Hidden Gem: an eighties suburban bungalow in Cape Town

An eighties suburban bungalow in Cape Town was given a charming makeover by its new owner, jewellery designer Kirsten Goss.

Text Lori Cohen
Styling Sven Alberding, Bureaux
Photographs Greg Cox, Bureaux

Rows of cacti, china dogs, a whacky cluster of retro flush mounted lights on the wall, and a glass cabinet brimming with vintage cameras – all before you have stepped beyond the lobby. This is the kind of quirk that one has come to expect from the design dynamite behind Kirsten Goss Jewellery. Kirsten admits they took on the transformation of this home with the same out-of-the box intentions as she has when fitting out a new shop.

An unkempt garden that masked the mountain views was replaced with a structured plot with artificial grass to give them an outside room the kids could use without the dirt and upkeep element’, says Kirsten.

Capturing views of the Constantiaberg Mountains, by clearing the garden and shifting the bearing of the house, proved to be the making of the home. The ever-changing shades of the slopes now dominate the outlook, and Kirsten and Clive chose to contrast this placidness with a sweeping lawn dominated by a sexy circular pool and a series of round beds of water wise plants.

‘I call it our “crop circle garden”, laughs Kirsten. ‘We wanted it to be an inside-outside house. So much so that we chose to use artificial turf in the garden so it feels like a carpet. At night the lights make it a really dramatic space and our family moves in and out and we don’t need to worry about the kids getting dirty. It feels like we have another room to use,’ she explains.

Connection and flow were priorities so the pair chose to have ceiling-height glass and steel doors fitted to link rooms.

With children ranging from toddlerhood to their teens the home had to cater to flexible needs, but that didn’t mean they had to crimp on fun. The kitchen features light functions that can transform it from a family hub into a strobe and colour-filled ‘party’ zone at the flick of a switch and the ceiling-height doors in bold colours reflect Kirsten’s weakness for striking combinations.

‘Every time I fit out a new shop my house ends up looking like it,’ laughs Kirsten referring to the ‘disco’ and strobe lights that are fitted into the kitchen cabinets and inspired by her ‘karaoke-look’ store on Cape Town’s Foreshore. ‘I love the notion that we are having a regular family dinner but have disco lights on too. It’s all about being playful,’ she says.

‘I’m not afraid of mixing shades together,’ she continues, ‘but you almost have to be deliberate about it to pull it off. I’m not big on decorating. I’m more about throwing something down to see if it works,’ explains Kirsten.


Kirsten’s partner, filmmaker/photographer Clive Will, has added his own conspicuous contributions. A series of Clive’s eye-catching prints and his insatiable appetite for objets collected from artists, craftspeople and markets across Africa are curated throughout the home.

‘I think we have a penchant for the unexpected, the sometimes unloved and the brave, but we are also big on quality, longevity and comfort,’ explains Kirsten of their design choices. ‘I’d say we lean towards a clean, bold style, but we also get a lot of joy out of eccentric pieces,’ she says.

Furniture choices range from antiques, to mid-century modern and contemporary pieces, so the addition of oak parquet floors provided an anchor for the otherwise eclectic vibes.

Kirsten wanted a ‘bomb-proof’ area where the children could watch TV and relax. ‘They run in from the pool and jump on the sofa; they have sleepovers here,’ she laughs. ‘Every home needs a space you don’t feel precious about.’ A striking mix of shades in the lounge gives it a playful temperament, but the choices of a clean-lined modular couch and graphic steel coffee table ensures it retains a grown-up edge.

With an open-plan TV room, dining room and kitchen opening onto the garden the flow of rooms is both effortless and practical. An expansive (and it has to be said, irreverent) lounge forms a link between the family zone and the couple’s bedroom/bathroom – which is again a single zone that opens onto the garden. The children’s rooms can be found off a corridor that lies behind the kitchen.

Kirsten chose to replace all the doors and windows with oversized bespoke pieces made of oak or steel, and porthole and strip windows make for surprise views. This injects a plethora of natural light into the home and is indicative of the way she chose to experiment with shapes and scale throughout the property.

The bedroom opens up onto the bathroom creating a vast, hotel-like retreat.
However, Kirsten turned the concept of a spa-like bathroom on its head by injecting it with unusual elements. The seamless floor and wall tiles with black grout give it a graphic feel and bright artworks keeps it quirky in line with the rest of the house.

Kirsten has previously lived in heritage-style homes, so the switch to a more austere build provided the opportunity for a new design adventure. Brimming with fine art and vintage finds, Kirsten and Clive’s home reflect their down-to-earth sensibilities and makes for an engaging family home. Kitchen disco lights and all.