The first thing I remember about the plot were the three trees in front of the house. A palm, a Norfolk Pine and a Pepper Tree. Totally unusual and charming but equally they felt in the right place. It immediately drew me to the house. Walking from one side to another we had a wonderful view of Table mountain. The house itself was sweet but a little uninspiring, in what is known locally as ‘cottage style’ but we could visualise what it could become.
Internally we kept the main ground floor footprint but took out all the internal walls, removed the ceiling, added a 2nd storey and a guest studio. We increased the footprint from 250m/2 to 400m/2 and added a huge amount of volume. Ceiling heights throughout are very tall, eleven metres at one point, eight metres in the main living area and six in our bedroom.
The house is made from a light steel frame which I loved working with but it presented a different set of challenges. There is little room for site adjustments so you have to trust your design and be very detailed in the information you provide the steel producers.
I knew about and was interested in a light steel framed building but hadn’t had a chance to work with it until now. It’s a much more environmentally friendly way of building and involves a lot less site work which was appealing to me. Most of the structure is pre-fabricated off site and then assembled very quickly when it arrives. It’s very exciting to watch it all go into place.
Getting the structural design right for the exposed trusses in the main living room took a lot of back and forth / negotiation with the engineer. It’s a big open space and we really wanted the height we had now which is a 30 degree pitch. We also wanted scissor trusses as we prefer the look. The house is not in the traditional style which is quite conservative architecturally. Its also painted charcoal so stands out a bit.
The wall on the south elevation in the living room is fully glazed with three metre tall glass doors at the bottom opening completely onto a covered external dining table which seats ten. With the doors open it has a wonderful feel of the house being open to nature and has the in-out flow we love.
Upstairs, the master bedroom and children’s bedroom are part of the new additional floor. Unlike the bold and striking palette of the ground floor has a soft and serene feel. In the master bedroom we have white washed floors under a bespoke four-poster bed which overlooks the trees outside. We have added gentle texture whilst the ombre green curtains have a feel of bringing the many surrounding trees into the space. The extra deep balcony off the bedroom serves as a peaceful reading space with sun loungers at one end and chairs and table at the other. There is a beautiful palm tree happily growing over the balcony and a tall Norfolk pine beyond which provides shade.
We used a local joiner to make up to my designs the kitchen units, walk in wardrobes, our bed, dining table, a desk, and a drinks bar.
From the UK we shipped half a container of furniture and some art. Some we sourced for the new house (a beautiful pair of chairs from Kempton) but the rest was things we already had. Having moved four times in the last 6 years we had various pieces furniture and fittings in storage, some of which we’d almost forgotten about, so it was great to go through it all and incorporate pieces that worked.
Most of the furniture and art was sourced in South Africa though including; Pezula Interiors, Weytlands, La Grange, Block & Chisel, Karu Collection and The Gate House to name but a few. We’re still furnishing the house and collecting new pieces as we go.
Ask Rory Macpherson your question
Ask Rory Macpherson your question