Julia Stadler Photographs Warren Heath
High above Hout Bay in Cape Town lies the secure, stylish mountain retreat of Darryl and Naomi Croome, which they share with their son, Bradley, a musician and 3-D-animation student. For Darryl, a founding partner of Arthur Quinton Darryl Croome Architects, what makes a house a home is the way it ‘works’ for its occupants.
There’s no doubt that the Croomes’ home works for them, offering plenty of private and communal spaces while being in complete harmony with its natural setting; this is a family that loves the outdoors. ‘Bradley grew up with the mountain in his back yard,’ remarks Naomi, who along with her husband enjoys early-morning runs over Chapman’s Peak, followed by dips in the swimming pool at home.
Darryl’s philosophy when it comes to designing houses is that the architect’s personal style should recede to the extent that future owners are able to successfully stamp their personality on it without resorting to structural changes. Several years after having designed and built his own family’s home, he says there’s not a lot he would change. Naturally, how the design fits into its environment is one of Darryl’s key concerns, his own home providing a perfect example. The prevailing vertical and horizontal lines of the house mirror those in the scoured and cross-hatched cliff faces of the mountain backdrop; the few discernible curves (such as the balustrade of the mezzanine gallery) evoke the bend of the distant shoreline glimpsed through clerestory windows. The palette and textures are predominantly those of the locale – beach sand, driftwood, earthy-brown and wet-black and, here and there, a metallic glint. The background sound is appropriately that of running water.
‘We’ve consciously pared things down to the essentials we enjoy,’ says Darryl.
While there’s nothing in excess, the house doesn’t feel austere. Infused with natural light, the interiors feature customised pieces such as comfy couches alongside furniture by local designers such as Haldane Martin. The couple were assisted by Cori Quinton, who offers an interior-design consultancy as part of the turnkey service provided by the Aquacor Group, of which Darryl’s architecture firm is part.
From the front door, cantilevered steps draw the eye to the soaring double volume of the entrance hall; a floating terrazzo counter and shelves invite you past the utilitarian kitchen through frameless glazing to the balau deck and mountain-stream-fed pond beyond. Unpolished raw-marble tiles extend through the living space to the entertainment area outside where dry-stone walls of Namaqualand sandstone and gravel complement the indigenous garden. ‘It’s not a big house but the proportions feel generous,’ says Darryl.
The Croomes are praise-singers for the Hout Bay village. ‘It’s a lifestyle thing,’ says Darryl. ‘As I drive over Suikerbossie, I leave work behind. There’s a tranquillity here, yet it’s only 20 minutes from anywhere.’
Naomi and Darryl were both volunteers at James House, the local children’s place of safety. ‘The issues are right in your face,’ says Naomi. ‘You’ve just got to muck in and assist or live in a world of denial.’
The Croomes radiate contentment when describing their lifestyle: walking down the vertiginous roads to the village, bumping into former James House children, now adults, or hiking on the Vlakkenberg Trail. Or simply being at home, whether throwing back the massive glass doors for a party, or gathering around a roaring fire when the weather turns. Arthur Quinton Darryl Croome Architects, aquacor.co.za
DARRYL AND NAOMI’S HOME TRUTHS
- We love living where we do because everything we value is on our doorstep (Naomi).
- Our most rash purchase was buying our first plot in Hout Bay in 1987 for R32 000!
- I think up my best ideas when I’m most relaxed – at home (Darryl).
- Building our own home has taught us the importance of working with an experienced and reputable contractor, and of having a proper building contract.
- My favourite piece of design advice is don’t compromise on natural light, raised ceilings and double-volume spaces (Darryl).
- The building I wish I’d designed is Green Point Stadium (Darryl).
- My pet design hate is overdesign and poor imitation (Darryl).
- My interiors motto is to keep it simple with uncluttered and calm spaces.
- Good design is timeless; style is fashionable but temporary (Darryl).
- My favourite things are the aloes in our garden, our koi fish and my recliner on the patio (Naomi).
- Our entertaining style is relaxed, alfresco dining (Naomi).
- My signature dinner-party dish is South Indian curry with freshly caught crayfish (Darryl).
- Our favourite eateries are Casareccio in Hout Bay for coffee with our running mates, and Kitima, also in Hout Bay, for dinner and Sunday lunches.
- Our most inspiring place is the Cederberg (Darryl and Naomi).
This article originally appeared in the May 2010 issue of House and Leisure.