Spotlight on Property: Artistic Expression

Text Graham Wood
Production Sven Alberding
Photographs Elsa Young

This reinvigorated late modernist home at the foot of Table Mountain has become an ever-evolving personal exhibition space for its gallerist owners and their young family.

Candace and William Marshall-Smith decided to renovate their Cape Town home while Candace was still energised after the renovation of her fine art gallery, SMITH, in the historic city centre.

Candace is seen here with children Tessa, Max and Stella, their dog Judge and their cat Fifi. The George-Nelson-style pendant lights are from Spazio. The large artwork in the stairwell is by Katharien de Villiers. The wooden artwork visible below the stairs is by Tiago Rodrigues, and the work above the server is by Rosie Mudge.

Not long after moving from Johannesburg to Cape Town with their young family, Candace and William found a house in a wonderful spot in Oranjezicht in Cape Town’s City Bowl. The house itself was a fairly unremarkable 1970s double-storey. “It looked like a school building,” laughs Candace, “but it had a wonderful sense of space, which is rare in Cape Town. It had incredible views of the city and Lion’s Head to one side, and it’s right at the foot of Table Mountain.”

A terraced garden brings the rocky landscape and indigenous vegetation on the slopes of Table Mountain right to the edge of the swimming pool. Candace points out that at the top of the staircase is a level expanse of lawn, which is a wonderful play space for the children.
In the living room on the southern side of the house, a beautiful double-volume space with huge floor-to-ceiling windows lets in views of Table Mountain as it cascades right down to the house. “We have a lot of glazing and no eaves,” says Candace, so the views are vast and unobstructed. The light on this side of the house is soft and indirect, so it doesn’t get too hot. Candace was adamant that she wanted to retain the original window with its grid of timber frames, which let in views and light. Architects Stuart Thompson and Matt Pretorius extended it with a complementary asymmetrical grid of floor-to-ceiling windows, which might resemble a De Stijl/Mondrian design, but was largely inspired by the stonework around the 70s fireplace. The furnishings combine reupholstered pieces from the family’s original collection (such as the green velvet armchairs) with mid-century pieces designed and made-up by decorator Christine Joubert or sourced on the auction market. Natural textures, such as the handwoven grass carpet, stone coffee table and timber panelling create a muted, neutral palette that allows the views full expression.

A terraced rocky garden with a beautiful stone staircase seems to bring the mountain right down to the edge of the house, giving it a strong presence and sense of place. Yet, somehow, it’s potential had been overlooked, perhaps because of its inelegant architecture. But the position and 360-degree views were enough for Candace and William. “I just remember being astonished at the views,” says Candace. And they could see potential in some of the house’s late mid-century features.

Timber sliding doors open onto a nook on the north-facing balcony, where you can still enjoy the views of Lion’s Head and the city, even when it’s windy

Nevertheless, she and William didn’t renovate immediately. “We lived in it for three years,” she says. “We had time to consider what we wanted to do.”

Besides, Candace was rather taken up with the launch of her gallery in a beautiful, idiosyncratic heritage building in Church Street in the historic city centre. After the success of that project, however, she was ready for another challenge and decided to renovate.

The kitchen opens partially to the lounge, with a kitchen peninsula/breakfast bar forming a low barrier between them, which usefully demarcates the space while keeping the treetop view through a picture window unobscured. The joinery was by Coastal Kitchens Cape Town. The bars stools are from Stokperd. The ceramics on the counter are from Vorster and Braye.
In the main bedroom, the coffee table is from Weylandts. The artworks above the bed are by Dale Lawrence.