Victorian Family Home
Posted: 26 December 2011
Text Vicki Sleet Production Laureen Rossouw Photographs Russell Smith ‘I prefer homes with a sense of history; maybe it’s to do with the fact that I moved house 13 times as a child,' says Estelle Scholtz, who has shared a vast Victorian home in Cape Town’s City Bowl with her sons, Marius, 18, and Alexis, 16 – and their visiting friends – for the past three-and-a-half years. 'This place has a definite solidity to it, and our house is a bit of a railway station; there are always people coming in and out,’ she adds. ‘I don’t like an open-plan house. It’s nice for everyone to have their own pockets of privacy, especially now that the boys are older.’ Dating back to the 1800s, the house is thought to have been an overnight stop for officers in the British cavalry, which might explain the various rooms of differing sizes that lead off the timeworn wooden staircase. Rooms that once would have provided lodgings for visiting officers now offer plenty of room for the family, as well as Estelle’s team of crafters and sewers who help with the production of bespoke items for her homeware and soft furnishings label, Rapt Living. Having previously lived in a contemporary space in the southern suburbs, Estelle says this rambling home, with its vast double-volume ceilings and generous sense of space feels ‘just right’. When the Scholtz brood moved in, there wasn’t much that needed to be done, other than a coat of paint here and there: ‘For now I’m into buttery creams and sludgy blues and greys,’ says Estelle. Furniture that had followed them over the years was reupholstered or painted, and a vast art and photographic art collection (much of it by Estelle herself) configured. Decorative objects are few, with Estelle choosing function above all: ‘For me, collecting things means collecting dust!’ Yet there’s ample evidence that this is a home that’s lived and loved in. A passion for rugby (‘we’re mad about it in this house’) is revealed with tattered clippings of match-winning tries stuck to the fridge, while the two Jack Russells, Jo and Joan, and Lulu, the poodle, have their own plump, customised cushions perched on a linen-covered couch.Estelle’s downstairs studio takes up one of the two living-room areas, and is both a social and creative hub, summing up the energy that’s in abundance in this welcoming home. The large table is a central shared space, with a plethora of reference books, pots of pencils, house plans for Estelle’s latest design project and homework-in-progress scattered across it. In every room is evidence of Rapt Living creations, such as the pair of oversized cushions in the softest grey melange T-shirt fabric in the upstairs TV room, pleated to give them that bespoke edge. Or the elegant upholstered ottoman covered in hand-cut hadenga work, designed by Estelle and made by her team of Zimbabwean crafters skilled in this tradition of embroidery passed down from mother to daughter. Given Estelle’s background – she was a senior designer at Rosenwerth for 11 years and has been a fashion editor on a magazine and a stylist on local and international film shoots – no doubt this marriage of fashion and decor was inevitable, and thanks to the interest she’s getting from the industry, it’s a move she’s made not a moment too soon. ‘My work is an antidote to all the “made in China” stuff you see. My mantra is “hit them with handmade”, ’ she laughs. With Estelle’s new focus taking up much of her time, it’s essential that the space she and her family live in is easy and welcoming, and by combining comfort with classics, she’s created just that. ‘I loathe the term “interior decorating”, ’ she adds. ‘Making a home is so much more interesting to me; it’s a process that changes constantly.’ Rapt Living, 021-424-8580, raptliving.com. This home was originally featured in the November 2009 issue of House and Leisure.