a quiet place: tour this serene home at the base of signal hill
For Nick and Robyn Gluckman, a calm and serene environment to come home to at the end of each day is of utmost importance. As soon as you step into their five-bedroom house at the base of Signal Hill in Cape Town, it’s evident that they have got their wish. Light streams in from the floor-to-ceiling steel-framed windows that encircle the lower floor of the abode. The space flows seamlessly from the open-plan kitchen to the lounge below and out onto a sunny deck at the rear, which is enveloped by a lush garden.
Nick, who is the owner of Oggie Hardwood Flooring, was immediately drawn to the house when he saw images of it on a property site seven years ago. On a whim, he decided to buy it without seeing the space in person. ‘I’d been looking for a place to buy for about six months. There were a few properties that I’d seen and liked, but they’d always fallen through. I was on holiday in the Transkei when this one came on the market, and when I saw the photos, I just knew,’ says Nick. ‘I sent my dad to look at the house, meet with the estate agent and buy it on my behalf.’
It was mostly the location, the surrounding natural environment and the openness of the site that Nick was drawn to. ‘It was in no way my “dream” home – it was very masculine, with a lot of concrete, steel window frames and red brick as an accent colour throughout. But I didn’t rush to make changes; I knew that when I found my wife, we’d probably want to renovate the place together.’ He was right.
Nick and Robyn, who works in marketing, met five years later through mutual friends, and after about two years of dating, tied the knot. ‘On our second date, Nick met my four cats and discovered all my cat furniture, and luckily he stuck around. I’ve had to cut back on spoiling the cats, but we’ve met each other halfway,’ says Robyn.
The pets’ requirements played a big part in the couple’s brief to Zeanne Duminy and James Goss of Zeanne + Goss Interior Architecture Design, when they began the renovation process.
‘I already had my two miniature schnauzers and a cat, so with Rob’s four feline additions, we seriously had to take the pets into consideration too,’ says Nick. (The couple has since added Harry, a cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy, to the pack.)
Apart from the animals’ needs, the pair wanted the space to be less masculine and more open, to maximise the use of space and really bring the outdoors in, with lots of greenery and water-wise plants. ‘While we gave Zeanne and James a very tight brief based on our human needs, we were also open to letting them take the house in the direction that they felt would be best,’ says Robyn. The building was completely gutted, leaving only the structure and steel-framed windows of the original home.
‘I believe you need to let the experts do their job. Zeanne’s and James’ skills lie in architecture, interior and design. I think many people make the mistake of hiring professionals and then thinking that they know better, which often results in a less than desirable outcome,’ says Nick. ‘This is why we gave Zeanne and James carte blanche from start to finish.’
And it paid off. ‘They created exactly what we wanted,’ says Nick. ‘In fact, they exceeded our expectations; there’s nothing I’d change.’ Robyn adds. ‘They considered everything: from a night light below the loo and an integrated spice drawer next to the oven – because Nick loves to cook – to storage solutions such as the basket drawers under each of the beds.’
‘The flooring was pretty much the only thing we chose ourselves. I went with Oggie’s smaller chevron panels, as I thought it would suit the space best and, of course, it’s suitable for pets,’ says Nick. ‘We didn’t even select the colour palette!’
The upper level of the home is where the main bedroom and Robyn’s office is situated (the latter was ‘catified’ to include various fun yet functional elements for the felines).
Nick and Robyn agree that the main bedroom is their favourite space in the house, but for different reasons. ‘I just love the design of the room. I love to sleep in, and chill here. The fact that there’s a daybed for all the pets and a cleverly designed headboard incorporating USB ports to charge all our gadgets reinforces the fact that the team met our needs so well,’ says Robyn.
‘I grew up in the Eastern Cape – always outdoors,’ says Nick. ‘What I love about our place is that it feels like we could be anywhere in the country, not five minutes from the CBD. In our bedroom, I can watch the sun come up, see the squirrels running in the trees, and take in the beautiful, uninterrupted views – it’s very special.’
Duminy refers to the main bedroom as an ‘adult tree house’ and concurs that it’s the best space in the house. ‘It’s great having trusting clients who believe in the role of the designer,’ she says. ‘Nick and Robyn have keen design eyes and were happy to push ideas and test new proposals. This, coupled with the faith that they had in the professional team, made for a great project.’
Goss says that his two preferred transformed areas are the master bathroom and the kitchen: ‘Both spaces now feel open, fresh and inviting, and also answer all of Nick and Robyn’s practical needs.’
Robyn says, ‘This is our dream home. We plan on living in it for years and starting a family here. We may live here forever – I mean why would you leave?’ Why indeed?