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Letter from the Editor

House & Garden South Africa Editor-in-Chief, Piet Smedy, introduces the February/March 2022 issue

By Piet Smedy  | January 24, 2022 | Travel Leisure

Selling sanctuary has become quite a fashionable concept in the world of homeware marketing of late, with what feels like every major retailer purveying a more mindful, self-care-centric modus vivendi. And sure, there is some merit here. I mean, who does not feel better curled up on a Kagan-esque bouclé sofa with an oud candle burning – but is it all just domestic wellness window dressing?

For the concept of ‘sanctuary’ to exist – which I am defining here as a space that, through its physical architecture, evokes the very non-physical feelings of safety, calm and even healing – we have to not just believe but also agree that what we build (and how decorate) can and will directly impact our collective psyche. Sure, it seems straight forward enough, anyone who has ever stepped into, say, Notre Dame or Angkor Wat can attest to feeling that undeniable, if unnamable, mix of gravitas and serenity and that thing where you do not feel so alone in the cosmos, all in one. So, if we agree then that sanctuary is possible to create, the real question is: How do you create it at home?

It is a big question that, unsurprisingly, does not yield one definitive answer. For American designer and architect Noa Santos, whose monastic southern California residential project stars on this double issue’s cover, sanctuary is the product of simplicity – from large, unfussy spaces to a minimalist approach to materials (for this house, he used only three, calling them his ‘holy trinity’). In Melbourne, designer Tamsin Johnson follows a similar course, immersing a tree house-structure home into its surroundings while maintaining a neutral interior scheme. Closer to home, designers Sumari Krige and Bryce Henderson, of La Grange Interiors and Studio BHD respectively, rely on a direct link to South Africa’s natural, and often times quite complex, landscapes – through materials, textures and visual references – to create a grounded oneness with both site and context.

As many an Instagram lifestyle influencer will tell you, it is about the journey, not the destination – and maybe that is a little bit true this time. We are all looking for the same thing from our homes – sanctuary – and no matter what form that takes (for me, it is the Nancy Meyers soft life), I hope that this issue helps you on that journey.