SUNDAY TIMES - Bore to awe: colour & pattern injected personality into this Bakoven beach house
Sunday Times Decor By Dominique Herman/, 2017-03-19 00:00:00.0

Bore to awe: colour & pattern injected personality into this Bakoven beach house

The plastic and wire ceiling light that looks like a giant hat is by French designer Constance Guisset. The 'knot' tiles in emerald around the fireplace are by Popham Design. The Tuareg leather and grass woven carpet is from Mauritania; the Bamileke stool from Cameroon; and the throws, ottoman and pillows from Malawi.
Image: Greg Cox/

In the blues and greens, the vintage wicker and the African art, the many moods of the ocean wash like waves over this globe-trotting family's dream home in Cape Town

The sea plays a focal role in Ashley Maddox's home - and not only because it features a 180-degree view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Each of the upstairs rooms has been painted to match the spectrum of blues and greens that the family has seen in the sea since their arrival in South Africa.

"When we bought the house, it was all white everywhere - very stark with big, white, pouffy, shabby chic-type couches. You can create so much personality just with colour," says Ashley, standing in the bright turquoise guest bedroom.

The cerulean shade in the main bedroom was inspired by a studio visit to South African artist Paul Senyol (a large painting of his hangs in the downstairs entrance).

"Before we moved here from France, I was looking for inspiration in South African design and there were two artists I really loved. One was Paul and the other was Andrzej Urbanski.

"I had no idea that they are both from Cape Town and are represented by the same gallery."

The walls are a stormy blue in the guest bedroom overlooking the ocean, which is an appropriate choice considering the adjacent door opens to a balcony and the sound of the roaring waves.

Down the hall on the landing hangs a photograph by Karine Laval of two girls in the water in France.

It was a wedding present from Ashley to her husband "in honour of taking the plunge".

Downstairs, the porthole windows on the front door and in the kitchen carry a nautical theme, as do the patterned, handmade Moroccan tiles featuring a looping blue line up the outside of the house.

Long-time friends Samuel and Caitlin Dowe-Sandes of Marrakech-based Popham Design gave the family the tiles as a house-warming present. Ashley says it took "forever" to piece them together like a giant puzzle.

The porthole window in the kitchen is a nod to the home's nautical theme. Image: Greg Cox/

The kids' chairs are a Belgian vintage shop buy. Image: Greg Cox/

The Loop-di-loop handmade tiles are by Popham Design. The garden has been designed by Franchesca Watson. All the plants are from the fynbos kingdom and are native to Cape Town. The walkway down the stairs and on the path to the beach was redone with sand mixed in with cement and crushed shells. Image: Greg Cox/

The floors that were buckling when they moved in are now flat as a lake, and feature an assortment of items sourced from all over Africa. "If it's not African , it's French - all the French stuff we brought with us."

To co-exist with the vintage wicker and lighting from France, Ashley made an effort to find things that were made by hand somewhere in Africa: the tiles and carpets and the Fez Pom Pom blankets are from Morocco; the grass and leather woven carpets are from Mauritania.

There are baskets from Zambia, Kenya and Uganda; shells from Madagascar; wax fabrics from the Ivory Coast, and a vintage headdress from Nigeria. There are chairs, carpets and throws from Malawi; glassware from Swaziland; plates, bowls, beach towels and linen from South Africa, and a pink feather headdress from Cameroon.

The day bed and wicker and metal tube chairs are by Mies van der Rohe, purchased at a Los Angeles vintage shop; the table is by Kartell. Image: Greg Cox/

The vintage day bed is by Mies van der Rohe; the bedside table is from Mud Studio; the Malawian carpet is from Ashanti Design; the pillows are by People of the Sun in Malawi. Image: Greg Cox/

"All the colour and pizzazz are from here. I prefer living with things that have a bit of soul; things that are simple and well designed and have a story to them." She mentions a hand-woven basket as an example: "A handmade wastepaper basket is an impossible luxury in Paris, unless it's been imported from Africa."

As a student at Princeton University, Ashley's African politics professor mentioned the "African bug" - some people were just bitten by it, he said. And so it was for Ashley when she visited SA for the first time to observe the elections in 1994. "It was a life-changing experience," she says.

After graduation, she returned to SA as a Fulbright scholar. She lived in Camps Bay, but Bakoven was her favourite spot, and she returned in the intervening years for holidays there.

The carpet is from Morocco; the cabinet is a Børge Mogensen design; the table is from a Belgian vintage shop. Image: Greg Cox/

Ashley Maddox and son Roo on the beach in Bakoven, a stone's throw from her house. Image: Greg Cox/

Mutual friends introduced Ashley to her husband when they were both living in LA. Then the couple moved to Paris for a six-year stint where they established a portfolio of stylish rental apartments under the banner "Where I'd Stay".

"A lot of things magically came to a close at the end of 2014, and that's when we decided we should have this great adventure," she says. So they left Paris and landed in Cape Town.

Ashley's home is available for holiday rentals through