houses

Edwardian Cape Town Home


Text Leigh Robertson Styling Jeanne Botes Photographs Adriaan Louw Some houses are both stupendously stylish and beyond impressive in the litany of alterations and adjustments that they have undergone: the walls that have come down, the very foundations that have been shifted, the utter transformation. You can appreciate the toil and drama, the time sacrifices and, then, the final touches that have been added with a proud flourish by the exhausted homeowners. But what is never a given in such homes is the way that they feel once everyone has set up house and full lives have at last been lived in them, after the rubble has been removed and the dust has settled. The upper Claremont home belonging to well-known Cape Town-based communications specialist Tziona Kerton and her two daughters, Saskia, 12, and Sabina, eight, is one such house. And yes, there were a good seven months’ worth of dust and rubble in the mix, hard to imagine when surveying the space now, five years on: classically elegant, meticulous, and filled with custom-designed pieces perfectly befitting Tziona’s yen for understated glamour, not to mention a small gallery’s worth of artworks. Yet the house is no paean to coffee-table-book style, all surface and little substance. There is what can only be called a beautiful, lively energy about Tziona’s home that goes beyond her spirited use of colour and love of quirky and surprising design elements. It has everything to do with the workings of the modern family, who share a delight in music (they installed surround-sound, and have a piano in the hub of things) and play. There’s an optimistic, distinctly feminine air about this much-loved home. When Tziona first set foot inside the solid, thick-walled Edwardian-era residence, she could see what many other potential buyers had failed to recognise: that once all those walls, creating a veritable warren of meaningless rooms with no flow and decorated with a bizarre overkill of arches, had been razed, the house would come to life. The dark, dead spaces would be filled with light. With this renovation, Tziona sought to honour what she calls the original structure’s ‘integrity’, correcting what had been done in previous incarnations while also opening everything up. ‘The living arrangements as they were simply didn’t make sense,’ she says. ‘There was nothing considered or logical about the layout.’ What is now Tziona’s bedroom at the back of the house was the former kitchen; the current kitchen previously the dining room; and the wonderful family room leading off it, extending to the front of the house, previously an oddly placed bedroom. Interior architect Nicolette Tyers of Colonial House Design (now Lion & Tyers) set about re-mapping the house in its entirety, keeping its bones intact. ‘Nicky is a genius when it comes to structure, space and flow,’ says Tziona, adding that the renovation resulted in an enduring friendship. As they should be, the three en-suite bedrooms are now grouped together, flowing out to a small, decked courtyard, while an additional guest room and bathroom are private. Importantly for the family, a separate home office was converted into generous, self-contained lodgings for Tziona’s mother. The knotted pine floors were pulled up and pale travertine tiles laid throughout, creating a pleasing neutral effect. New sash windows and French doors were installed, along with a vast number of cupboards. ‘It’s the first time in my life that I’ve had more storage space than I’ve needed,’ Tziona says with a laugh. With the interiors, she’s played with the idea of scale, bringing in generously proportioned pieces that look just right. ‘All our previous furniture was dwarfed in all this space,’ adds Tziona, who says she’s always had ‘a passion for art and interiors’. She describes her style as ‘classic with a twist’. ‘I’m not scared to do things differently!’ This article was originally featured in the July 2012 issue of House and Leisure.