Fairview House

WORDS Jules Kingaby PHOTOS Ryan French

Set amongst the fynbos at the top of a valley, the newly renovated Fairview House makes use of spacious design and vast windows to make the most of its idyllic surrounds.

Pulling into the driveway of Fairview House nestled in a gentle space between forest and sky in The Crags some 15 minutes from Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape, two pointers bound up greeting you like members of the family. The veggie garden spills over with deliciousness, bumble bees dive bomb your arrival and you know that a comfy couch is waiting to catch you as you grab a lazy gin and tonic from someone who understands you need to hit the slow lane.

Inherited as a dilapidated home by the Rattray family very much in need of a loving transformation, Heather from Heather Hensley Interiors partnered the revamp of this treasured place with client Nicky Rattray and local architect Tessa van Schaik. The brief for this unique property that takes up such a central place in the vastness of the valley, was to create an eight-bedroomed luxurious yet homely boutique hotel where guests craving tranquillity could hang their hats.

The team’s affinity for Cape Dutch architecture, which was retained during the renovation allowed Heather, renowned for her clean-lined aesthetics, vibrant colour blocks and locally crafted custom-made fabrics, to be able to bring back glory to a ‘has been’ estate.

“The best thing about working on this project was that this once stately home that demands space and a sensitive design approach to location, ticked all the boxes and that was exciting. The building spread is supported well be the vast expanse that surrounds the property so the challenge was to gently capture the personality of the place and not overwhelm the eye. To not just create a pretty space but instead, thoughtfully considered interiors where we could improve, move, or change things,” said Heather.

As a qualified textile designer that gives her a solid grounding in colour and manufacturing, Heather worked with Nicky around the design principle ‘a bit of you, a bit of me and bit of history’. Keen not to churn out a typical colonial storyboard which can sometimes be a bit uptight, Heather instead chose to amplify luxury and comfort marrying the architecture with the interiors to create a South African experience and a celebration of the past. “Beautiful spaces play with my energy so I am always itching to make an environment better to put people at ease,” she said.

Fairview House is solid. Its foundations dig deep and firmly hug the edge of the valley. Seasons change every hour and whether it’s rain, sun or shadows sweeping up to the mountains in the distance, the space between nature and luxury blend seamlessly. “That’s why I worked with colour a little differently on this project, by remaining true to the time period and bringing light, and simplicity into rooms that are framed by views at each turn. It’s a super sunny space so it could carry off a little bit of colour and softness, matched with contemporary pieces of furniture. Plain fabrics, layering and clean trims worked well to echo shapely pieces of furniture with added splashes of pattern mixed with natural textures and accents of charcoal and black – created really snug, comfy spaces,” said Heather.

Fairview House

From the sun lounge with its nude pink palette showcasing flamboyant sunsets, to the Ardmore inspired dining area with its velvet curtains and mushroom grey accents – each area is highly functional and a showcase for beautiful artworks from the Everard Read Gallery. From Kerri Evan’s ‘Attitude’ to Phillemon Hlungwani’s linocuts framing the second entrance and staircase; the detailed beaded panel by Zondile Zondi in the bar area and a Gary Stephens linocut framing the fireplace in the sitting room.

Re-trending pieces of furniture is a passion for Heather – “where the more imperfect an item is, the better”, evidenced by a thoughtfully curated, unique blend of second-hand mirrors, chairs, and couches throughout. With a design ethos around simplicity and sustainability, design before décor, creating layered interiors and incorporating functionality that improves one’s way of life – Heather plans the flow of any conversion from concept to installation using a starting point that resonates with her. A carpet perhaps. Treasured items collected from travels. Family paintings or in this case a gorgeous armoire that is now a feature in the reception area as guests are welcomed and their eyes drink in the view that stretches for days.

“Creating this authentic, living space at Fairview House that is all about comfort and people coming together and making memories, was such a privilege.  From correcting the foundation of the various spaces, getting everyone’s input, and marrying ideas. Never getting rid of items but first assessing their potential and ultimately meeting the brief as clients are delighted by their revamped spaces – these are the things that keep me switched on and loving what I do”, said Heather.

For more information or to book a stay, visit fairviewhouse.co.za

Looking for more architectural inspiration? Take a look at the colourful Hotel Sky on Cape Town’s Foreshore.