Stylist, interior designer and former editor of ELLE Decoration South Africa Laureen Rossouw and her husband Koos were already planning to move out of their art deco apartment in Cape Town’s central City Bowl area when she spotted a picture of a ‘dilapidated house with classic Bauhaus lines’ in the newspaper.
As soon as she saw the characterful, mid-century building in the suburb of Oranjezicht she was smitten. ‘I immediately phoned Koos to tell him I had found my dream house. He loved it too, although,’ she admits, ‘when he saw how much work there was to do, he couldn’t hide his disappointment. The lines were there, but the layout was impractical. It needed a thoughtful update to adapt it for 21st-century living.’
It’s impossible not to be captivated by the visual feast created by Laureen’s changes, which maximise flow and light. She and her daughter, Renée Rossouw – an acclaimed designer who, in 2019, was one of the young African creatives who collaborated on Ikea’s ‘Överallt’ collection – have transformed the kitchen into a breathtaking double-volume space. They also created a large circular ‘porthole’ in the dining area and added clerestory windows (high-level glazing) and interior glass doors throughout.
‘My mum and I often collaborate,’ says Renée. ‘We alternate between creator and editor for different projects. We have a similar understanding of colour and style. I’m a bit more minimalist and stripped back, whereas she’s more energetic and passionate.’
Laureen’s love of mid-century design is obvious – from her Le Corbusier armchair in the study to the Bruno Mathsson swivel chair in the dining area – but it’s what they share space with that makes this home shine. There’s her collection of classic posters, local artworks and collectible objects, all in the most vibrant of colours.
‘Every area had to be considered, and then furnished, on its own terms,’ explains Laureen, who rejects the belief that there are predetermined formulas for how interiors should work. Here, she says, ‘that kind of prescriptive approach had to be transcended’.
Creating a home that’s respectful to its Bauhaus ‘bones’, yet bold, bright and innovative, it’s clear she’s succeeded.
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration July 2020
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