houses, Seaside

Cool Camps Bay Home

Styling Kate Boswell; Photographs Greg Cox
It’s probably not coincidental. Grant Hood, the owner of this house in Cape Town’s Camps Bay, has a distinctive kind of craggy glamour that has made him a sought-after photographic model in Europe for brands such as Burberry and BMW. Similarly, the home he has just finished renovating for himself and Jamie, his 10-year-old son, set on a forested hillside with sweeping views of mountain and sea, has its own irresistible rugged charm. Grant, who’s lived in the Atlantic Seaboard suburb for more than a decade, renovating and selling houses, had a clear idea of what he had in mind for his own space. He enlisted the services of Jan Sofka of local firm sofkapatterson architects to obtain the industrial feel he was after, having a ‘fairly tight budget’ to work with. ‘What I wanted was raw, unfinished concrete ceilings in the living area. Dark, polished cement floors. And clean, sharp lines throughout. It turned out pretty much as I had imagined,’ he says. Predictably the rough-at-the-edges appearance of the pre-cast slabs gives the place an unashamedly masculine vibe. ‘Well, there are four males living here,’ Grant jokingly points out. ‘Jamie and me, and the two dogs. It’s a masculine household.’ In addition to all the concrete, he screeded the ceilings in the two bedrooms and the en-suite bathrooms, as well as in the self-contained flatlet downstairs. Still, he has intentionally softened the hard-core effect by using textured fabrics in earthy colours for curtains, rugs, upholstery and bed throws, and warm wood for furniture wherever possible. ‘I gravitate towards things made out of wood. It ages beautifully. It’s timeless,’ he says. ‘Though I like the simplicity of clean, modern lines, I’m not a rigid minimalist. I prefer a lived-in look.’ Originally what stood here was what Grant calls ‘a grim, railways-style cottage’. But it was in an exceptional elevated position, on a park-like plot. At just over 1 000m2, it’s double sized by Camps Bay standards, and surrounded by greenery. The house was more or less gutted. One section that was retained was the old 1970s conversation pit, which was transformed into a large but cosy sunken living room leading out from the open-plan kitchen, now the heart of the house, with a cooking area sociably encircled by counters with bar stools. The space flows from the kitchen into a generously proportioned central dining and living area. Here a clever architectural concept was the skylight above the entrance stairwell, which can be opened to put in a second stairway to another level on the roof. Sliding doors open onto a wide wraparound balcony facing northwest, with views of the ocean and the imposing forms of the Twelve Apostles mountain range. This outdoor entertaining area overlooks a shady, wooded hollow in a green belt where Grant and Jamie regularly walk under the tall pines with their dogs, an American bulldog and a Victorian bulldog, both taller and more athletic than English bulldogs. Such a refreshingly rural set-up is not the norm in this heavily developed blue-chip property zone. Camps Bay houses are often large mansions that take up the whole plot, jostling cheek by jowl with their three-storey neighbours. However, as Grant is quick to point out, tucked away all over the suburb are the ordinary homes of people who’ve lived here all their lives and don’t have super-rich lifestyles. ‘Jamie’s school is full of down-to-earth people who love Camps Bay for its unique seafront position under the mountain, not because it’s the hot place to be,’ he says. Yet there couldn’t be a more suitable place for this father and son – most frequently to be found down on the beach, surfing or playing with beach bats, when not hanging out at home. It’s not surprising Grant says he wouldn’t live anywhere else. This article was originally featured in the December 2012 issue of House and Leisure.