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Set right on the dunes of the Bushman’s River in the much-loved seaside village of Kenton-on-Sea, Modidima is quite possibly the most beautiful beach house in this Eastern Cape haven. Designed specifically for family and special friends who always holiday together, architect Wynand Wilsenach worked closely with the owners to create a truly relaxed retreat. A love of cooking and a growing collection of South African art was the catalyst for these free-flowing interiors. Designed to take in endless views across the Bushman’s River and this pristine coastline, where wind-sculpted dunes undulate as far as the eye can see, the house is often awash with sunlight and sunsets are magnificent here. Entertaining is easy, and every piece of lovingly collected art was thoughtfully woven into the interiors by Johannesburg-based interior designer Tiggs Crozet.
Commissioned to work on the house from word go, Tiggs used a soothingly neutral palette, taking inspiration from the ever-changing colours of the tidal river waters and with an emphasis on understated luxury and comfort. ‘Classic contemporary is my look – more contemporary than traditional and with a warmth and love of layering.’ For the living area, she chose a new range of geometric-patterned cushions by Mark Alexander, and gorgeous linens and umbrellas from Evolution Product with sea anenome, kelp and fern designs. This natural theme extends to the embroidered water lilies on the dining chairs – a nod to the owners’ personal love story and a charming touch. Inviting chill spaces with no clocks and no television, allow families to cocoon away from their corporate lives and connect once again.
There’s a strong sense of Shaker throughout the house with bespoke joinery crafted locally and light solid-wood floors. Even the Shaker picture rail incorporates the architraves and tall display cabinets were designed especially to house delicate ceramics in the living room. ‘I’m passionate about ceramics and beautiful objets,’ says Tiggs, ‘and so I suggested that I curate a South African ceramics collection to complement the original art collection. I worked with Kim Sacks to find some of my favourite ceramists: Katherine Glenday, Farrah Hernandez, John Shirley, JP Wessels, Shelley Maisel, Elke Martins, Clementina van der Walt.’ Every piece has a story, every piece has soul. They create a focus in on either side of the late artist Benon Lutaaya’s collage, which was – from early days in the design of the house – always intended to hang above the fireplace. On the coffee table, a cluster of Lisa Fihrer’s delicate vessels complement equally beautiful books to enjoy on quiet afternoons.
There is no black, only navy, and endless soft hues of blue to create an easy sense of flow, allowing William Kentridge’s ‘World Cup’ (the onlyprint in the house) and Deborah Bell’s ‘She Wolf’ to be enjoyed fully. There’s a beautiful Maude Sumna in the downstairs bedroom and the downstairs bathroom and upstairs suites have a collection of Nelson Makamo’s work, whose paintings are also loved by Oprah. Wallpapers by Ardmore and Eijffinger were chosen especially for bedrooms but our favourite by far is the deep blue and gold Sandberg in the downstairs bathroom. And, of course, Pierre Cronje’s solid oak dining table and upstairs console are both timeless in their craftsmanship.
Architecturally, every view and every season has been sensitively considered here and salty sea breezes flow through the house to keep it wonderfully cool in summer, but there are sanctuaries and spaces for all weathers – including the protected pool garden behind the house where candles and lanterns invite languid evening dinners around the pool. The master bedrooms are spacious enough to have the comfiest loungers at the foot of the bed to take in the views, which are so spectacular that you’d be forgiven for slipping away regularly to read in this dreamy space… well, after all, that’s what restful holidays are all about.
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