Text Laura Twiggs Styling Tracy Lynch Photographs Greg Cox
There is a well-known maxim that says ‘Out with the old and in with the new’ but few of us are bold enough to put it into practice. Not so JP (short for Jon-Paul) and Lauren Bolus, who took spring-cleaning to an entirely new level when embarking on renovations to their Sea Point, Cape Town, home. ‘We wanted a blank canvas and knew we were going to focus first on the quality of the building itself, on the design details, and the finish and fittings,’ says architect Lauren. ‘So we put everything in the old house Son Gumtree before the contractors came in. It was all sold within one day.’
Lauren is responsible for the town house’s metamorphosis from ‘dark and small-roomed’ to what it is today: a welcoming yet streamlined contemporary space that blurs the distinctions between indoors and outdoors, bringing in views of Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and a sliver of sea while maximising light and creating a sense of airiness that belies its location on a narrow, characterful road in the heart of Sea Point’s old village.
From the slate-tiled courtyard space (boasting a solar-heated plunge pool, pizza oven and abundant vegetable-and-herb garden boxes) and the large marble-and-mirror feature island of the kitchen, to the engineered knotty-oak surfaces of the open staircase and the cedarwood screens that clad the exterior and cast atmospheric stripes of horizontal shadow throughout the interiors, there’s a balance between organic materials and slick finishes, and a palette of whites, greys and warm timbers.
‘My interiors philosophy is simplicity with attention to fine detail,’ explains Lauren. ‘I like warm minimalist spaces, devoid of clutter. I don’t believe in following trends. I wanted to create a calm and comfortable space that reflects our characters and personalities. A space should always have a spirit,’ she says, as Draco, an enormous boerbul with an epicure’s taste for homegrown herbs, gently butts her leg.
There’s no doubt that she succeeded. Both siblings are formidably focused, achievement-driven, forward-thinking and engaging. Just 26, JP began as a professional tennis player and studied surface design before starting Loading Bay, his successful De Waterkant concept store that showcases the quality lifestyle products he loves, sourced from around the world. When not involved with his business, he’s probably mountain climbing or trail running. Lauren is, in her own words, ‘a workaholic’ and when not engrossed in designing she’s running, at yoga, in the gym or cooking up a storm for family and friends gathered at the long, Gregor Jenkin- designed dining table.
‘We decided to start collecting only furniture we love, so our home is a little sparsely furnished right now. The dining table was one of our first purchases for the new space,’ says JP. ‘And, my favourite, the Poltrona Frau Italian chair,’ adds Lauren, running a loving hand across its leather seat.
Thankfully, she and JP share the same aesthetic sense and love of quality. ‘In many ways, JP was like a client throughout this job,’ says Lauren. ‘We chose materials together, and he was very involved. He designed his bed himself and the pizza oven was his idea,’ she adds.
Among other items custom made for the space are the substantial 1.2m pivot cedarwood front door and Lauren’s bedside tables, made from oak and marble left over from the bathroom vanities. ‘My catch phrase right now is sustainability,’ says JP with visible passion. Within minutes they are deep into a conversation about their next addition: vertical gardens or ‘green walls’ around the courtyard and pool area, where the herbs and veggies will grow well out of the reach of Draco’s discerning jaws.
Lauren & JP’S Home Truths
Spring brings new colour, new produce for cooking, invigorating life (Lauren and JP). We collect timeless furniture pieces, and design magazines and books. I’m surprised by our no-glitch, pleasurable building experience, thanks to our awesome building contractor. Our definition of style is simple with detail, classic with a modern edge. My secret talent is cooking (Lauren); sustainability (JP). The soundtrack to a perfect weekend is The Beatles (JP); light jazz, Brazilian and French café music (Lauren). I can’t live without good coffee, Monocle magazine, the Contemporist blog (contemporist.com) and our dog, Draco (Lauren). This spring we plan to plant vertical green walls in the courtyard and make a greenhouse. To make the most of precious downtime we head for the bush or anywhere outdoors. My pet design hate is over-design (Lauren). I think up my best ideas when I am dreaming (Lauren); when I’m outdoors (JP). My current obsession is Italy and Frame magazine (Lauren); sustainability (JP).
This article was originally featured in the September 2011 issue of House and Leisure.