Contemporary North Coast Home

WORDS Martin Jacobs IMAGES Elsa Young

A beachside home on Durban’s North Coast reinvents estate living, packing a visual punch with a new wave of coastal style and Malibu charm.

We’re all guilt of having done it. Invited into a seaside home, we bypass its entertainment areas, occasionally its hosts, making an immediate beeline for the outdoor spaces beyond, seeking the soul-soothing, sensory rewards they offer: sunshine glinting golden on the ocean’s surface, the chalky aroma of baked sand. So for the young Johannesburg family relocating to KwaZulu-Natal’s beachside Zimbali estate, largely occupied by holiday houses, a new home that broke with old coastal style conventions was essential.

Walls of glass fold open in the home’s bar and living spaces, encouraging seamless indoor-outdoor flow between the building’s seaside and courtyard garden, where striking repetition of timber screens adds drama.

Their house, through both its architecture and interior design, was to stand out and be as seductive as the ocean views it offered. Eager to upturn the architectural regulations imposed by the estate’s committee, the homeowners enlisted architect Sean Godfrey of Masterworx Architectural Design, insisting on a break from the pervasive Balinese resort-style. In search of an interior aesthetic more contemporary than their Bryanston home, the couple were inspired by their travels along America’s West Coast, and their appreciation of its relaxed yet tailored decorating. Recognising like minds, they appointed Durban design duo Kelsey Boyce and Bruce Fyfe of Fyfe Boyce.

“We are great admirers of American designer Jeffrey Alan Marks, who captures the same laid-back coastal feel that we like to inject into our projects, so we proposed to our client a Malibu feel with an African twist,” says Kelsey. Inviting the outdoors in was an obvious starting point. An edit of local and imported fabrics in natural tones and textures, richly layered for a luxurious effect, does just that, echoing the beach below. Throughout the house, the repetition of blues and whites mirrors views across the water, and metallic accents add Malibu glamour, while a combination of raw wood and tactile woven finishes firmly contextualises the home on African soil. A statement piece – and one of Kelsey’s favourite spaces – the custom-designed bar includes an oxidised copper base, the colours of which reference the lush vegetation. “Our interiors are intended to be lived in. We needed to create a home that is as comfortable as it is beautiful,” comments Bruce, adding, “We wanted the clients to feel like every day is a holiday.”

This emphasis on barefoot living is equally apparent in the architecture, a key requirement of which was sea views throughout the building. Consequently, expansive walls of glass fold away for seamless indoor-outdoor flow. “We insisted on a space that matched how we live and entertain,” says the owner. “We fill our home with family and friends and laze around the pool.”Appearing at first glance to disappear beneath the bar, the pool connects the seaside to the courtyard garden. Timber screens, sheltering the bedrooms above, add drama to this play space. “Designed to be automated, the screens allow in as much natural light and ventilation as desired, while always ensuring privacy,” comments Godfrey, the architect. Like many of the home’s other considered choices, such design creativity not only guarantees comfort but also packs a visual punch. Which, for a young family in search of something new, is nothing short of a sea change.