For architect couple Greg and Kate Scott, the owners of this perfectly succinct, modern apartment just off the buzzy main drag of Cape Town’s De Waterkant, space – or a lack of it – has never been much of a burning issue. That is, other than when Kate first moved in with Greg, and it was a matter of where her clothes would go (though soon efficiently resolved thanks to slick new cupboards).
At a compact 78m2 in total, with the apartment’s sole bedroom and bathroom occupying a neat mezzanine level set above the open-plan living area, it might sound like a squeeze, especially with the arrival of newborn daughter Nila. But for Greg and Kate, committed urbanists who love the convenience of lock-up-and-go living and being right in the mix of things, their home is a comfortable fit.
The double-volume interior with its fresh monochrome palette is surprisingly capacious and airy, thanks in good part to some clever design solutions that have been implemented along the way.
‘It didn’t look anything like this when I bought it,’ admits Greg, a partner at Greg Wright Architects and Site Interior Design, for whom the apartment had served as a more than adequate bachelor pad. Before he fixed it up, ‘it was all red brick and terracotta tiles, with a bricked-in kitchen in the middle,’ he says. Built as mixed-use apartments or offices in a complex adjoining a hotel, the units share a versatile industrial aesthetic. For Greg, it was a fairly simple case of gutting the space to create an uninterrupted flow between lounge, kitchen, dining and study areas, and giving the bathroom a top-to-toe makeover. The shell was painted out and the floors fitted with porcelain tiles.
The rectangular expanse already had the advantage of large glass windows at either end, and the removal of the interior walls allowed for it to be suffused with beautiful natural light.
‘Light from two sides is the key to a great room,’ says Greg.
Kate’s moving in spurred additional improvements, and tied in with the launch of her own architectural design studio (Greg took on the role of ‘client’ while she produced the drawings). ‘It’s been nice to let the space evolve organically around us,’ she says. ‘As architects, you evolve as designers all the time, so it’s good to test your ideas in your own space.’
When it came to merging their styles, it helped that they shared a predilection for a pared-down palette. ‘Architects see in black, white and grey,’ laughs Kate. Greg is quick to point out that the seemingly bright white walls, floors, shelves and furniture pieces are actually subtle shades of the palest grey. ‘I don’t do white,’ he quips.
‘The trick is to paint the ceiling the same colour as the walls,’ advises Kate. ‘But with small spaces, a big principle is to wrap colour all around – the second you start to segment colour, you break up the space.’ For Greg, ‘the key to successful small-space management is storage’. And it’s indeed one of the best tricks in their home, from the slick handle-less bedroom cupboards, the generous drawers neatly set into the bathroom vanity as well as down a side of the kitchen island, to the clean-lined wall unit in the living area.
This is very much a lived-in home, filled with photos of the couple, books and mementos. ‘We’re minimalists at heart, but inherently messy,’ Greg grins.
‘I think what we’ve done here is to distil it down to the minimum of what we’re about, while retaining key pieces and things that are unashamedly us.’
Bringing a baby into the space has meant they’ve had to find new solutions, but, says Kate, ‘it’s what we’re trained to do!’ An integral part of her business is designing nurseries that are an extension of the home; serene, practical but also a space that will ‘grow with you and your child’. They’re simply taking it in their stride.
Originally published in our March 2014 issue
Read about one of Greg Scott’s latest architectural projects, Luke Dale-Roberts’ Naturalis restaurant, on pg 73 of HL March 2016.