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Green Fingers: Newlands Cottage

Surrounded by a verdant garden, the cottage and pool house of a southern suburbs home in Cape Town take their decorating cues from the colours and textures of the great outdoors.

“As so often happens when it comes to Cape Town homes, ideas tend to return to embracing the beauty of Table Mountain,” says designer Sumari Krige. And for a designer, that’s often about décor that nods to the subtleties of the mountain’s many colours and textures.” So, upon first visiting the newly acquired site adjacent to the home of long-term clients of hers, the founder of La Grange Interiors couldn’t have felt more assured of her inspiration for the interiors her clients had requested. These were to be for a soon-to-be-built pool house and cottage, both extensions of the family’s existing Newlands home. Before me was the most radical view of the mountains above Kirstenbosch, dense in foliage and fauna in all shades of green,’ explains Krige. ‘It was a no-brainer – these were to be the colours I’d turn to when decorating.”

Further cementing her decision were conversations with the homeowners about the landscaped garden to follow, which would be rich in indigenous plantings, that would run right up to the pool house like carpet to a skirting. “I loved the mention of a planned combination of warm, textural grasses alongside cooler, more feathery leaves. My client is an avid gardener, so I knew bringing the outdoors in would be a welcome approach.”


Krige’s ongoing working relationship with the homeowners meant that she had a honed understanding of what they’d appreciate. Having decorated prior homes of theirs, the process flowed with rhythmic ease. They made it clear they wanted a space that was fresh and fun, indicated their likes and dislikes and pointed out pieces of furniture that particularly appealed to them. It helped the process too that architect Jane Baldwin’s design of the spaces had wonderful flow, both within and from the inside out. “Three of four walls in the pool house fold completely open,” Krige says, “which really blurs the boundaries between interior and exterior living, and which makes for a pavilion-like space perfect for summer.”

Complementing the cool-to-the-touch screed flooring, Krige’s introduction of green on the walls helps create an underlying palette for the pool house that creates an intimate space offering respite from the summer heat. In the open plan room, the introduction of wood joinery surrounding the television and within a drinks station adds warmth and focuses attention. “I’ve always appreciated local textile designer Nicole Levenberg’s work. I thought a floral fabric of hers was particularly suited to the space and so worked with her to transpose it onto wallpaper to line the drinks station,” Krige says. Used on cushions on the circular sofa, an equally striking painterly print by Portuguese designer Barbara Osorio echoes organic forms of mountain foliage and simultaneously introduces hints of warmer earth tones to the room. “This isn’t the family’s primary living space, so I could afford to be playful with colour,” Krige explains of touches of burgundy dotted about. “Nor is it a pretentious room; I’ve stuck to durable fabrics with natural textures, and I’ve echoed this tactility in wooden and ceramic accessories.”


Earthy textures and warmer tones carry greater weight in the adjacent one-bedroomed cottage, where white walls lend themselves to a more neutral space. Krige has artfully echoed the wood grain of a trio of coffee tables in cushions on the sofa, each covered in a different fabric from Mark Alexander’s Moderna collection. Similar striation-like patterning contours the front and sides of the bedside tables, extending this play of arboreal textures into the bedroom. Here, a sleigh bed in a statement-making orange speaks to the warmth of morning light on the mountain. Krige’s talent for pattern play holds its own in the bedroom, where tribal-inspired bed linen is paired with a chair in a graphic print from Fabric Bank’s Africa Dreaming collection.


Clever use of nature-inspired colour indoors leads the eye seamlessly out. Amidst the now landscaped garden, understated outdoor furniture chosen by Krige creates garden ‘rooms’, opportunities for contemplating the tranquil surroundings. “With such an arresting outlook, I wanted the interiors to become an extension of all that’s happening here, rather than fight for attention,” Krige says, with a sweep of her arm that takes in not just the garden, but the majestic mountains beyond.

by Martin Jacobs

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