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A thoughtfully restored fisherman’s cottage by La Grange Interiors founder Sumari Krige

An ode to the wild beauty of the West Coast, this calming space in Varswaterbaai tells an authentically South African design story

By Thobeka Phanyeko  | February 10, 2022 | Travel Leisure

Located in a small, secure private estate, zoned as a nature reserve, just 5km from Paternoster, one of the oldest fishing villages on the West Coast of South Africa, this pacific family home is one of 11 houses (on land that comprises 20 plots). The property was built in 1986, and Sumari shares her clients acquired it 10 years ago, ‘for its unique, private, secluded, quiet, rugged West Coast vernacular. There are so few houses, you hardly hear or see your neighbours, yet it is a close-knit community that holds nature and conserving the true spirit of the West Coast dear.

Photography by Elsa Young

Responding to the clients’ desire for a getaway, she created a home away from home, ‘a tranquil place to recharge outside their busy lives. It is mostly just the two of them, but there will be times when three generations are there at once.’ The brief was to update its furniture and fittings while retaining it as a holiday home. Easy, comfortable living was crucial. True to her signature style, Sumari combined neutral tones with layered textures and rustic accent pieces. She says good design is like a breath of fresh air. ‘It is like a harmonious sound, it is about balance and having the freedom to create anything you wish, and it considers visual discernment, which I feel no rule or guideline can replace.’ Paramount to her work: comfort supplants overly designed interiors. She adds that no structural changes were made during the renovation.

Photography by Elsa Young

The serene nature of the location ties into the design, ensuring functionality for everyday living. It is a beach house, so nothing is overly precious or breakable. Expanding on her approach, Sumari says she layered textured rugs on screed cement floors and covered open wardrobes with light embroidered or printed linen curtains. ‘The original sanitaryware and brass taps were retained; the beautiful patina on the brass taps is priceless,’ says Sumari. Natural stone from the surroundings used in the initial building process was preserved and added texture and context to the interiors. The indoor lounge revolves around an open hearth, used throughout the year to not only warm the house but give it atmosphere and ambience, ‘a place where many, many hours of conversation take place’.

Photography by Elsa Young

With raw materials and a continued hum of nature in mind, ‘we further incorporated the elements of the original structure using a subtle colour scheme of earthy fabric tones that run throughout, brought to life with vibrant pops of colour and simple patterns.’ Sumari also used inviting blues and greens from the surrounding West Coast inside, ‘yet graphic patterns in certain rooms give it a quirky edge, a departure from the typical blue-and-white beach interior.’ She says the rooms are small and comfortable yet practical, a key concept in her design. ‘It is a home, not a showcase, so we did not waste space or use pieces for interest or “design” – everything has a purpose. There are four en-suite bedrooms and a dorm for the owners’ four grandchildren, a kitchen-cum-open-plan dining area, a lounge that hugs the hearth and a family TV room in one of the roof nooks upstairs.’

Photography by Elsa Young

Custom and unique furniture pieces are visually appealing, but Sumari insists, ‘neither these nor the interiors compete with the landscape – the unspoiled, rugged, natural surroundings come first. Elaborating on her decor choices, she says the fabrics have an element of calm yet playfulness. ‘The two headboards in the bedroom, for example, are different heights, and the fabric features graphic brushstrokes, while white and blue headboards in another room might remind you of crashing waves.’ What Sumari has achieved here – rustic, coastal, timeless – is a home that is both in and of a place, exuding a natural calmness that extends out of a truly untamed landscape.

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