Mid-Century-Inspired Plettenberg Bay Home

WORDS Michaela Stehr PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes PHOTOS Dook

Cleverly constructed thresholds between a tiered garden and the interior spaces mean this Mid-century-inspired family home manages the trick of being both spacious and cosy.

Looks can be deceiving. At first glance, this creatively terraced home may appear small – but a stroll through the property reveals both space and a sense of intimacy, based around the focal point of the garden.

Architect Guillaume Pienaar’s brief may have also appeared relatively simple: to build a cost-effective home for a family of three, including an option to work from home. Accomplishing it was a little more complex. “We wanted to create a family home that was unique, connected to the outdoors, sustainably built, and within our rather modest budget,” explain homeowners Anthea and Conrad Buys. “It was important for the house to be equipped for both of us to work from home, but also to maintain separation between work and life.” Another requirement was the ability to host visitors from Joburg (where Anthea and Conrad used to live) while giving them privacy and space.

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Strongly guided by Guillaume, they went with an early Mid-century Modern aesthetic in both architecture and design, with a focus on the thresholds between the inside and outdoors. Drawing inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1939 Fallingwater design, the home embraces the idea of connecting the natural garden to the interior spaces. “The terraced garden to the north is the main focus of the house, and always present,” says Guillaume. “Every space lives out onto it, but at a different level, creating unique views and perspectives. Openings in the building’s facade to the east south and west are left to the absolute minimum, allowing cross-ventilation and the required morning sun in the main bedroom, and late-afternoon winter sun in the kitchen.”

Plettenberg Bay Home
Full of light, the kitchen incorporates the garden into the space via numerous doors and windows.

Guillaume got creative with materials, exaggerating textures such as thick, rough plaster and double-layer concrete on the outer walls, the large- profile fibre cement corrugated roof, and larger-than-life eaves and bargeboard details. MDF cladding on interior walls and ceilings is a statement, and the perfect canvas for the family’s extensive collection of local art. The MDF also creates an amazingly cosy atmosphere during chilly winter months, and lends the house its unique geometric detailing. “It feels spacious and cosy at the same time – and from the time you enter the front door, the narrative is a series of transitions from more constricted areas to more open areas,” says Anthea.

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For open-plan living at this scale, Guillaume found it important to clearly define each section and individual space with its own function. He achieved this by extending the garden terrace wall into the interior of the home, dividing the living and dining/ kitchen spaces into two different levels with a single sloping ceiling serving to unify them, and placing a combined server/ fridge between the two.

The idea was to create separation between the private sleeping spaces and shared living areas, and to connect the kitchen and living room without creating a run-of-the-mill open-plan design. “We spend a lot of time in the kitchen,” says Anthea, “so it was important to us to make this an area where we – and our guests – would be able to spend that time comfortably.” The result is a creative space that pays homage to one of the architectural greats through form following function, while being uniquely theirs.

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