A Chic Durban Estate Home is Inspired by the Bahamas

This home’s considered design and offbeat details give it a luxe resort feel inspired by contemporary tropical style – the epitome of island sophistication.

Lar Rattray

The updated island style popular in the chic coastal resorts of such fabled spots as Nassau in the Bahamas was Kim Rowan’s inspiration for the home she shares with her husband, Sean, and son, Hunter, in Mount Edgecombe, Durban. Kim’s a huge fan of style maven India Hicks, whose lifestyle is the epitome of island sophistication, and this house had some essential details that she knew would bring her vision to life. ‘The wraparound verandas and tongue-and-groove ceilings immediately gave the house a tropical feel – and it’s on the water, albeit a lake rather than the ocean,’ says Kim. ‘These details were perfect enough for us to be able to overlook some of the less-than-ideal aspects of the property, including a concrete kitchen and the fact that the living areas were quite dark.’

‘I would love to be a minimalist but it just wouldn’t work – I love things.’ – owner Kim Rowan

The kitchen was the first element to be updated. Kim called in interior designer Wendy-Lee Douglas of Douglas and Douglas to overhaul the space. She instantly knew she had found her design match as the pair began to discuss transforming the whole house.




Although ‘tropical’ was the word on Kim’s lips, her approach was very different to the standard palm trees, pineapples and flamingos. This is mod-tropical – think lots of light, billowing sheer curtains and oversized prints of parrots and beetles – all set against a monochrome palette with plenty of natural textures and a shot of glamour. The high-contrast black and white is emphasised through the judicious use of colour – mainly emeralds and turquoises – which recall the luxuriant tones of an island setting. 

‘We eventually decided that Kim’s style is boho luxe,’ says Wendy-Lee, and Kim agrees. ‘I love glamorous details such as mirrors, metallic touches and crystal chandeliers – but interwoven with intricate pieces and layered items that make the house feel homely. I would love to be a minimalist but it just wouldn’t work – I love things.’ And the things in this house are all beautiful, from an elegant lamp made from copper piping to a pair of tan Chesterfield sofas in deep-buttoned leather and a jade-green coffee table with curvaceous lines.