Inside Look

Chic Cape Town pad proves grey CAN be a cosy colour

With her penchant for moody, impactful spaces, a skilled interior design specialist has transformed her apartment into an industrial-chic urban bolthole

10 June 2018 - 00:01 By Jess Ross/Bureaux
The living area is showcase of tactility and contrasts. ‘There is enormous visual power in juxtaposing unexpected items and I carefully consider what to group together,’ says homeowner Kim Smith.
The living area is showcase of tactility and contrasts. ‘There is enormous visual power in juxtaposing unexpected items and I carefully consider what to group together,’ says homeowner Kim Smith.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux

Moody yet light, industrial yet cosy, this modern Cape Town apartment is the epitome of urban sophistication and a study in considered contrasts. "I was looking for a personal creative project and an inner-city loft has always been on my bucket list," says homeowner Kim Smith, "so I set out to build something that I would want to spend time in."

As director at Weylandts, Kim saw this as an opportunity to fashion a city bolthole unique to her style - and within close proximity of one of Cape Town's most sought-after districts. Plus, it's a shining example of the kind of modern design you'll find along the Bree Street strip, fringed with coffee shops, eateries and boutiques straddling the line between contemporary cool and classic chic.

When she first saw the space Kim was won over by its surrounds: "Magnificent views over the city, Devil's Peak, Table Mountain and Lion's Head." Of course, as is often the case with any new home, it wasn't perfect to begin with. "I gutted it and sorted out all the levels to make it more user friendly," says Kim.

Changing the flow and simplifying the layout, she also extended the mezzanine level and installed strong walls in place of the tin sheets that separated the home into living zones. "I have unlocked the best solution to space utilisation, incorporating my aesthetic style to create the ideal environment."

With the apartment's flow, the open living area that spills out onto the balcony, is the perfect spot for drinks.
With the apartment's flow, the open living area that spills out onto the balcony, is the perfect spot for drinks.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
Homeowner Kim Smith (pictured) used a striking pendant light to define the dining area within the open-plan living area.
Homeowner Kim Smith (pictured) used a striking pendant light to define the dining area within the open-plan living area.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
Against the grey facebrick, a collection of skulls creates an arresting wall feature in the open-plan living area.
Against the grey facebrick, a collection of skulls creates an arresting wall feature in the open-plan living area.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
'I love sitting on the balcony with its olive trees and jasmine creeper looking out across the city towards Table Mountain,' says homeowner Kim Smith.
'I love sitting on the balcony with its olive trees and jasmine creeper looking out across the city towards Table Mountain,' says homeowner Kim Smith.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
Homeowner Kim Stone has found places to create eye-catching displays everywhere - including under the stairs.
Homeowner Kim Stone has found places to create eye-catching displays everywhere - including under the stairs.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux

For all intents and purposes, this home should feel cold, enveloped as it is in shades of grey. However, layers of tactile materials, objets and furniture in complementary light hues are peppered throughout its three storeys, softening the steely tone and delivering a dose of warmth.

During the day, light floods the ground floor living area, courtesy of expansive windows that let a generous panorama of Table Mountain take your breath away. "I was cognisant of the environment and how the interior relates to the exterior, so I opted to stand the dark in opposition to the brightness of the outdoors," says Kim. "I wanted this space to reflect and play off the location of the apartment - city living at its best. It's bold, simple, masculine with an emphasis on design and comfort."

In the bedroom, double-volume ceilings and sliding doors that open onto a private balcony aid the sense of loftiness.
In the bedroom, double-volume ceilings and sliding doors that open onto a private balcony aid the sense of loftiness.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
Raw steel panelling divides the bedroom from the ensuite bathroom.
Raw steel panelling divides the bedroom from the ensuite bathroom.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
Homeowner Kim Smith's predilection for open shelving extends to the bathroom.
Homeowner Kim Smith's predilection for open shelving extends to the bathroom.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
For the bathroom Kim opted for a natural cement palette and installed an oversized open-plan shower.
For the bathroom Kim opted for a natural cement palette and installed an oversized open-plan shower.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux

Striking monochromatic interiors are Kim's calling card, and she's honed her sensitivity to tone and detail over years of fashioning the homes of others. At every turn you're met with a carefully curated vignette. Dark mahogany wood and steel finishes play off the bone-dry skulls and cascading greenery. "The abundance of indoor plants is critical to creating life and interest in this masculine space," says Kim.

It's all cleverly arranged but never overly decorated. "Simplicity and good design involve discipline, editing and layering. Often people put everything they like into one project and the result is schizophrenic."

Through the use of careful spatial arrangement, key design and art pieces from Weylandts become talking points: the factory-style pendants in the kitchen, a linen artwork that adds a splash of indigo, the molecule light at the breakfast table, an inviting shaggy graphic occasional chair ... 

"I selected beautiful, comfortable pieces that are timeless and work well in terms of proportion and materiality," explains Kim.

The top level of the three-storey space is the chill area.
The top level of the three-storey space is the chill area.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
An Eames chair invites you to sit and relax in the top-floor chill area.
An Eames chair invites you to sit and relax in the top-floor chill area.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
In curating the home’s many vignettes, homeowner Kim Smith sources items she connects with.
In curating the home’s many vignettes, homeowner Kim Smith sources items she connects with.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux
The home has many cosy nooks, and Kim used lighting and key items to enhance the sense of warmth.
The home has many cosy nooks, and Kim used lighting and key items to enhance the sense of warmth.
Image: Greg Cox/Bureaux

"While it has a universal language, this apartment has an African heartbeat," Kim adds, summing up its essence. And when it came to materials, the South African landscape was a strong influence, referenced in the animal hide rugs, artwork and artefacts.

In the bedroom, a pared-back zone geared to relaxation and calm, Kim used raw steel panelling to divide sleeping quarters from the bathroom. The mood shifts subtly between the two spaces with the bathroom taking on a tropical character. "I wanted to create a cocoon," says Kim, "private, peaceful and unexpected on top of this 10-storey building."

Each area of the home has spaces where you can hole up - from a perfectly placed chair for reading to a spot to sit and absorb the view in the bedroom. "The views over Bo-Kaap are special," she says, pointing out the vibrant homes of the neighbouring Cape Malay district. "I love the sound of the call to prayer from the mosques. This is my idea of city living: a central, stylish and spacious penthouse connected to the city."


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