A lime-green front door set in charcoal exterior walls makes Mpho and Harald Vackier’s home stand out from the earth-toned houses that surround it in an estate near Irene in Centurion, Gauteng. This bold juxtaposition is characteristic of the double-storey property, which has eclectic design and easygoing family living at its heart.
Previously a process engineer on platinum mines, Mpho switched to interior design to follow her passion and spend more time at home with their son Xavier. Mpho runs her two businesses – Design Peo, an interior-decorating consultancy, and The Urbanative, her product-design studio – out of her home. Fabric swatches, flooring samples and other tools of the trade litter the floor and adorn the walls of her office, reflecting her work and creative process.
The rest of the house, though meticulously neat, is a similar extension of Mpho’s work and the family’s combined personalities. Her client projects demand planning and process but in her own home, Mpho is free to experiment and play, which she does regularly, changing up the house almost every weekend – new scatter cushions in the TV room, a different couch in the living room, a wallpaper ceiling planned for her office sometime soon. The lime-green front door, which was yellow a few weeks ago, might well be pink in the not-too-distant future.
‘Because the layout works so well now, I can do anything in the space,’ Mpho says. This is the result of a full renovation she oversaw in 2015 before the family moved in, which included fixing structural issues, adding windows and doors to allow light to stream in, extending the patio and changing the overall layout to suit the family’s lifestyle.
Mpho says that she wanted it to ultimately reflect their characters, and the outcome is an open, bright and cosy house made for living in – the family’s dream home. And while on the surface the place has a wide-ranging style, closer inspection reveals a specific conversation between European and African design influences, with the decor combining her South African and Harald’s Belgian heritage.
The flowing open-plan living spaces downstairs have multiple areas where the family and guests can gather and relax. The Vackiers love entertaining: ‘I want people to feel at home when they walk into my house,’ Mpho says. ‘I don’t want them feeling as though they can’t touch anything; it’s a space I want everyone to share.’
A typical weekend sees Harald preparing an early lunch while Xavier takes a swim and Mpho relaxes on the patio with the family’s two Yorkshire terriers, Lala and Zoe. Sunday mornings usually start off slowly with reading in bed followed by ‘lupper’, lunch and supper combined, at a nearby restaurant to have Xavier in bed early for the school week ahead. Sometimes, they visit the Irene Dairy Farm or walk the dogs around the estate.
Harald is the chef in the family, and Mpho designed the kitchen to suit his needs. The cool turquoise accents, which include pendants over the island where the family eat breakfast every morning, lend a casual feel to the white marble surfaces, and geometric floor tiles echo the shape of the breeze-block wall that encloses an outdoor sitting area off the kitchen. Mpho loves pattern play and this theme recurs throughout the home in linen, soft furnishing and wallpapered feature walls in the bedrooms.
Dove-grey interior walls provide a contemporary backdrop to the family’s mix-and-match aesthetic, and against this neutral palette, splashes of colour inject moments of spontaneity into the home. The guest bathroom door opens onto a surprise wall-wrap print of Tretchikoff’s ‘Balinese Girl’, and scattered throughout the home are images and references to Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. In the dining room, a collection of oil paintings by South African artist Isabel Naude is a recent addition. ‘I collect what speaks to me,’ Mpho says. ‘I buy things for love, not for a space.’
Hanging in different rooms are framed posters from art exhibitions that the family have visited during their travels. They act as mementoes and reminders of important family history, while also adding character to the spaces. Although the decor might change frequently, what remains the same in the Vackiers’ house is a consistent expression of personality.
Read Mpho’s secrets of Irene here.
This home originally appeared in House and Leisure’s May issue.