When South African fashion designer Craig Port renovated a traditional Bakoven ranch-style house in 2006, he gave architect Don Albert a clear brief: to transform the property into a glamorous bachelor pad designed for a resolutely hedonistic lifestyle. ‘The likelihood of sharing the space and becoming a family man seemed very remote,’ says Craig. ‘This house is proof that anything is possible.’
In the intervening years, the stylish house has metamorphosed into an authentic home for Craig, his partner Bryan D Hellmann, their six-year-old twins Khloe and Luke, and the family dog Rocco.
The birth of their twins inevitably brought positive fundamental changes to the couple’s lifestyle. For Craig, the effect has been profound, both professionally and personally. It reignited a sense of limitless, exciting possibility that someone feels when pioneering a new life. ‘I was inspired all over again,’ he says, ‘and while this may not be the largest house I’ve lived in, it’s certainly the happiest.’
Bryan, a clinical psychologist, notes that as the couple’s lifestyle was transformed, so was their abode’s timelessness. Apart from child-proofing certain areas, such as the pool, almost nothing was done to the structure. It’s a testament to the everlasting style of the original makeover that it almost seamlessly evolved from an architectural showcase to a thoroughly lived-in home.
Craig and Bryan say they are glad that they neither moved elsewhere nor made significant changes. ‘The stages of the children’s lives shift so fast,’ says Craig. ‘One minute they’re babies, then toddlers, then little people – before we know it, they’ll be adolescents with a whole new set of interests and needs!’
The house is a no-limits zone. ‘We don’t believe in putting everything out of reach of skateboards and toy cars,’ says Craig. ‘Within reason, of course.’ A few items have been placed in storage, like a sharp-edged hexagonal coffee table, more to safeguard the twins than to protect the furniture, but seeing Khloe and Luke eat their Cheerios from an heirloom China soup bowl was no surprise.
The main living room consists of a glass-fronted, sea-facing space, encompassing a galley kitchen-cum-dining room, living area and study nook. There are also the twins’ bedroom and bathroom, the en suite main bedroom, a guest suite and a gallery of wallpapered family photos that doubles as an entertainment room. A terraced garden leads down to the pool, sheltered from the road by a big wooden screen at the property’s front. The leitmotif of wood is repeated in the exterior cladding and an elevated, pool-facing deck.
‘I’m a bit of a collector,’ says Craig. ‘Once I’ve lived with pieces for a while, even if they weren’t valuable when I bought them, they become treasured possessions to me.’ As such, there’s a cheerful blend of fun items amid more ‘serious’ artworks by Walter Meyer, Cecil Skotnes, Edoardo Villa and Brett Murray.
Each year, the couple have commissioned different artist friends, using various mediums, to mark the twins’ birthday: on display throughout the house are paintings by Tracy Payne, work by ceramicist Martine Jackson, bronzes by Otto du Plessis and mixed media pieces by Kurt Pio. ‘It’s exciting to see the different ways they capture the essence of the children in their art,’ says Craig.
The den-like feel of the bedrooms – all dark hues and textured fabrics – was deliberately designed by Paul Vandenberg of interior specialists Cécile & Boyd to provide a cool contrast to the brilliant colours of the Atlantic Seaboard.
‘This house is inescapably “on the beach”,’ says Craig. ‘It’s confronted all year round by the glare of the sun and blindingly bright ocean. There was no need to emphasise it with creams, whites and sea-blues; we wanted the antithesis – a welcome refuge.