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Paradise found in Zimbai Estate

Zimbali decor on Top Billing 1

ABOVE: The construction of a large, elevated wooden deck that runs along the full length of the house and around the pool creates a perfect entertainment area that takes advantage of the stunning views across the estate. Tropical plants and trees were added to give the garden a lush island-style feel.

Paradise found in Zimbai Estate
words Colin O’Mara Davis production Colin O’Mara Davis photographs Gunther Gräter

Mesmerising sea views, pristine golf greens and a home radiating island elegance – it didn’t take much to enchant one city-slicker family. We spoke to designer Horak Venter on what it took to create this family home.

How did this glorious setting influence the orientation of the house on its site? The home sits slightly elevated to maximise the surrounding views of the beautiful Zimbali Eco Estate. It is a layered vista that overlooks a natural stream and small wetland area in front of the home, beyond which is the golf course, followed by a lake and then the sea. The main lower-level open-plan living and entertainment areas have been situated to take full advantage of this sea-facing view. There is an amazing sense of space as you walk outdoors onto the sea-facing side of the house, but this staggered vista prevents the house from feeling over-exposed. The four upstairs bedrooms are also treated to very fine views.

Zimbali decor on Top Billing 2

There must have been a great level of trust to manage a project for clients based in Joburg? We met the clients while completing another home further on. They came over to speak to us and we hit it off immediately. They were impressed with the job we were doing and so trust was established immediately. They were fast movers. An initial meeting took place and we were asked to put together a presentation.

Where do you find new inspiration for every project? Usually it is a single idea that surfaces and everything radiates from there. In an eco estate you cannot but be inspired by nature, although we were careful to look past the obvious. We were struck by the beautiful muted shades and textures seen in the subtropical climate surrounding us, so we decided to use the fabrics as a means of conveying this theme. Natural fabrics used include leather, printed cottons and embroidered silks, which help to create tiers of textures and interest. The entire home has been done in grass wallpaper, which adds yet another dimension to the composition. It was a bold route to take but we believe wallpaper achieves real success only when it is approached with conviction. Here it simultaneously retains its identity and pulls the whole scheme together.

Zimbali decor on Top Billing 3

You used colour very subtly. For each client certain colours trigger different responses. We try to remain aware of these, either working with or around the client’s personal preferences when creating their space. In this home a palette of earth colours was interspersed with some slightly sharper accents for lift. The result is a sense of tranquillity well-suited to a home where people come to relax and recharge.

What was your overall objective? What we really wanted to achieve here was a comfortable luxury with a level of sophistication, but also with that little bit of something different. We decided to make a feature of the decking by extending it all the way from the front approach to the front door… and taking it along the full width of the house to the end of the property. The wood frames an azure-blue pool clad in natural stone. Originally there was just a small patio and a patch of grass. Now the decking offers a generous, elevated entertainment area. The garden was re-landscaped to play on a more tropical feel. We tried to imagine the owners arriving, stepping up onto the deck and brushing past the lush vegetation towards their haven. The house welcomes you in and ushers you towards the view at the end of the property. There is a spacious flow, yet the house remains intimate, perfectly suited to the closeness of the family who holiday here.

Horak Venter Design, 031-561-6914,

Zimbali decor on Top Billing 4
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