Overlooking the huge arc of False Bay to the south of the Cape Peninsula, Petrava House was built early in the last century for an Edwardian admiral who wanted to spend his retirement gazing down at his beloved former base at Simonstown with its conflict-free harbor and the expanse of ocean beyond. In the 1920’s and 30’s the house had its share of flapper parties and hedonistic scandals as locals and foreigners holidayed at the Cape Riviera; then faded a little as did the coastline’s appeal in post-World War 2 years. Today it’s the summer home of the Davies family, based in Hong Kong and London, who fell in love with its worn-out demeanour and went on to revive its glamorous pre-war elegance redolent of a life of leisure and entertainment, of balmy evenings and steamy soirees.
Graham Viney was the catalyst; “It was a challenge to incorporate 20-year-old furniture from the Davies’ Hong Kong home into the context of a pre-War Georgian/Cape-Riviera-style house,” he says. “We tried to cross-reference the furnishings from different cultures while keeping the whole light-hearted.” The aesthetic sensibility gracefully combines Oriental with Occidental with respect shown to both decorating traditions. Petrave is situated on a stretch of coast overlooking Muizenberg and St James, once the holiday destination of choice for smart South Africans- and still the only place left with brightly painted bathing boxes. The charm of False Bay itself has never palled.
You could be somewhere delightful on the Cote d’Azure; the distant blue haze is right and so are the palm trees, the vivid bougainvillea and the yachts bobbing about to the right near Simonstown. And inside Petrava House there’s a raffish glamour you often don’t find in South Africa- the high staircase hall with its shiny spiraling stairs, white-painted balustrade and ebony banisters, 1930’s German furniture, even the entrance portal adorned with lotus capitals smacks of an iridescent end of Empire sociability, martinis and gin slings. It’s also a little Hollywood, made for dramatic entrances and gestures, but with a delicacy and exotic flair that exemplifies the best of chinoiserie, traditional Chinese furnishings and modern Asian style. Text from Paul Duncan’s “Down South 2”
Coffee Table Book:
Petrava is one of the hideaways featured in our Perfect Hideaways in South Africa coffee table book.
This book celebrates hideaways, identifying precisely what it is that makes a holiday home ‘perfect’. From bush to beach, from city to wilderness, Perfect Hideaways in South Africa features a range of holiday homes that, by virtue of the peculiarities of their locations and distinguishing interiors, offer varieties of experiences.