houses

Contemporary Bo-Kaap Home


Text Hilary Prendini Toffoli Styling Jeanne Botes Photographs Greg Cox WHO SCHALK VAN WYK AND CHRIS SMIT WHERE CAPE TOWN SIZE 130M2 The house has been here well over 150 years. It clings to the slopes of Cape Town’s Signal Hill and has stone walls a metre thick. Angular and flat-roofed with a subtle moulding running along the top and a window on either side of the front door, the look is Georgian. It’s typical of the Cape buildings of the period that were settled by freed slaves on the edge of the city and have since become prime real estate. Yet, though the house is traditional Bo-Kaap, the feel inside is contemporary. Simplicity is the key and the overall aesthetic breathes the current no-frills mood and ambience. Nothing hijacks the sense of double-volume spaciousness. Clearly there’s a nice overlap between the skill sets of the two designers (designer Schalk van Wyk and interior designer, Chris Smit) who created this streamlined, refined space. Although the house has since been sold, what initially attracted them to it was its seductive courtyard. ‘We immediately fell in love with this shady oasis in the city,’ says Chris. ‘Star jasmine that climbs all over the walls and windows. Goldfish in the pond. We could even hear birds in the trees. It’s a tranquil place where lunches go on for hours.’ The house is a compact space – 130m2 in all. Downstairs is the living, dining and kitchen area, plus entrance and courtyard. Here a section of wall has been left unplastered to reveal the old stones. Upstairs are two bedrooms with bathrooms, reached by a metal stairway with wooden treads. They painted the screeded floor downstairs black, because 'black creates cosiness', says Schalk. ‘It’s an emotional thing. And the glossy black stoep paint adds a lustre that contrasts strongly with the matt white walls.’ Though he admits he tends to think the only colour is black, he did paint some of the upstairs walls midnight blue – a shade he mixed himself. ‘A nightmare when you have to repaint,’ says Chris. The house is filled with interesting objects, often arranged in themes on various tables and dressers. Some pieces are sourced in the Karoo, others on trips abroad. Favourite local retailers include Cécile & Boyd’s, Baraka, Pezula, O.live, LIM and OKHA. This article was originally featured in the March 2012 issue of House and Leisure.