Melanie Stockl and her late husband Martin took a leap of faith when they purchased a penthouse in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, unseen. ‘When this apartment came up but had to be bought without viewing, we took the plunge, knowing that we could work with whatever was there,’ says Melanie.
Their confidence came from having collaborated with Greg and Roché Dry of Egg Designs, a bespoke interior design firm, on the interiors of many of Martin’s restaurants, as well as the house where they lived with their son Sam. They loved Egg’s blend of contemporary and creative design and knew the duo could bring their vision of a sophisticated, sexy space with interesting elements to life in their new home. ‘The first time we entered the house, we already owned it,’ says Melanie. ‘We discovered a warren of rooms with outdated finishes and fixtures, and it felt quite suffocating.’
The starting point was a structural renovation to transform the living room into an open-plan space. ‘Creating a main living area that feels spacious and comfortable when it is actually quite small was the biggest challenge,’ says Roché. ‘The new architectural configuration of the rooms allowed for privacy in each living area while ensuring that every one could offer a view.’
Martin loved cooking for friends, so the home needed to allow him to be in the kitchen and be part of the occasion at the same time. The cooking space is a standout feature: a green-tiled concave wall arches inward, enveloping the area to make it cosy and inviting while adding some architectural interest, and black cabinetry offsets the copper-clad extractor perfectly. Copper, green and black details are evident throughout, but the colour scheme developed organically with individual pieces custom-made to work with others,resulting in a harmonious feel.
The private rooms are much more pared back and both bedrooms have a soothing, neutral palette strongly featuring natural wood – a nod to Melanie’s love of the outdoors. ‘I am an avid gardener and moving from our house with its big, beautiful garden was tough,’ she says. To add greenery, she worked with landscaper James Hallé to design wooden, double-sided vertical gardens that create different areas within the outdoor space. Glimpses of this lush environment through glass doors from the interior enhance the sense of seamlessness between the inside and outside.
‘We spent time considering our lifestyle before making any decisions,’ says Melanie. ‘We only needed two bedrooms, so the third became a media room, which doubles as a guest room for Sam’s friends.’ The 6m-long bespoke sofa comfortably sleeps two teenagers, and sliding doors allow the room to be closed off.
In a home with many standout elements, one of the boldest is green, large-scale ‘crocodile-skin’ wallpaper. ‘It has a nostalgic feel, like a lady’s vintage handbag. This space has an intimate, gentlemen’s-club sensibility, with French velvet upholstery on the couch and timber panelling, and I often curl up in here to read or watch television,’ says Melanie. Another talking point is the drinks cabinet, its function well disguised behind a pair of mirrored doors adorned with Egg Designs’ signature rosettes. ‘It is important for us that we create unique living spaces for our clients, so we make custom pieces that are exclusive to each installation,’ says Roché.
Against the backdrop of well-thought-out details, layers of accessories create a lived-in atmosphere. ‘The house is sophisticated and timeless, yet at the same time unique and interesting,’ says Roché. ‘When you enter, you feel completely comforted and comfortable; it seems to cocoon you.’ Melanie agrees, describing her home simply as ‘my happy place.’