We’ve owned this house forever,’ says Marianna Furman as she walks through her cleverly updated Victorian cottage in Tamboerskloof towards the glass doors that lead onto the pool deck. ‘In other words, since the early 1990s,’ she adds, laughing. Around that time, almost 25 years ago now, Marianna’s husband Jarome was keeping himself very busy: not only had he recently met Marianna, he’d also bought this house – he was especially attracted by the mature trees on one side of the property – and was newly responsible for running his family’s business, Klooftique.
An icon of the Cape Town furniture-design scene, Klooftique was started by Jarome’s father; since Jarome took over the business, Marianna has also become involved, especially on the design side. Klooftique has had the same store premises in Kloof Street for more than 40 years, and is renowned all over South Africa for its clean-lined, locally designed, handmade furnishings.
No surprise, then, that craftsmanship is important to the Furmans – and that their dedication to making carefully crafted items in their business is immediately evident in their home as well. Natural textures and materials are used everywhere here: the polished slate floors in the living spaces, for example, have the kind of patina that comes only from many years of use – and special care. Leather couches and beanbags beckon invitingly and wooden tables, shelving and counter tops gleam in the soft light.
The now-ubiquitous mantra, ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’, has been part of the ethos at Klooftique since Jarome first took over the running of the business. ‘Everything gets used or reused, so that we can be as sustainable as possible,’ says Marianna. Likewise, in their home, the open-plan kitchen-dining-living space features a number of pieces that have been around for a long time (such as the lovely old wooden dining table and vintage wooden dresser) and items made from pieces of wood that Jarome unearthed years ago and had been hanging onto ‘just in case’. Examples include the thick wooden beam that supports the ceiling in the renovated living-dining area, and the gorgeous teak kitchen counter, which was fashioned from the treads of an old staircase.
The entire rear of the kitchen-dining-living space opens onto the back garden, which features weathered wooden decking, a sheltered swimming pool, a domed pizza oven and a plethora of mature trees and shrubs – all appreciated as much for their beauty as for the shelter they provide from Cape Town’s occasionally strong winds.
On a quiet weekday morning, the sense of tranquillity offered by the garden is palpable, but this house is very much a social hub too. Marianna and Jarome share it with their two sons, Alexander (20), who is in his second year of study at the University of Cape Town, and Gregory (17), who is in Grade 11 at school. There’s a constant stream of friends, family and visitors here – not least of which is the youthful tribe that congregates around the boys.
‘I’m the mom who always has all the kids in her house,’ says Marianna. Her sons’ bedrooms are on the first floor, which was added two years ago, and their ‘lair’ includes their spacious bedrooms, both of which have lovely views up towards Table Mountain, plus a bathroom and a casual living area where Gregory’s musical equipment is permanently set up for practice. He’s a talented musician, says his obviously proud mother. All the furnishings in the lounge space can be easily moved around so that the boys’ friends can sleep over on mattresses.
So there’s no question that there was definitely a need for some extra space in the form of that additional floor. ‘Back [in the 1990s] it was a tiny Victorian cottage, and we’ve since added on to the rear of the house and, most recently, built on the extra first floor,’ says Marianna. ‘We’ve had such great help with all of it from our architect, Tamem Richa, who helped us make changes in a way that was sensitive to the heritage of the house and met with council approval.’
The Victorian façade has been kept intact with great care and attention to detail. ‘With heritage houses I think it’s important to show respect to the old by incorporating new and contemporary elements that work harmoniously together,’ says Richa. ‘There is something magical that happens when combining the old with the new; it’s the contrast between the two that allows the heritage component to shine.’
The renovations and additions to the house have also included ensuring that there is plenty of storage space. Marianna ‘loves order’, she says, and takes care to make sure that this much-loved home is not ‘overwhelmed by stuff’. And what ‘stuff’ there is also needs to be easily accessible, because ‘all the precious things we love – serving platters and cutlery and so on – are in constant use’, she adds.
As architect Tamem Richa very aptly puts it, ‘I love how the character of the family shines through in the house – they are warm and colourful people, and this is evident from the minute you step inside. This is a real “home” in every sense of the word.’
This feature is found on page 62 of the December 2016 issue of House and Leisure.