Every house has a personality, shaped by the spirit of its occupants or by its location, or both. But sometimes a new approach is required in order to bring out its best qualities: an addition here, an update there – even, perhaps, complete gutting. When local designer Sue Bond was introduced to this house in Clifton, she was captivated by its magnificent setting, its clear potential and its soul.
‘I get huge satisfaction when changing spaces for clients,’ she says of her interior-design business. Despite the aura of glamour often associated with it, it can be an unsentimental vocation. There’s plenty of heavy lifting, she says, usually accompanied by the pressure of a handover deadline. ‘There’s a lot of moving and carrying and rearranging, but the results are deeply gratifying.’
‘There is so much of me in this house. From the outset it was a home with a heart. I’ve become deeply attached to it’ Sue Bond
The front doors are the originals, which Sue painted black for a dramatic touch
A corner of the living room. The artwork is by Australian artist Simon Birch
The Atlantic Ocean takes centre stage in the Clifton home of interior designer Sue Bond. The fabric on the dining chairs is Thibaut from St Leger & Viney and Design Team. The carpet is by Tirmal in Cape Town
In this house, which was to be her family’s home while their new Fresnaye house was being remodelled, Sue made a very big change to the spaces. It was then an old-style Georgian house, with separate rooms, traditional doors and casement windows. But it had a sizeable footprint, and its appeal was enhanced by truly majestic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.
The renovation that took place over the next 14 months was painstaking and slow, requiring patience and expertise, as well as a grasp of the demands of the Atlantic Seaboard site.
Sue reimagined the whole property; as she does for all her clients, she undertook the entire project management. She also commissioned, sourced or bought ‘every single thing’. The work involved ‘much attention to detail,’ she says, ‘remaking the original cornice design, refurbishing some original elements and installing custom lead-lite windows. The magicians in this house were the painters from Forrest Paint.’
What has emerged is a home with a classically elegant exterior, dressed with gracious columns, broad patios, a courtyard and balconies overlooking the swimming pool. With a northwest orientation, it provides views over the ocean from every room. On the ground floor, the former formal arrangement of rooms has given way to a generous, open-plan space, encompassing a dining area, a formal lounge, a kitchen (plus the standard ancillary rooms – scullery, laundry, and so forth) and an entertainment room. There’s also a suite for her university-student son. The casements have become floor-to-ceiling expanses of glass, allowing for uninterrupted views over the sea.
Two bedroom suites with lounges occupy the upper storey. Here, too, is Sue’s study, where her desk competes for attention with the Atlantic beyond. For the interior, she chose a predominantly monochrome palette. This effect creates a quietly dramatic space, offset by touches that celebrate the modern and the unusual. With a client list spanning locations as far afield as Spain, Belgium and Hong Kong, and a diary that attests to travels almost everywhere on the planet, Sue has brought a breadth of inspiration that informs her decor style. There’s a whisper of a foreign land in every corner. At the same time, the artefacts, art pieces and fabrics reflect something of the essence of Africa. Art is exuberantly present throughout the home. South African artists are well represented, from William Kentridge and Deborah Bell to Abe Opperman, as well as artistic emigrés who’ve come to South Africa and stayed, such as Arizona native Gary Stephens. ‘There is so much of me in this house,’ says Sue thoughtfully. ‘From the outset it was a home with a heart. I’ve become deeply attached to it.’