Bureaux House Kommetjie

By Tracy Chemaly
Styling Sven Alberdin
Photographs Greg Cox, Bureaux

Tucked away in a grove of milkwood trees in a small village outside Cape Town, this coastal home blends in with its natural surroundings while offering its owners a peaceful retreat.

It was a series of chance encounters that led to Jens and Marie Glasenapp building a holiday home in Cape Town’s surfing village of Kommetjie. The couple, who lives on the French island of Réunion, began travelling to South Africa to encourage their three children to practice English.

During one of these countrywide road trips, while waiting for his family outside Fisherman’s, a popular restaurant in Kommetjie, Jens, a German cardiologist, happened to meet Willi, an Austrian estate agent in the area. Conversing in their common lingua franca, the two men hopped into Willi’s car and went for a quick coastal drive. ‘I wasn’t interested in buying anything. I was just enjoying Willi’s company,’ Jens insists. ‘And I didn’t want to live in an estate,’ he says, referring to the way in which some South Africans reside in walled-up security complexes.

Bureaux House Kommetjie
Marie and Jens Glasenapp enjoy the lock-up-and-leave style of their Cape Town holiday home. Visiting their Kommetjie house a few times a year affords them a similar beach-and-mountain lifestyle to the one they’re accustomed to in Réunion, where they live with their three children the rest of the year.
The top storey master bedroom’s bay window affords spectacular mountain views from the bed. Fitted with cushioned inset seating, it’s the reflective space in which to enjoy the peaceful energy of the property. Wooden ‘screens’ inform the perimeter and act as a deterrent to trespassers. ‘We didn’t want any fences,’ says Jens of the property that is otherwise open to its surroundings.

An open piece of land did, however, pique his interest. ‘But Willi said it was “complicated”. It was not suitable for construction and had a peculiar triangular shape,’ Jens explains of the 388-square-metre plot that sits in the middle of a large piece of protected land vegetated mainly by indigenous milkwood trees. Jens’ wife Marie, a French midwife, was equally struck by the property when he took her to view the plot a few weeks later. The couple was determined to turn this ‘complicated’ piece of land into its dream escape for family and friends, and their offer to purchase was accepted.

With the help of Jens’ brother Torsten, a Berlin-based architect and partner at Müller Reimann, they designed a home that would become what Torsten describes as ‘compact, precise and focused’.

‘We just wanted a small, compact one-storey beach house,’ explains Jens of his simple brief to Torsten. But his brother insisted on going up another level to maximise the ocean and mountain views. The result is a 110-square-metre home, with a double-volume ceiling over the living area, a master bedroom situated above the garage, and a planted rooftop terrace open to the astounding panorama.

Bureaux House Kommetjie
A stairway leads up to the rooftop terrace where Jens and Marie can often be found exercising with a view.

Planning to visit Kommetjie at least twice a year, the Glasenapps intend to take full advantage of their love for mountain runs, surfing and kitesurfing in this very welcoming yet quiet seaside getaway. ‘The people of Kommetjie are very open, so it was surprisingly easy to make friends to share all sorts of activities,’ smiles Marie.

‘Our home is like an island between all the milkwood trees,’ says Jens, referencing the 1500-square-metre reserve surrounding the property. ‘It’s just a magical spot.’

The kitchen, designed by Tim Lewis, and manufactured by M & L Creative Kitchens, is a linear, one-wall set-up, similar to what the couple has in their Réunion home. ‘We’d originally wanted it to be all white, but with the grey of the floors and walls, it would have been too cold,’ says Jens of Marie’s choice to add touches of turquoise. Many a vegetarian meal is cooked here and enjoyed on the six-seater dining set from Weylandts. The Tam Tam light adds additional playfulness and colour to the open-plan space.

Bureaux House Kommetjie

The open-plan living area has been furnished with soft shades of colour that both contrast and blend with the grey walls. A couch and armchairs from Sofa Company maintain the blue-grey tonality, with mustard-coloured cushions and a green ottoman offering brighter pops.

Bureaux House Kommetjie

The master bedroom is positioned on the top storey of the home, above the garage, affording it spectacular mountain views from the bay window looking out from the bed. Here, a cushioned nook has been created for casual seating from which to enjoy this panorama.

Bureaux House Kommetjie

A bathroom is shared by the two bedrooms on the ground floor, its Boffi fittings keeping with the stylish look of the home.

Bureaux House Kommetjie

Sliding doors on opposite ends of the living area mean a constant connection with both sides of the garden, where indigenous plants and milkwood trees offer an abundance of greenery.

Bureaux House Kommetjie

The mountainside home overlooks Kommetjie’s 100-year-old Slangkop Lighthouse.

Kommetjie Lighthouse