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you are here: DECOR: Houses | A stately Bishops Court home

A stately Bishops Court home

Top Billing location La Montagne 1

A tranquil retreat peeks out from its awe-inspiring surrounds and sets the scene for sharing a romantic glass of champagne or just getting lost in a good book.

An elegant revival

A stately home on the slopes of Table Mountain enjoys a mammoth make-over, proving that you don’t need to break the bank to get the goods.

production Colin O’Mara Davis  photography courtesy of Simon Aitken

Framed by perhaps the most exquisite natural splendour to ever enjoy human gaze lies La Montagne in the leafy recesses of Cape Town’s Bishops Court. This stately home boasts grand proportions and, as such, plays custodian to six enormous en-suite bedrooms, two comfortable interior lounge areas, an expansive dining room, billiard room, library and spa. Austerity in scale, however, can render even the most luxurious of homes a bit imposing and staid. Enter Simon Aitken of Baklan Projects, whose boisterous approach and bold aesthetic would reinvigorate the house’s former French Provençal-styled interiors.

Top Billing location La Montagne 2
ABOVE LEFT: La Montagne houses six enormous en-suite bedrooms, private lounges, a library, gym, sauna and spa. The estate also boasts a pool, jacuzzi, putting-green and tennis court.

ABOVE RIGHT: Africa and the East may be worlds apart, but the marriage of an Anglo-Indian flower-table on Nguni-hide is strikingly effective. Dynamic and graphical, a silver champagne urn with horns is softened by orchids and provides a dramatic focal point to the entrance-hall.

Simon’s method is organic; he is able to engage rooms in dialogue, to glean from them that which is necessary in order to appear balanced and cohesive. According to Simon, while the architectural styles certainly dictate the décor, it doesn’t necessarily require full period styling. A carefully considered eclecticism can be as, if not more effective.

Simon’s well-realised dining-room, although stylistically traditional, employs a daring forest green to the embossed wallpaper and an arresting abstract painting to balance the gargantuan dimensions. His approach to living areas is equally refreshing; comfort is paramount in these spaces and needn’t detract from the overall aesthetic, even if the prevalent styles are formal.

Top Billing location La Montagne 3

To introduce a fresher vernacular to the house’s established visual vocabulary, Simon introduced African and Eastern elements. The key is not to force the application. Here we might note more rustic textures and striking shapes, instead of the tacky bric-à-brac artefacts that so often show up in indigenously themed rooms. His interiors are also characteristically multi-layered; because of La Montagne’s considerably high ceilings, Simon activates the vertical space by introducing carved timber beds on the walls and underscores this with a leather couch directly below. The natural textures integrate to create cohesion and instill ‘trade-route’ worldliness to the room. Large, yet simple accessories balance the master bedroom while the dominating four-poster bed provides structure and framing, dramatically marrying interior and exterior.

Top Billing location La Montagne 5
ABOVE: The boys’ room, though highly stylised, retains a refreshing sense of humour. Custom-made headboards recall iconic Cape Dutch-style gables with rounded mirrors to complete the effect.

The overall impression of the estate leaves the casual visitor enriched by its wealth of natural wonder, composed to great effect by the architecture and its inspired interiors. Few other properties prove as eloquently as 
La Montagne that imagination and consideration can truly transform any home into an elegant retreat.

BELOW: Furnished in antique mahogany, the grandeur of the dining-room is ironically complemented by the cheekiness of the forest-green wall.
Top Billing location La Montagne 4
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