Inside this seriously sophisticated Green Point apartment, a daring opaque backdrop lets the rich emerald-and-gold palette sparkle.
Sitting in the living zone of the Green Point apartment she shares with her husband Andy, Alex van der Velde says: ‘It all started with the idea for an emerald velvet couch.’
That couch is now the star piece of the room and Alex runs her fingertips absent-mindedly over its silky surface as she recounts her inspiration for the abode. It’s the kind of room-defining, sink-in sofa into which you’d nestle in the heart of winter, and is characteristic of the style of home the couple wanted to create: textural, comfortable and utterly chic.
The desire to buy property in Cape Town grew out of Alex and Andy’s respective careers in logistics, which saw them spending more and more time between the city and their house in Zimbali, KwaZulu-Natal. ‘We’re also in a situation where all our kids have grown up and left the nest,’ says Alex, ‘so finding a smaller place made sense.’ While much more compact than their Zimbali home, this three-bedroomed bolt-hole spread over three storeys is splendidly spacious, with generous proportions and a solid architectural frame for the interior work that the Van der Veldes set out to do with Durban-based interior designer Amy Mitchell.
Having worked with the couple on a previous project, Mitchell immediately took to her clients’ vision for this interior gut job, which blended practical living with a glamorous, Kelly Wearstler-like sensibility. ‘She’s my style icon,’ notes Alex, and whispers of the references to the American interior designer – known for her daring use of patterns, vibrant colours and eye-catching feature pieces – that can be found throughout the space, from the geometric gold wallpaper in the master bedroom to the animal prints and scatter cushions in the living area, suitably covered in Wearstler’s fabric.
Along with the emerald sofa, Alex sought a dark, moody look for the interior walls. ‘This was the beginning for the colour scheme,’ explains Mitchell. ‘I mixed the green with black and gold for a dramatic effect, and the darker colours really accentuate those hues. Both the living areas have really high ceilings, so they were able to carry the darker colours well.’ Against the moody walls, key design pieces by local talent are given an opportunity to shine, like the outsized dining-room table by Kevin Frankental of studio Lemon and an Andrew Early timber coffee table. For Mitchell, good light was key to success: ‘An integral part of the design was the use of lighting and mirrors. The house really comes to life in the evenings when all the levels of lighting come into play and it’s reflected in the mirrors, making it really striking.’
While the home’s textural and colour palette is consistent throughout the space, each of its three levels has a unique ambience. On the top floor kitchen-dining-living zone, it’s all about open entertaining, whether the Van der Veldes are enjoying dinner at the dining-room table with custom-made banquette seating, playing cards with their kids in front of the fireplace or taking in the spectacular sunset from the balcony.
In the bedrooms, Mitchell wanted to create a cosy sanctuary, so she turned the tone right down to a calming mix of gold, midnight blue and white, letting the vista shine in its own right. ‘Alex really wanted the bed in the master bedroom to face the glorious view,’ says Mitchell, ‘but the wall that backs onto the bathroom area just wasn’t generous enough to accommodate a king-sized bed, so I designed a headboard on hinged wings to circumnavigate this obstacle.’ Guest bedrooms follow suit, while the guest bathrooms are bursts of vivid tropical style. ‘Because they’re usually a fraction of the size of other rooms, guest loos should be striking and dramatic,’ says Alex.
Andy and Alex’s love of local art is evident throughout the home, from the Kurt Pio abstracts in the living area to the Victoria Verbaans in the bedrooms. The bottom-level TV-living space – a thoroughly intimate zone in deep blue with emerald accents – features a wall of moon prints entitled Phases of Fortune by local artist Michael Chandler, referencing the couple’s love of all things lunar. ‘We’re both fascinated by moons,’ says Alex. And when they’re not looking at the moon’s phases in the downstairs TV room, they can catch the live show out on the balcony, where they’re treated to the dazzling panorama – right from Bantry Bay to the Cape Town harbour – that initially sold the couple on the property and leaves them slack-jawed every time they step outside. ‘I knew when I first walked in the front door and saw that view that I was done,’ says Andy. ‘It’s just magnificent.’
Text: Jessica Ross Photographs: Inge Prins