decor, Interviews, Spaces

inspiring SA star Bonnie Mbuli shares her take on urban living in Cape Town

Greg Cox

Bonnie Mbuli is the quintessential high-flying soul sister with a glamorous life, demanding schedule and a deep love of natural hair. But, refreshingly for someone with such a big life, the actress and TV personality has opted to settle her family in an upmarket loft apartment in Cape Town’s city centre (as opposed to somewhere on the more expected Atlantic Seaboard or southern suburbs).

In our March #CompactLiving issue, she shares why she feels so drawn to urban living. We've asked her for a one-on-one online exclusive as she navigates career, family and quintessential style in her fast-paced life.

What’s your ideal way to spend a Saturday morning in the city?

We love to walk in the city that we live in. Driving and finding parking takes up so much time, which defeats the purpose of a weekend. We usually stroll to a breakfast spot and then on to the promenade while the boys ride their bikes.

Who serves the best coffee in Cape Town?

That's such a tough question! In town: Deluxe in Bo-Kaap and Origin in De Waterkant. In Woodstock, we love Rosetta at the [Woodstock] Exchange. 

Any hidden gems you’ve discovered since moving into the CBD?

Lovely shopping spots and restaurants – I'm enjoying Skinny Legs [Luxury Café in Loop Street] and Smak on Bree Street.

What do your kids love most about city living? And what do they envy (if anything) about the suburban homes of school friends?

My kids like that it forces us to be creative about where we go; they love that they can ride their bikes in the city – it makes them feel independent and confident. We are certainly not a suburb family and there’s a culture in Cape Town's suburbs that is the antithesis of the things we stand for.

Where’s your favourite place to go when you need a little greenery or nature in your life? 

We enjoy hiking up Lion's Head or in Deer Park [in Vredehoek]. Sometimes we pop into Green Point Park for a picnic.

As South Africans, we often imagine entertaining around a braai or a swimming pool. How do you enjoy entertaining at home?

I don't entertain that much at home. We do, however, love to to have a pre-dinner drink before heading out for the meal – the city has so many beautiful spots!

What advice do you have for families longing to escape suburbia for an urban environment?

Just do it! You won’t regret it. There’s a certain awareness and alertness that city life teaches children. The questions the children ask us about what they see in the city really sparks interesting conversations in our family; it’s as safe as anywhere else and a whole lot of fun!

Since moving to the city, are family holidays also city-focused, or do you crave some time in nature? 

Living in the city makes you think about the world in a different way. Choosing a holiday destination becomes about opening your mind to a different way of life. It's about learning new things about the world around us, versus seeking comfort or luxury. We like the lock-up-and-go aspect of living here: it really makes going away hassle-free.

The spiral staircase provides a lofty perspective of the downstairs living area and the leafy street beyond. Rich in textures and bold colours, the eclectic space successfully combines disparate pieces such as a blue velvet couch, mustard scatter cushions and a large Persian rug.

Continuing the theme of organic simplicity, the main bedroom is a light-filled and muted space complete with varying textures and the occasional pop of colour. Above the bed is a framed poster commemorating an art show by Jim Dine.

    

An accent wall provides a gentle contrast to the all-white interior, as do the vintage wooden dining chairs and table. ‘This nook is one of my favourite spots in our home,’ says Bonnie. ‘The chairs don’t match because I acquired them at different times from various markets. I have a thing for collecting and restoring antique pieces.'

Bonnie’s love of flowers has led to her collecting a number of vases in contrasting tones, one of which has been used here to highlight an otherwise classic mahogany antique server.

The spacious apartment is located in a beautiful Art Deco building in the city centre.