Getting thoroughly lost was what led this Cape Town couple to find their dream holiday destination, it turns out. Renee and Pedro De Sambento had spent months exploring properties up the West Coast, an arid, sun bleached stretch that hugs the icy Atlantic Ocean to the north of the Mother City. On one of their weekend property hunting expeditions a wrong turn led them to the Rocherpan Nature Reserve and an isolated plot with a ‘for sale’ sign. Within days it was theirs.
Casa Sanchia, named after their eldest daughter (their pad in town is called Casa Luz after their next born) may be a new build, but the whitewashed walls, the sandblasted, twisted myrtle tree pergola that graces the deck and the practical design make it feel as if it has been resting in these dunes for decades.
With no other homes in sight, and the beach a short hop from the front door, architect Marco Bezzoli from Archilab and Renee wanted to infuse the home with panoramic views. Otherwise, the brief was to create easy, open plan living that could comfortably accommodate a growing family and endless rounds of friends. The space is bright and breezy thank to high ceilings, exposed roof beams and raw grey concrete floors. A vast central living, dining space and open kitchen form the heart of the cottage and enjoy sweeping views of the coast, but the main bedroom and en-suite guest bedrooms also spill onto the lower deck.
A well-timed trip to Bali proved to be an inspiring experience – and a solution to their interior decorating woes. ‘The furniture at the hotel we were staying in was perfect. We asked the hotel manager and he gave us contact details of his supplier. We went to their factory and were able to order everything we needed, just as we wanted it,’ says Renee. ‘I wanted the cottage to be organic and elegant, and not too beachy. I also wanted it to feel South African, rather than African,’ she says.
Years of working on fashion shoots and advertising campaigns has taught Renee the beauty and power of light, and she wanted the cottage to look as beautiful at night as it did in daylight. ‘Ambiance is important. I spent a lot of time planning the lighting. Every room has a unique chandelier designed for it giving it it’s own identity and story.’
Time at the cottage is divided between long ambles on the beach and relaxing around the pool. ‘We have a tradition that our first morning there we go for a walk after breakfast in our pajamas. You can walk for an hour and see nothing around you,’ says Renee. It has proven to be a place where the family can get lost in time, even if it is only for a few days at a time