House Tour

IN PICS | A chic mix of new and old makes this Cape home timeless

This garden cottage in Stellenbosch honours its past with sentimental touches, but thanks to its functional design it looks firmly to the future

22 November 2020 - 00:03 By Vicki Sleet
The open-plan living area of this Stellenbosch cottage embraces retro style – but in an unpretentious and comfortable fashion.
The open-plan living area of this Stellenbosch cottage embraces retro style – but in an unpretentious and comfortable fashion.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

The town of Stellenbosch is the second oldest in SA and it is unusual to still find purely residential properties in the heart of the oak-lined central historical district, where some buildings are centuries old.

But when Peet and Mary-Jane (MJ) Hunt discovered their neighbouring property was on the market, it was sold to them with a particular proviso from the original owner of 40 years.

"The owner was only willing to sell it to us if we promised not to develop it or resell it to the commercial developers in town. This suited us perfectly since we also wanted to keep the street strictly residential and, of course, because we're right next door.

She was happy about our plan to construct a cottage for guests or my folks when they come to visit," says MJ, who met Peet while they were students at the town's university.

The garden cottage maximises privacy with the patio positioned on the furthest side of the property.
The garden cottage maximises privacy with the patio positioned on the furthest side of the property.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

"We love living here. We both have offices nearby so walking to work is a pleasure and meeting up with friends after work is also great. Stellenbosch also welcomes a ton of tourists every year and this makes for a very vibrant, fun atmosphere," she says.

While the couple commissioned an architect to design and maximise the 100m² space, it was interiors whizz Charlotte Collins who brought the cottage in line with their vision.

"We wanted it to be a place of relaxation for my parents, somewhere special that made them feel welcome and happy but also slightly spoiled, like they were on holiday," says MJ.

The couple gave Collins free rein for the décor, although there was a clear understanding between them.

"We wanted a style that would mix new and old but would remain timeless; we love Charlotte's style so we were confident she'd produce something special and she did, she absolutely nailed it," says MJ.

MJ agrees that the cottage, with its two bedrooms and en suite bathrooms, open-plan kitchen and dining area, is a little like a modern barn — albeit with a slew of super-styled details and delightfully modern retro elements too.

The colour palette of the open-plan kitchen embraces a country look while the steel frame windows are a wonderfully modern touch
The colour palette of the open-plan kitchen embraces a country look while the steel frame windows are a wonderfully modern touch
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
The cottage features an open plan kitchen and living area. Colour has cleverly been used to 'divide' the space into dedicated zones.
The cottage features an open plan kitchen and living area. Colour has cleverly been used to 'divide' the space into dedicated zones.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

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The open-plan kitchen's most striking feature is an industrial table base and stools.
The open-plan kitchen's most striking feature is an industrial table base and stools.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
In the kitchen, a vintage butler’s sink is perfectly partnered with ultra modern black taps.
In the kitchen, a vintage butler’s sink is perfectly partnered with ultra modern black taps.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

Collins, a well-known Cape Town-based decorating maven, has an ability to spot a treasure from a mile away and many of the pieces she incorporated into the space have been revived from dusty junk shop finds into treasures that have pride of place.

"My parents love quite ornate antiques and Charlotte managed to incorporate some while still keeping things fresh and modern," says MJ.

Other old-yet-new touches include the terrazzo tiles and slabs used in the bathrooms; a fully upholstered bed that reimagines a classic retro look, and a colour palette that's a little bit country and a whole lot of cool.

The upholstered headboard brings a sense of a tailored hotel experience to the main bedroom.
The upholstered headboard brings a sense of a tailored hotel experience to the main bedroom.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
A stunning wall covering cleverly camouflages the wardrobes in the main bedroom.
A stunning wall covering cleverly camouflages the wardrobes in the main bedroom.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

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The bathroom adjoining the main bedroom is retro-chic with modern touches.
The bathroom adjoining the main bedroom is retro-chic with modern touches.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
Terrazzo tiles are a painterly and pretty addition to the walk in shower.
Terrazzo tiles are a painterly and pretty addition to the walk in shower.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

It's clear that Collins uses her craft to tell a compelling story wherever she can, especially with found or reimagined furniture and objects.

Other playful details like collections of old polo mallets and mid-century modern swivel armchairs display Collins's delight in tongue-in-cheek nods to the past — it's a wonderful way to bridge the gap between two generations who clearly get enjoyment from the same space.

The second bedroom is dressed in soothing greens and blues.
The second bedroom is dressed in soothing greens and blues.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
A bespoke vanity graces the bathroom adjoining the second bedroom.
A bespoke vanity graces the bathroom adjoining the second bedroom.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

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"What I love is how Charlotte managed to make a relatively small cottage seem spacious and luxurious, but also familiar, comfortable and welcoming and in a style that is totally unpredictable but not jarring," says MJ.

"I think our whole family will continue to be pleased with the outcome for many years to come. It's absolutely timeless." - Bureaux