A Smart Renovation In Camps Bay
A thoughtful renovation took this Camps Bay home from old-fashioned double storey to streamlined beach bungalow with sea and mountain views.
The location is what first attracted Kenneth Collins to this property on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard, and it’s the location that made the renovation of the existing structure on it fairly challenging. Set at the top of a slope, the house faces towards where the sun sets over the sea.
‘I have a “sunrise house” in Ballito looking over the Indian Ocean,’ says Kenneth, who comes from a four-generation Durban property-developer family, ‘and I wanted this to be my “sunset house” over the Atlantic.’ But with its dark tiled floors, cramped upper deck, smallish windows and doors, and a dated stairway, the house had a closed-in feel.
To achieve the wide-open simplicity that Kenneth visualised, he had to gut the whole building. It was also necessary to raise the level of the sloping front lawn, and since there was no side access to the property, the required tons of fill-in had to be brought in through the house. Retaining walls had to be built around the boundary, too.
Kenneth admits he enjoys a challenge. ‘In our family, we know our way around a building site,’ is how he puts it. His career as a developer has included creating a resort on an island he bought in the Seychelles and has since sold, a second-home chalet in the French Alps, and a lodge on his own game reserve in Limpopo.
The Camps Bay revamp took about a year. To help him breathe new life into the house, he brought in Durban-based architect Lisa Rorich, who has worked on several of his projects, and interior designer Kate Moffatt of Hint Decor.
Rorich and Moffatt reinvented whatever was left of the original structure, even having the roof taken off to create a more contemporary effect with exposed trusses.
Wide, warm oak planks replaced the cold floor tiles, 3m-high glass doors were put in to maximise views, and floor-to-ceiling timber cladding was added to walls both inside and on the veranda to blur the division between indoors and out.
Slatted and matt black, the cladding also creates appealing texture and imparts a sleek modern look to the minimalist interior. ‘My Durban house is painted black, but this is the first time I’ve used black in an interior,’ Kenneth says. ‘Mixed with natural tones, I think it works well.’
The garden is a vital part of the property’s visual appeal. ‘The updated house required a garden that reflected the owners’ preference for a lush yet simple modern space with usable outdoor areas,’ says landscape designer Franchesca Watson. To this end, she placed frangipani trees in large square gabion planters on the deck area alongside the house and, for the rest, put in bold, large-leafed plants contrasted with grasses and jasmine.
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At the bottom of the garden, Watson created a long, narrow pool to provide what she considers ‘a wonderfully glamorous reflective element fringed by lush plantings’. Next to it she created another carefully proportioned deck containing a gravelled fire pit, which Kenneth says adds great ambience to sunset cocktails. ‘I’m a bush guy and I wanted to bring that bush vibe down to Cape Town.’
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This clever and considered renovation won the HL Readers' Renovation Award 2018, so we asked homeowner Kenneth Collins to share his top pieces of renovation advice with us.
Kenneth Collins' Top 5 Renovation Tips
1. Plan your renovation properly. Know your professional team and be sure about what you want.
2. Get a reliable structural engineer involved from the beginning of the renovation project.
3. Make sure you have all your various approvals – municipal, neighbours and so on – in place before you commence renovation work.
4. Hold back sufficient funds to keep all contractors interested. Retain a substantial amount as final payment until everything related to the renovation has been completed to your satisfaction.
5. Expect your budget to have gone up by the completion of the renovation project, and factor that in before you start. Include your garden in your budget because this is usually overlooked and the garden can really make the whole space.