This home has presence. Whether due to location – she is a Franschhoek darling after all – or her resort-style charm, or a combination of both, she is a rare, earthy interpretation from a bygone era of graceful Cape monument style homes fused with cultural influences inspired by the owners’ exotic travels to faraway destinations.
A splendid creation by award winning Cape Town based architect Jenny Mills of Jenny Mills Architects, the property is both exciting and beautiful – as Jenny puts it “We are artists on a quest to sculpt existing spaces in co-operation with nature”.
A big part of this excitement is the element of surprise. Visitors who initially may have expectations of Cape Dutch magnificence are greeted by a polished wooden walkway leading to the entrance of the house framed by a beautiful set of oversized double barn style doors with studded detail found in the East. The exterior of the house is all whitewash and thatch with closely hewn hedging, topiary and silvery French lavender in a pretty garden setting. Inside, a double volume thatch ceiling and crisp white plaster instantly puts this house into the extraordinary category.
Entry to the house reveals the true beauty of timeworn wooden floors and the absence of ceilings with interestingly stitched thatch demands closer inspection. One feels instant, cool relief from the heat of the Cape sun that only real wood and thatch can provide. Kilim wall hangings and an oversized chandelier emphasize grandeur, and silver candelabras on a varnished wooden table and a crystal decanter suggest casual sophistication.
An authentic fireplace and a useful woodpile provide a warm focus for cooler weather with a sweeping chimney flue that accentuates the height and grandeur of the room with access to an interesting upstairs balcony. Neutral kilim rugs bear the weight of overstuffed couches in large flamboyant florals for country chic, but it is the interesting use of wooden side tables, tribal masks and wooden platters that lend African overtones to the setting.
The open plan living area bears a chunky wooden dining table that is clearly the handiwork of an artist of sorts with a set of accompanying wicker chairs. Texture is successfully put to work. An eccentric wooden ladder is evident at the door, quaintly crooked and charmingly authentic and reveals the personality of the inhabitants of the house. The area is designed around the kitchen, typically the heart of this home.
Not quite a Cape house, the delight of the unexpected makes a truly wonderful appearance in the bedroom and bathroom décor. The double bed with its soft canopy and cotton linen with horizontal stripes accentuate antique side tables and a wooden kist with its Eastern embellishments and decorative hinges. Soft brass lampstands add texture and the Eastern island-style look is complete with greenery from indoor foliage.
All the rooms have beautiful views. The architect has intended the flow of living to adapt to smaller and more personal spaces and expands to the full house, incorporating the guest rooms also. Smaller breakaway spaces offer delicious respite from the weather, with comfy reed and wicker seating and louvre door shutters that filter the sun and wind. High-gloss varnish takes wooden furniture to a sophisticated level with edgy style. These small details create a polished environment.
Outdoor living is accentuated with the geometry of pavers planted up with foliage, inspired by French gardens, to complement the beauty of the landscape. Roller blinds offer protection from the elements with the opportunity for meals taken outdoors with views of the swimming pool and beyond.
A his and hers bathroom with natural stone cladding and a wooden dressing room with hanging vanities provide a beautiful contrast with soft lighting and ever-practical storage space. These elements spell luxury and are captivating. Wicker, wood, mirrors and white walls convey promise of a sensual, tactile experience. And the bathroom lives up to that promise as the curious onlooker discovers.
Transparent views to the outdoors with the privacy of a stone feature wall and trees with greenery offer an exquisite outdoor spa experience, but indoors. A reed matting splash-back and two strikingly detailed pendant lamps suspended over the floating tub are enough to strike bliss in the heart of bathers.
For more bathing, the outdoor swimming pool area is reminiscent of a Balinese beach resort with its bamboo and thatch canopy and interesting wooden furniture from abroad. Reed screen detail provides ultimate shelter on windy days and is true to island-style design. The blue pool matches the sky and forms the backdrop and the foreground to this beautiful home with the mountain in the distance.
Collections of art and unusual objects celebrate country living in Franschhoek at its finest.