Far From The Madding Crowd
Errol Solomon knows a thing or two about style. A career as head of store design and visual merchandising has seen this Capetonian develop a highly individual aesthetic, honed by years of international travel and experience – a prerequisite for a person whose job requires an appreciative eye for all things attractive and interesting.
So it’s no surprise, then, that when there’s a gap in his travels and people-filled schedule, he likes to hang his jacket in this tastefully serene house on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard. He bought the house, in the quiet upper avenues of Fresnaye, some eight years ago as a ‘fixer-upper’, and set about doing extensive renovations on a limited budget, adding a custom-designed kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and garage, and selecting the decor.
It wasn’t Errol’s first makeover home (and it won’t be his last, he laughs): the influences on his personal style are ever-changing and he therefore loves nothing better than to buy a property and make it his own. With this house, he wanted, simply, to make a refuge that also felt like a holiday home for himself and his partner, Louis. To this end, he has created a sense of abundant space and uncluttered flow. The entire ground floor is devoted to open-plan relaxed living: from the kitchen and dining area to the two inter-leading lounges. Ideal for entertaining and all-season comfort, one lounge has a fireplace for the cold winter months; the other seems to extend almost into the swimming pool outside.
Every window or glass door is framed by foliage – a palm tree, a giant shrub – or offers a glimpse of water. The soothing, largely white palette is accented by gentle splashes of colour in all the right places: on Oriental carpets, scatter cushions and arresting contemporary artworks.
‘Art and colour are two of my passions,’ says Errol. ‘I choose what goes into the house very carefully, because everything needs to “fit”!’ A tour of his home quickly confirms that he and Louis are indeed meticulous curators. There are Babylonstoren olive-oil jars in the kitchen, ceramic figurines watching over the computer in the study, and French-influenced ‘soap-taps’ in the bathrooms. Every detail is either purposeful and beautiful – or both.
In addition to being the place where he can indulge his foodie hobby, the kitchen is one of his favourite spots ‘because it has a semi-industrial feel, yet there’s a measure of modernity to it,’ he says. It represents a collaboration typical of Errol, who co-opts talented friends and colleagues wherever possible – in this case, designer Piers Mansfield-Scadden. Its functionality is enhanced by distinctly glamorous touches, such as the marble-topped wooden table, the glossy splashback and the sleek, handle-free cupboards. Varied textures provide dramatic interest: marble, a chalk-board, pot taps and brass runners combine in a sort of ‘Conran meets café society’ style – just begging guests to feel right at home.
By contrast, the upper storey, reached by an ash-wood staircase, is a more private, intimate space, accommodating three en-suite bedrooms. The main bedroom en suite is separated from the bathroom by a low wall, the other two are enclosed by glass and Californian shutters. There’s also a study and Errol’s massive, ‘dream’ walk-in wardrobe. Here, too, the contemporary and the timeless combine: the rooms are carefully and spaciously designed, with sleek mod cons co-existing alongside shutters, louvres and linen curtains. Each room has a view of water – either the Atlantic Ocean in the distance or, from one of the balconies, the pool below.
Essentially a contemporary South African home, it also whispers of foreign lands. Since travel is such an integral part of Errol’s job, he and Louis revisit the same favourite markets and stores overseas to source the next batch of objets to grace the interiors.
This is a lovely home in every respect – tranquil yet charming and characterful. Until he embarks on his next property challenge, it’s everything he wants.
Originally published in HL May 2014