It’s a rare case for an interior designer to find and then immediately occupy a home that fits as comfortably as might, say, a well-tailored suit, requiring little more than a discreet nip and tuck as if it were indeed a bespoke purchase. While the designer’s professional instinct might be to reinvent and refit as a matter of course, the discovery of a space that feels so impeccably made to measure can also come as something of a relief. This was certainly the case for Ockert Dixon who, ahead of relocating to Cape Town for a spell, had spent hour upon hour of screen time browsing property sites. He was repeatedly drawn back to one of the earlier houses spotted during his search: a century-old worker’s cottage to which had been added a sensitively realised extension, with simple but immaculate finishes and details. ‘I liked it when I saw it online. But when I walked in I really fell in love with it. At that stage I didn’t have the energy to buy anything that needed renovating,’ Ockert explains.
With projects taking him from Johannesburg to Franschhoek, Abu Dhabi to Seychelles – and now to Switzerland with his husband – the designer required a more manageable, lock-up-and-go space that would double as a satellite studio for his Gauteng-based business, Jacket Interiors. Centrally located in a peaceful corner of upper Claremont, close to a park for exercising the couple’s two dogs, and in gentle strolling distance of restaurants and cafés, the house has proven a versatile and charming stopgap. While it might appear deceptively compact from street level, within its doors the space expands to encompass generous lounge, dining and living areas, merging easily with the open-plan kitchen. On the ground floor, the transition between the original structure and the new building, which ascends another two levels, has been seamlessly achieved, while celebrating the heritage features of the former, from its ornate ceilings to the fanlights and tiled floor.