With north-facing sea views taking in the depth and breadth of the dramatic False Bay coastline, Simon’s Town sometimes appears to be a forgotten pearl on the Western Cape’s property map. Perhaps this is because, at about an hour’s slow drive along a winding coastal road from Cape Town, it’s just out of easy commuting distance. Yet it’s this distance that makes it special: it is not somewhere that most Capetonians visit regularly, so a sunny day here at any time of the year feels like a holiday.
‘I like Simon’s Town because of its village-like intimacy and friendliness,’ says Englishman Brian Rodford who moved to South Africa from the UK with his partner, Anthony Meyer, 10 years ago. They used to visit Simon’s Town only on Saturdays and Sundays (see House and Leisure October 2010), but those weekends became longer and longer until they decided to leave their other home in Constantia in favour of a larger, permanent space here.
As a spatial designer, Anthony quickly saw the potential of the ageing bungalow perched on the hillside outside the town, and quickly set to work ripping out the pine-clad interior walls and the false ceiling to reconfigure the home into a ‘classically contemporary’ open-plan space that they compartmentalised into different living areas, using waist-high joinery and a few carefully selected decor pieces.
‘I started by simplifying, and making the space more relevant to modern requirements,’ says Anthony of the original home, which was a hodgepodge of separate rooms with small windows. ‘I also wanted it to have a bespoke element, so I used lots of solid wood.’
Having reconfigured several spaces while living in London, Anthony and Brian started Meijford Design when they arrived in South Africa. Offering a turnkey design service that reimagines existing spaces and conceptualises new ones, they are experts at considering and incorporating detail in a home. A large part of what they do is to make high-end, custom-designed joinery, created specifically for each space. Their work is subtle – the beauty is in the way the finished room works. As Brian says about this home, now that it is completed, ‘I love the way each carefully planned window captures a unique and exquisite view.’ There are no grand gestures or double-volume statements – just exceptional quality. It’s no wonder they like to be involved in each project from planning through to the final touches.
A decked bridge connects the road with the house, which was built on a steep slope. It’s here that you can expect an enthusiastic welcome from their four dogs, Sally, Ella, Lucy and Michael – the main reasons why a larger space was needed when Simon’s Town became their permanent home.
From the front door, as from all the upstairs rooms, you are immediately struck by the expansive view. It’s not unusual to see southern right whales breeching below or pods of dolphins swimming by. So as not to detract from this, each space is defined by low pieces of furniture or bespoke joinery. This enhances the sense of space, and helps to create a ‘gentle, tranquil’ feeling.
Dog-friendly whitewashed pine floors lead out onto a large deck, and they can live with the doors wide open, for most of the year. The house is protected from the southeaster and northwester winds that blast other parts of the coastline.
The focus turns inwards when the sun dips. Anthony loves ambient lighting and, over the years, they have collected several beautiful lamps. At sunset, the lights come on, each controlled by a central automation system, so the effect can be tweaked.
‘It’s a beautiful mix of sea, garden and mountain vistas,’ says Anthony. What more could one ask for?
This article was originally featured in the December 2012 issue of House and Leisure.