WORDS Biddi Rorke IMAGES Paris Brummer PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes
For entrepreneur Marti Heyns-Foster and her beagle Garcon, home is a timelessly romantic villa in the heart of Franschhoek.
It has been a 21-year-long labour of love. Marti Heyns-Foster admits that, when she first moved into her corner home on a shaded street in the Winelands, it wasn’t her dream abode. But it had good bones, high ceilings, original wooden floors and plenty of natural light, and the young mother knew she could work with the basics. Over the following two decades, with her sharp eye for the quirky and the unique, Marti lovingly curated a sanctuary filled with French-inspired decor and objects. “In my opinion, a home should evolve over time, reflecting your changing tastes as you develop as person,” she says. “A real home is a representation of how all the members of the household live and grow.”
The property is set far back from public view, at a jaunty angle. In front, a formal French garden spills out towards the road, the result of a visit to a château in the Loire Valley that overlooked a striking landscape. “My friend, designer André Carl van der Merwe (author of Moffie), was there with me to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and he sketched out the garden for me, creating an illusion of symmetry.” Today, dominated by two ancient white stinkwood trees, Marti’s indigenous rhus-hedged garden is not yet two years old – and is a genteel alternative to the white pebbles that filled the space before.
In stark contrast to the dramatic liquorice-black exterior with snow-white trim, the interior of the three-bedroom home is light and bright. Over the years, tweaks and updates have happened when necessary, but although a few walls have been removed to open up spaces, the enclosed oval veranda has remained, echoing the circular elements of the statement garden. Inside, imported pieces speak of Marti’s ongoing love affair with all things French, while carefully chosen curiosities and eccentricities – think a wall of mirrors (à la Versailles), taxidermy mounts, and crosses – demonstrate her innate avoidance of the clichéd and the expected.
“I am absolutely fascinated by crosses,” she says. “I understand that they hold religious significance for many people, but for me, the appeal lies in the elegance of their lines. There is a purity and integrity to this visual simplicity that dovetails perfectly with my personal aesthetic.”
Marti is well-known as the creative force behind Masquerade, a boutique homeware brand with outlets in Franschhoek and Constantia. “I appreciate the beautiful and the unusual, and both my home and my business reflect that,” she says. “I value craftsmanship and authenticity, and I hope our throwaway society will keep moving back to a place where manufacturing integrity is honoured and detail is acknowledged.”
In keeping with this ethos, Marti’s home is a celebration of antiques, custom pieces and designer items. “I usually travel to France and other countries in Europe at least once a year on buying trips, and I particularly enjoy the classic and subtle aspects of the French aesthetic,” she says. But this certainly doesn’t mean her space is subdued. In between the Rococo-inspired couches and the crystal chandeliers, Marti brings an effortless element of playfulness to each room. As she says, “Your home should reflect who you are.”