Despite its seaboard location, there’s a feeling of an urban farmhouse to the Three Anchor Bay house that brothers Danie and Frank Louw call home. The brothers bought it in 2014, predominantly lured by its prime position and proximity to the Sea Point promenade, but also because it offered them the generosity of space and the outdoor areas that they craved.
‘Make no mistake it was a shipwreck,’ recalls Danie, an architectural designer and co-owner of ADsquared, an architectural practice that takes on mostly residential work. Set on a 200m2 erf, the Victorian house is a generous 220m2 in size and laid out over two floors. ‘It was filled to the rafters with students, covered in graffiti and every inch of available space was given over to accommodation.’ And yet, despite such indignities to the original Victorian design, clues to its former old-world charm remained intact. ‘The elegant and original arched front door drew us in initially but it was pretty dire beyond that. Thankfully the original wooden floors were in pretty good condition and just needed a fresh sanding.’
Danie and Frank began their renovation and refurbishment of the house in 2015 and started by gutting the place before adding a new kitchen and new bathrooms throughout. There were few structural changes to make, bar removing a wall between the kitchen and the living areas, exposing the floor rafters in the kitchen from the timber floors above it and incorporating an outside room in the back courtyard into the current kitchen. The builders were in and out in three months. ‘The house gets a lot of natural light, so we really just opened it up to the outdoors and lightened it up with white walls and wood underfoot.’
But then these brothers, who hail from Caledon, have done this before. ‘We also own a beach house in Kleinmond that we bought and renovated a few years ago,’ says Danie.
Their decision to buy together was prompted by the city’s steep property prices and their desire to have a house rather than an apartment. ‘Pooling our resources just made sense,’ says Danie. Another factor was that Frank is based in Tanzania for most of the year, where he works as an executive chef for Singita Grumeti. ‘It made sense to have a base for when I come home on leave,’ Frank notes. With Danie’s architectural know-how and project management skills on hand, acquiring this property was a no-brainer.
Their vision was to create a home in which they could entertain all year round, whatever the weather. To this end, the downstairs areas are public spaces that open to the outdoors, so that whether you’re at the front of the house in the pool or at the back in the braai area you’re in the mix. ‘Entertaining is how we like to relax,’ says Danie. ‘We really do see this as a house for everyone.’
In keeping with their relaxed style, the colour palette throughout is grounded but with a strong African/gentleman’s club sensibility. ‘As kids, we travelled extensively through the continent with our parents,’ explains Danie. ‘So we’re both drawn to natural materials, such as wood, and contemporary African objets.’ And, of course, Frank’s long sojourns in the Serengeti for his work means that he often returns home with new finds and mementos. ‘I have visited him twice at Singita Grumeti and I must say I’m hugely influenced and inspired by camps such as Sasakwa Lodge and Faru Faru Lodge,’ says Danie. So much so that they used the same wallpaper found in the lodges in their living room. Danie has injected the space with a dash of modernity through the use of accents of black everywhere.
‘I love how all old European homes have a touch of black in them. I’ve tried to do the same here because it brings a sharpness to the old style of the house.’
When it came to furnishing the home, Danie opted for a mix of inherited and vintage items interspersed with local design pieces. ‘I regularly trawl junk shops and places like the Milnerton Flea Market for interesting one-off finds that I can use both at home and at work.’ Nor is he shy to repurpose things that he comes across. For example, there’s a black glass-and-metal screen that has been cleverly employed in his bedroom to shield the toilet from view. ‘I found it in an old shop in Woodstock, painted it black and adapted it to fit the space.’
The dining table is another custom piece that Danie commissioned slightly higher than an ordinary table. ‘I wanted it to function as a work island too because when we entertain it needs to be a prep station, a bar and an eating surface.’ For the rest, it’s robust leather armchairs from @home and a leather sofa from Klooftique set atop red Persian rugs that add character and colour. It’s clear that practicality and longevity are important to Danie. ‘I’m not someone who spends lots of money on furniture; I believe that a home can’t just look good; it has to function well too.’ The perfect balance.
This article was published in HL November 2016