Signal Hill Home

WORDS Robyn Alexander PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes PHOTOS Paris Brummer

Cape Town interior designer Etienne Hanekom has ensured that his multilevel abode on the slopes of Signal Hill makes maximum use of its compact footprint, creating a home that facilitates summer living at its finest.

It’s already become a cliché to say that the Covid-19 pandemic – and in particular, its lockdowns, which confined us to our homes for months on end in 2020 – changed the way we think about domestic space. These days, walk through a prospective new home, and one of the first questions that comes to mind is how you’d feel about being confined to that house for two months. And in the case of this cleverly remodelled abode in Cape Town, the answer is, “Bring it on immediately!”

Located in the upper regions of Green Point, the house is perched on the edge of Signal Hill, and unfolds over multiple levels to accommodate the steepness of the sloped plot. Past the street entrance and parking garage at the top of the house, a short, covered walkway – encased on one side by metal palisade-style balustrades, coated in an eye-catching trio of brass, copper and bronze – leads to the main door. Inside, one is quickly drawn into an expansive, open-plan lounge, dining and kitchen area, which works seamlessly as the main living space.

The entire front facade of this floor is glazed, making the most of the view – and what a view it is. Stretching from Three Anchor Bay on the left to the sculptural oval of Cape Town Stadium and the V&A Waterfront on the right, it’s centred on Robben Island and the spectacular, curved sweep of the Mouille Point coastline, with the deep blue expanse of Table Bay beyond. It’s definitely one of the finest vistas in a part of the world that isn’t exactly short on breathtaking views.

READ MORE: Etienne Hanekom’s Robertson Cottage

A covered veranda for outdoor living fronts this floor of the house, and includes a sleek built-in braai, a lounge area, and a small outdoor dining area, which together ensure that the home’s occupants are able to make the most of this supremely covetable location. Like the interior living space (and the rest of the home), the outdoor zone feels effortlessly sophisticated in style – and it is the work of Cape Town designer Etienne Hanekom.

READ MORE: Colourful Swimming Pool Designed by Etienne Hanekom

Etienne has done a superlative job of creating interiors that facilitate a laid-back lifestyle and make the everyday experience of living here effortless. This is not a large home, but it feels spacious and clutter-free, chiefly due to the thoughtful way every part of it has been designed for ease of use. In a corner of the main living area, for example, Etienne has managed to incorporate a petite workspace with a discreet desk, facing a semi-transparent, built-in floor-to-ceiling shelf unit from which multiple plants trail, and on which sculptures and objects are displayed. This “office” is neatly secluded, yet it remains part of the room. The small scullery off the kitchen on the other side of the space is another useful inclusion: it means that the everyday detritus of living can be quickly removed from view.

Etienne Hanekom
The living, dining and kitchen area combine to form a single, open-plan space that leads out to a deck and a spectacular 180-degree vista across the expanse of Table Bay. The eye-catching leather Outline sofa by Muuto is from Créma, as are the Flash coffee and side tables by Tom Dixon.

The home’s owner is a collector of various treasures, and Etienne has facilitated this within its compact spaces through the use of clever storage solutions. For instance, a modular Boffi shelving unit in the kitchen emerges diagonally from the wall, taking up minimal space and almost invisible from the living and dining areas. Stand in the kitchen looking out, however, and the shelves are revealed; they’re packed with colourful souvenirs, cookbooks and keepsakes that add a very personal feel. And the owner’s wine collection is stored in a cellar sunk into the floor of the atrium-like space between the bedrooms on the lower floor, complete with a glass cover that enables it to stay safely stashed, yet also temptingly on display.

Etienne Hanekom
The second sleeping area, like the main suite, includes its own en suite bathroom and dressing room. All of the joinery was designed by Etienne Hanekom especially for the spaces, to fulfil the homeowner’s brief to create interiors with “an earthy palette, using a combination of natural stone, handmade tiles, glass, wood and steel – and some warm metallics”, says Etienne.

Two en suite bedrooms make up the remainder of the main part of the house.The beds in each are positioned to allow their occupants to take in the fabulous views; behind them are smartly designed bathrooms and dressing areas. One more floor down, en route to the glamorous plunge pool set in a verdant courtyard at the very bottom of the property, is an Art Deco-inspired guest suite.

“Why didn’t I think of that?” details abound throughout the spaces – such as the built-in seat in the centre of a wardrobe, the stylish linen drawers stashed below the beds, and storage for towels tucked into the edge of a built-in bath. This house combines simplicity with thoughtful details, and blends sleek style with an easygoing atmosphere, making it the ideal backdrop for the sort of laid- back living we’re all hoping for much more of in the future.

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