Enriched with earthy hues and raw texture, this seaside bolthole in Yzerfontein on the West Coast is engineered to make the most of its jaw-dropping views.
Wherever you happen to be standing inside, you have the sense of being on a ship,’ says Evi Elsner, summing up the essence of the waterside idyll she shares with her husband Jochem, their two dogs, Emma and Harry, and cat Oscar. From the expansive ground-floor kitchen – the apex of the house – you’re struck by Evi’s nautical comparison as views of the rugged West Coast command your attention from all around, the crisp south-easter rolls in from the sea and a giant architectural sail outside bristles against the strengthening breeze.
Drawn to the small fishing village for its cool climate and warm hospitality, the Elsners left Somerset West to settle there. As founders of Home Concept, an architectural and interior design company, the two co-tailor spaces for their clients. When it came to setting a brief for their own house, the couple sought to be connected to the unspoilt beauty of their environment – featuring belts of fynbos and wildlife such as ostriches, dassies and tortoises that roam freely on the land. ‘It’s a beautiful coastline with lovely beaches. It’s also a quaint town – people greet you when you pass them,’ explains Evi.
The structure itself, built by Jochem, is all clean lines and strong angles with some arresting details, such as that huge sail. ‘We really wanted an architectural eye-catcher,’ says Evi, pointing out the 17m-long stretch of canvas that soars into the sky from the roof and cements her ship analogy. The ‘architectural eye-catcher’ also adds a sense of loftiness to the building, which is more squat than their previous projects due to a strict height restriction of 8m. ‘You can’t have a pitched roof and high ceilings across two storeys because of the limitation, so we went for the cubicle look,’ she adds.
Conscious of their eco-footprint, the couple installed photovoltaic panels to produce electricity and a solar water heating system, while two open replaces in the lounge heat up the geysers and warm the floors, perfect for barefoot living come the cooler months.
With its two en-suite bedrooms in a guest wing, the kitchen and a living area downstairs, the ground floor of this cubicle design was designed for groups of people and it’s here that the Elsners’ friends and family gather. ‘Almost every weekend we have people staying over,’ explains Evi. Festive dinners tend to be enjoyed around the 4m-long dining table, originally a workman’s bench from India, weathered with age and experience. Big sliding glass sheets in the living area put the outdoors on display, letting light drench the interior and air ow through the interconnected spaces, while the long, narrow window slots through the bedrooms and kitchen filter and frame the perfect vistas. ‘When you sit in front of the dining table, all you see is blue sea – no houses,’ notes Evi of the coastline that winds around this stretch of land, offering those inside the house a panoramic eyeful of the landscape. ‘Every window’s designed like a picture, so you have a framed view.’ A sizeable, comfortable bay window has the most show-stopping vantage point of them all and is a favourite reading nook for Evi, who curls up here with the animals and a good read on chilly winter’s mornings.
Introducing colour and texture to the interiors comes naturally to Evi and this space is a masterclass in soft layering. ‘You don’t need that many items to feel cosy,’ she says. Collected pieces in wood, felt and other wholly unexpected materials – such as the sh trap that Jochem turned into a lighting feature – contribute to the warm, homely feel and the house has an Afro-Scandi identity, thanks to Evi’s bent for minimalism. The earthy palette carries through to the Elsners’ private zone upstairs, comprising office, bathroom and large master bedroom.
‘I always use natural tones. I find them very calming,’ says Evi. ‘Everything’s so hectic nowadays that I want our house to be a haven of tranquillity and calm.’ Early in the morning, the sound of birdsong and gently crashing waves rouses you from sleep and there’s the distinct sense – as Evi noted – that you’re aboard a boat, somewhere in the middle of the ocean.
‘When our friends have been here for a weekend, they always say they feel as if they’ve had a week of proper holiday,’ she smiles. ‘That’s what we wanted to create.’ home-concept.cc
Text: Jessica Ross. Photos: Henrique Wilding.