The simplicity of white-washed cottages against the blue ocean is contrasted by colourful, rich interiors
Stef Venter is the owner and managing director of South of Africa, a group of hotels and self-catering cottages in its many establishments in two of South Africa’s most popular tourism provinces: Limpopo and the Western Cape.
“The Abalone Pool Villas is one of two properties we own and manage in Paternoster, the other being the 5-star Abalone House & Spa. Abalone Pool Villas are Paternoster’s first luxury self-catering destination.”
What made you choose the area?
In 2003 my partner Johan Jansen van Vuuren and I were visiting the Cape and enjoying a meal with friends in Blaauwberg. We had planned to continue up the West Coast, and our friends recommended we visit the quaint fishing village of Paternoster.
On arrival, we were attracted by the energy, unspoiled beauty, simplicity of the design of the white-washed fishermen’s cottages and village life.
We fell in love with Paternoster and decided there and then that we wanted to live in this quaint, charming, undiscovered West Coast fishing village. Six months later, in December 2003, we made the move.
Living in Paternoster, we recognised the potential and benefits that tourism could offer the community to create employment, and we opened an accommodation booking service and estate agency. We began to develop property and in 2010 we transformed our home into the boutique hotel Abalone House, to which a Reuben’s Restaurant and Healing Earth Spa were added in 2013.
What is your inspiration for the decor, style and design?
Inspired by the decor and style that was part of the Abalone House & Spa, we decided to “extend” the atmosphere into the Abalone Pool Villas when we renovated and rebranded these two seaside cottages. The colourful and vibrant Tretchikoff prints were part of the golden thread we were carrying through in the design. Together with my love for the colour blue, which complements the sea and sky, the style and design is inspired by the old saying “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue”. Many of the pieces were “borrowed” from Abalone House and from our private collection of antiques. The blue Delft pieces that form part of the décor add to the charm. Everything is neatly put together to complement one another, creating an eye-pleasing picture.
Did you work with an architect and/or interior designer?
The actual units were built a few years back, designed by architect Jaco Visser. With our collaboration we chose to optimise the view of the property. With the new revamp, much inspiration was taken from the decadent style of Abalone House, which was lavishly designed with luxurious Bohemian decor by Cape Town interior designer David Strauss. Our aim was to offer these delights of grandeur with an eclectic visual tapestry. South of Africa projects manager Johan Esterhuizen was in charge of turning my vision into reality. He worked with a selection of local suppliers and craftsman under the guidance of Strauss.
What dictates your decor style?
The oversized Tretchikoff prints played a huge role in our design choices. Another major point are the Persian rugs. We love these hand-woven rugs; they add plentiful character. We also believe in breathing new life into the old pieces. We managed to reuse a lot of them. We simply added new pieces where needed.
What things of beauty please you?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Something that pleases one person may not please the next, so in creating something that is attractive we chose to focus on different textures, materials, objects and furniture that might not do anything on their own, but when put together the offering has a variety of “beauty pleasing” aspects. Anyone can find something pleasing in what we offer.
What are the things with which you like to fill your space?
For us comfort in guest experiences is vital. Beauty without comfort is not an option. We can’t, for example, have a beautiful couch which is so uncomfortable guests are too scared to sit on it. So we strive to combine the two in our spaces to have comfort paired with the beauty. The element of surprise is something we love to have: we like to fill our spaces with things you would not expect to see there, or things used in a completely different way than what it was intended for.
How do you think your guests relate to the surroundings you have created?
Having opened our doors just two months ago, it is still early stages. However, so far we have received rave reviews from all our guests. They adore the decor choices, which seamlessly blend into the environment. It sounds like we might just have hit the nail on the head with our all-blue creations.
What are the favourite things about your property?
The unobtrusive sea view. No matter what time of day, it’s just breathtakingly beautiful, created by the Creator himself. Nothing we create can compare with it. Another favourite has to be the infinity rim-flow pool. What makes this unique is not simply the view it enhances, but the emotions it awakes when you are in the water looking out over the Atlantic. The never-ending vistas make for a magical experience. Another special stand out for me is the outdoor shower. If you’ve gone for a long walk on the beach or a swim in the sea in summer, the outdoor shower is that little something extra that adds to the unique experience of seaside living.
What tips or advice would you offer readers who would like to recreate your gorgeous style in their own homes?
Choose a style that works for your needs and lifestyle. Start simply with the basics from the flooring up and then build on that – adding layer on top of layer.
Don’t be scared of colour. Start with a story board and put together photos, fabric samples and colour swatches. Create your room with all the aspects you want.
Remember: that old grandfather’s chair in the storeroom can look totally different with paint or new upholstery, and might just be the item you need to bring your whole creation together.
By reusing things you already own you create savings in your budget for that special new item you’d like to add to your new space.