Greyton Cottage

WORDS Debbie Loots PHOTOS Stefan Calitz

When a young couple invested in a quaint Greyton cottage, they asked interior designer Hendré Bloem to give it a Scandinavian makeover, with lots of white wall space to show off their London-acquired modern artworks.

Hendré Bloem was the right man for the job. A young Cape Town couple knew this straight away when they saw the designer’s stylish revamp of Greyton Lodge.

The couple, back in Cape Town with their two toddlers after a stint in London, wanted the right person to redesign and renovate their newly acquired weekend cottage on Regent Street, one of Greyton’s quaint treed lanes.

They were in luck, because not only did their house become a project Hendré loved, but he was also the man about town concerning all things renovation in Greyton. Like where to buy building supplies, who the best local contractors were and where to get plans signed off. And getting approval wasn’t easy.

“The house may not have heritage status, but we still had to get the go-ahead from the Greyton Aesthetics Advisory Committee,” says Hendré. Based on the design guidelines of town founder Herbert Vigne, houses have to look like a simpler version of the Cape Dutch home. And the Regent Street cottage ticked all the boxes: small gables, front door flanked by two symmetrical windows, and an outside staircase leading to the attic.

That typical Greyton look Hendré wasn’t going to mess with. Well, maybe just improve on a little… which he did. He moved the outside staircase inside, and turned the attic into two loft bedrooms and an en-suite bathroom.

That’s really as far as any major outside renovations went (apart from the single garage he converted into a guest cottage – a story for later). The bulk of the work happened inside.

“We opened up living spaces and turned a dark room off the kitchen into an airy stoep with views across the wooded garden and mountains,” says Hendré.

The interior design brief was simple: Go clean Scandinavian lines, use white and grey for colour, and get locally designed furniture and fittings. Hendré happily obliged.

So, save for a bare brick wall in the downstairs bedroom, nearly everything was painted white: floors, walls, living spaces, kitchen, you name it. Even the metro tiles in the bathrooms and kitchen are white.

It worked magic. Colours popped: the owners’ artworks, bright-green chairs, kitchen shelving by James Mudge, the impressive raw steel staircase… The cottage was sorted.

Now, back to the aforementioned converted garage, where the Scandinavian look continues. It is Hendré’s favourite space. So what’s so special?

“In place of the roller door, we used cottage-paned French windows, letting in lots of light and amazing views. I then thought, why stop here? So we knocked down another wall, and more light and garden views streamed in. It worked beautifully.”

Spoken like a true designer, and clearly the right man for the job.