houses

Renovated 1950s Home

Text Vicki Sleet Styling Sven Alberding Photographs Micky Hoyle As you shift gears to negotiate the steep hills at the top of Tamboerskloof in Cape Town, it’s hard to believe you’re just five minutes from the city. A donkey, a resident from the nearby farm (yes, a real, semi-urban farm) wanders by, and even potbellied pigs are known to traipse through the streets of the neighbourhood in search of treats. Amazingly, it’s absolutely still here too, the hubbub seemingly far away. It’s these rural attributes that Charl Mouton and Willie Meyburgh love most about where they live, along with the glorious view of the city below. And it’s in this setting where you’ll find the couple’s whitewashed hacienda-type house, fringed with a colourful garden, in which their contentedness (and that of their three Great Danes) finds completion. The couple had scoped it out while still living across the road. Looking at it now, the triple-storey dwelling is very much the polished contemporary home befitting a well-known renovator, project manager and interior decorator such as Charl – a picture of on-trend design detailing, fantastic art and cherished collectables. Charl describes their home as ‘a work in progress with a five-year plan’. Who’d have thought it was once the ‘hellhole’ he so vividly recalls? Built in the 1950s, it had later been divided into four different spaces, rented out separately and ‘each more depressing than the next’. He remembers overhearing a comment on the show-house day that ‘it would take someone very brave to tackle this project’. Naturally his interest was piqued, being adept at transforming spaces and having garnered a reputation for impressive house builds. The couple moved into their ‘ode to ugly’ and began the process of shaping it to suit their needs. The kitchen area was naturally top of the list – Willie, an anaesthetist, is an accomplished cook. (He’s a wine connoisseur too, so an outside shed was incorporated into the interior to house his extensive collection.) As you might expect, the kitchen is nothing short of a showstopper, with its sleek black-and-white tiled floors, twin central islands clad in design-forward Carrara marble, floating stainlesssteel shelves and an army of glinting copper pots, as ornamental as they are functional. ‘People in the 1950s built small rooms and the ceilings were quite low – I didn’t feel the need to change this,’ says Charl. ‘We like having different zones throughout the house.’ Their home has something of a European flavour and Charl has made clever use of scale, emphasising larger pieces like the impressive Pierre Cronje wooden armoire in the downstairs living room. Charl describes the couple’s style as ‘relatively classic’ and, when it comes to the interiors, says he prefers to keep things simple. Yet there’s an undeniable sense of glamour permeating the space, resulting from a combination of dark-stained parquet flooring, Persian rugs, plush velvet upholstery, beautiful antique pieces and the odd sparkling chandelier. ‘I love using colour,’ says Charl, ‘but I’m not overly committed to making very bold statements. If we want to create change, we move the artworks around.’ He does believe, he adds, that ‘a room isn’t finished unless there’s something black in it.’ He could be referring to jet-black Great Dane Zena (who’s been known to tear into the furniture – specifically an antique chair – when feeling neglected.) ‘Our attitude is that nothing is too precious that it cannot be replaced,’ says Charl. ‘For us to be happy our house has to be comfortable and user-friendly, and so far we’re very happy!’ Charl Mouton, 083-653-6444, bluemoon@iafrica.com.  

CHARL’S HOME TRUTHS

Our New Year’s resolution is to build a new, energy-efficient main bedroom on the roof. We also want to use rainwater and sun power, and grow more of our own vegetables. Big trends this year include a greener approach to living and supporting local industry. When we first moved in we painted the interiors dark brown – we’d wanted drama but all we got was depression. I realised that subtle colours work for me and I can always bring in drama with furniture and finishes. We spend the most time in our kitchen with good wine, food and friends. It’s a living, eating and entertaining room in one. We combined utilitarian (stainless steel) with classic (marble) and warmth and character (French oak). Our best dishes are slow-food oriented – like Willie’s slow roast in the oven with all the trimmings. Our favourite time of day is when we’ve both come home from work, it’s dusk and you can see across the city. Our 2011 shopping list includes a complete Apple system where iMac, Airbook, iPod and iPhone are combined. This home was originally featured in the January/ February 2011 issue of House and Leisure.