Open house

My whole life I wanted to live close to the sea. There's something healing about it for me. I've lived here since 1993. I still remember my first phone number!

First Published in

Moving down from Johannesburg to Cape Town was a big adventure for me. I grew up there and loved it but when I moved down I didn't miss it. Probably becase I moved down with my kids, dogs and cat as well as other people who were involved in my business. It felt like my whole life had moved down with me so I didn't feel terribly displaced.

I believe that home should be a place where you can be yourself. It has to be like a nest. I know when most people look at it, mine probably won’t say ‘nest’ but it is to me. I did the décor myself and didn’t have to please anybody. I really enjoy that about my home.

I like to be able to see everything. I don’t like curtains. Even at night, I don’t drop the blinds. I like to watch the sea and the sky changing. My house in Sandbaai doesn’t even have a cupboard. I think it comes from being married to people who liked having things hidden away in cupboards and boxes. Also, when I was growing up, my mum used to have this huge bunch of keys and everything in our home was under lock and key, so obviously I have a thing about it! I like the freedom of being in my own home. Nothing should be covered or tucked away. Even my fridge has glass doors.

I believe in surrounding myself with simplicity. I don’t think you should have ornaments for the sake of it. Everything in my house has special significance to me. Shakespeare’s first folio – that was my grandfather’s. The flute was my attempt at being musical - that was an absolute disaster!

My favourite room in the house is my bedroom – my bed’s built in cement and one wall is done in corrugated iron. I think galvanised iron is just fabulous. I used to see a lot of it in Johannesburg on the mines and I just loved it. The shower, of course, doesn’t have a door!

This house wasn’t originally a double-story building. It was actually a granny flat for the house next door. But I just knew that this space was exactly what I wanted. It was the ugliest thing with window boxes and brown brick paving so I got an architect in and renovated it. When you’re involved in the building process, when you have input into it – a home just becomes even more special. Probably the only thing I’d change would be to have a real garden. I like to grow stuff.

My friends are an extension of my home. My friends know they can drop in anytime – I like that. It’s wonderful to have people around. We make food and everyone gets involved. I don’t know my neighbours really except one guy. On the one hand I like my house to be open, but I also don’t particularly want to be Mrs-Mingler-on-the-block. Even in my school days, I wasn’t into knowing everybody. I guess the difference between neighbours and friends is you don’t get to choose your neighbours. They’re there and that’s that.

People you surround yourself with have such a huge impact on your experience of life and you have to choose people you’re comfortable and relaxed around. I find there’s space in not being involved with your neighbours. Maybe if I gave them a chance or if they gave me a chance I’d find we have something in common.

Photographs by Roy George.