PHOTOS Micky Hoyle PRODUCTION Sumien Brink WORDS Debbie Loots
When Berdine Neethling bought an empty shell of a house in the Cape Town City Bowl, interior designer Alison Reynolds helped her to renovate it and to curate an eclectic collection of art, furniture and collectibles.
It doesn’t make sense. Not in the name of conventional interior design, it doesn’t. This newly renovated and redesigned home of Berdine Neethling.
Styles clash everywhere: Moroccan meets Cape Dutch (maybe not head-on, but close enough). South African’s king of kitsch art, Alex Hamilton, has his Marie Antoinette – donning a ship for a hat – rubbing shoulders with an Irma Stern. A carousel pony dangles from a ceiling, oblivious of the Lionel Smit bust sitting on a dresser underneath. And that’s just for starters. Shocking? No. Rather sensational. You see, there’s method in this seeming madness.
But wait, let’s start at the beginning, back when communications graduate and lifestyle blogger Berdine Neethling bought a house in the City Bowl that was a shell with all-round great views. “My friend, interior designer Alison Reynolds, who owns The Painted Door Design Company, helped me with the renovation,” says Berdine. “We had the kitchen remodelled, rainwater tanks installed, and terraces formed from an ugly retaining wall and planted with shrubs and fruit trees. ”
The upstairs area, consisting of the bedroom, bathroom, office and dressing room, became Berdine’s haven. It has its own roof garden, from where the Hottentots Holland Mountains are seen shimmering beyond the city and the sea.
Bricks and mortar done, it was time for the inside job. Berdine’s favourite. With tonnes of Pinterest boards ready as references for every room, she and Alison set to work.
All good in virtual reality, but the thing is, Berdine is an ardent collector and curator of real things: art, fake trophies, even suede dogs for lamps. And Alison had to find a place for everything.
Local art is Berdine’s passion. “My wish is that more of our local talent can be lifted up onto a global platform,” she says. “I got one of my favourite artists, Paula van Coller Louw, to paint her signature twigs and blossoms on my bedroom wardrobe. I think it was the first time Paula had painted on furniture!”
Also, Berdine adores plants, all sorts sprout from pots all over the place. Inside and outside. So there’s definitely no holding back on the tropical vibe. It’s only in the lounge and dining room where her disposition for all things leafy dissipates slightly, but venture into her upstairs bathroom and you’re in for another sensational jungle-like shocker.
“I am not afraid,” she says with a smile as she switches on the lights. “I let colour and theme hold the things together that don’t seem to belong together. It works like magic.”
And here in her bathroom, underneath twinkling star lights and down lights, amid a real and imagined forest, it all makes marvellous, mad sense.