Contrast abounds in this Umhlanga home
This KwaZulu-Natal house is all about contrast. The first thing that strikes you is the juxtaposition of graphic lines and organic curves, followed by thoroughly contemporary monochromatic motifs that mingle with textured, natural elements and the surrounding vegetation. The overall effect has a simultaneously modern and inviting feel.
Architect Kevin Lloyd and interior designer Clinton Savage designed the home in collaboration with its owners some years ago, and the result is a house rich in architectural detail that features unexpected materials such as copper and concrete on the walls, and eye-catching timber details both indoors and out. Light and space were priorities, and high ceilings and expansive doors, which tuck away completely, create an airy atmosphere. ‘Recently, we decided that some elements needed an update and we called on Ruth Duke of Ruth Duke Interior Design to work her magic,’ say the homeowners. ‘Colour and lighting were crucial to the brief, and we wanted to add detail and evolve the existing base.’
Duke began by assessing the way in which the family’s needs have changed since they originally designed their abode. ‘The three children have grown up, so we could change the functionality of spaces as well as add some texture and depth to give it a reboot,’ she says. ‘The homeowners both have a highly attuned sense of design and style, and they travel extensively. They know exactly what they want, so it was a great collaboration.’
Although the living area is open plan, it is cleverly demarcated into distinct zones with changes in the levels of floor and ceiling. While designing it, the homeowners carefully considered how they would live in the house, and a kitchen table where the family and guests could gather while meals were prepared was a must – as was a cosy TV room. ‘The wallpaper of family moments in here is special and personal,’ the homeowners say, demonstrating that style and sentiment don’t always need to be mutually exclusive.
‘The furniture in the living area is classic South African contemporary modern,’ says Duke. ‘The pieces are tonally neutral with the odd bit of colour, and accessories and soft furnishings are kept to a minimum to allow the furniture to make a statement.’ The interiors blend seamlessly into the outdoor zones, where timber screens and pergolas create intriguing patterns against the backdrop of sea and sky. A bar and dining area lead on to a concrete daybed, which invites repose next to the pool.
‘I am, in my soul, a gardener,’ says Duke, who updated the outdoor space by adding planters, reupholstered cushions and new accessories. ‘We also planted a Erythrina latissima, or coral tree, to create a focal point on the perfectly flat front lawn,’ she says. Reflective surfaces inside beckon the outdoors in, with mirrors echoing the greenery and sunlight bouncing off copper wall panels.
The house is just as visually stimulating at night, with considered lighting used to great effect. ‘We love the outdoor lights, which are located in columns of small stones that produce a lovely filtered effect while appearing very earthy in the daylight,’ say the homeowners. The interior light fixtures are also as attractive during the day as they are lit up after dark. Presiding above the dining room table is a collection of tubular steel rods finished with rounded bulbs that Duke designed and had manufactured by Morgan Associates, while a gilded lattice fitting from Cobinlight beautifully illuminates the kitchen table.
It is clear that the homeowners have an appreciation for art, and standout pieces by Olga du Toit and Leila Jeffreys bring much of the colour to the space. They have also selected items of furniture by top South African designers such as Egg Designs, Okha and Wiid Design that hold their own in the bold rooms.
Upstairs, the main bedroom and bathroom have been conceptualised with simplicity as the guiding principle, allowing the views of the rooftop garden and the sea to star. Neutral colours and natural textures create a tranquil hideaway where Duke has added stylish touches including patterned scatter cushions, jewel-toned glassware and a cluster of copper pendants in place of a traditional lamp.
It is Duke’s deft touch at layering interesting details like these that ensures that, although sleek and modern in many respects, this contemporary house remains a welcoming home.