IN PICS | This revamped Cape cottage epitomises gently worn sophistication
When interiors maven Charlotte Collins found a charming property in Greyton to renovate, she couldn’t have predicted she’d fall in love with the space and make it her own
This country cottage epitomises gently worn sophistication. It's a perfect blend of found and collected furniture, decorative details from yesteryear and a plethora of clever renovations and additions intended to look like they've been there forever. Its owner, Charlotte Collins, has created an idyllic country escape, where log fires after long walks in the fresh air are a part of everyday life.
Falling in love with properties is a perennial problem for seasoned renovators and decorators like Collins. Yet some finds take hold of one's heart more than others. That's what happened to this prolific talent, well known for her interiors prowess and her ability to help clients find their own decor language through her skilled lens.
Her weekend bolthole in Greyton has everything a country cottage should - it's a moody space with a suitably sizeable fireplace, there are captivating decor details without it feeling "too decorated", it's easy to maintain and beyond all it's cosy and comfortable, with inviting bedrooms and plenty of sofas and spaces begging to be lounged on or in.
Collins's journey to enjoying life in this tiny town some two-and-a-half hours from Cape Town was unplanned.
"I went to Greyton to help a friend with the interior of her home and had never even spent a night here. Originally my intention was to "flip" the house that I found (my friend is a transferring attorney and convinced me to buy it) but as I got further into the project and spent time in the village I decided to keep it as a weekend spot," says Collins, who spent a year breathing life into and expanding what was once a rather nondescript space.
"Greyton is that quintessential country village - everyone is very friendly and knows your name - when I go into the hardware store they all ask why I haven't been."
The now two-storeyed home comes complete with three en-suite bedrooms plus a cottage in the garden, but it started life rather differently.
"When I first saw it, it was literally a box with one room for the bedroom, a tiny room off the side, one bathroom and a living area, and there was nothing in the roof. It took me just under a year to bring it to where it is now," she says.
Collins once worked on big advertising production sets and there's no doubt that it's this experience that makes her fairly fearless and incredibly resourceful in trying to create a look and feel that fits a brief for her clients; in this instance, she was the client.
She explains: "I wanted the staircase to look like it's been there for 100 years so I bought new scaffolding planks off Gumtree and traded them with builders across Cape Town for their old worn planks. My amazing carpenter then used these to build the staircase to connect the rooms in the roof and the downstairs part of the house."
Moments of utter ingenuity like this have helped her create a country cottage that has an enormous sense of substance and authenticity.
"I wanted to make the house what you would imagine the perfect little country cottage to look like, and I love how it reflects my love of all things salvaged. I feel that items with history can conjure up such a wonderful mood," she says.
Colour, of course, plays a huge role in Collins's life and work, and yet finding the shades that felt true to her ideals of rural bliss was not without its trials. The wood-panelled back wall (another clever old-yet-new Collins addition) is the perfect shade of green for a home with historic appeal.
"I took 10 tester pots to find it, and it was the last one I tried. In the pot it looked totally wrong but I was so sick of the process I thought let me give it a go anyway, and lo and behold it was the colour I had been searching for. Everyone is now obsessed with it," she laughs.
While her colour choices along with this find of a cottage sound like strokes of luck, there's no doubt the end results are a consequence of her extraordinary vision and determination to bring her ideas to fruition. It's the same pioneering spirit that led farmers to these rural parts hundreds of years ago and Collins to a house that may only have been a year or so in the making but feels like it already holds generations of happy memories. — Bureaux.co.za