24 Oct 2017Last updated

International Homes

A colourful family home in Cape Town

This family home in Cape Town combines vibrant colour and bold visual flair with clean architectural lines

Robyn Alexander
Added 14:11 | June 21, 2016
  • Buster, one of the family’s golden retrievers, enjoys the shade in the ‘outdoor room’.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 1 of 14
  • The outdoor room’s folding glass doors can be opened fully or closed as required, depending on the weather.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 2 of 14
  • A variety of textures introduce vibrant colours into this living space.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 3 of 14
  • The casual ‘pyjama lounge’ area at the top of the stairs provides an informal spot for the family to gather.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 4 of 14
  • Kim’s daughter Anna sits below an iconic Slim Aarons’ print in the home’s entranceway.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 5 of 14
  • Bold colours and eye-catching prints fill the living room.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 6 of 14
  • The built-in kitchen cabinetry is painted an unusual shade of dark green, which forms a beautiful contrast against the white marble island and walls.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 7 of 14
  • No detail has been overlooked in the kitchen where the fridge exactly matches the charcoal counter top.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 8 of 14
  • An ombre wallpaper with its gradient of colour forms the backdrop for Kim’s home office.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 9 of 14
  • Anna plays in the elegant entrance hall.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 10 of 14
  • The decor in son Jamie’s room is bold and graphic with pops of bright red and green punctuating the monochromatic scheme.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 11 of 14
  • The black and white guest bathroom leads on to a private courtyard.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 12 of 14
  • Kim and Graham’s bedroom enlists a neutral colour scheme, which is brightened with yellow accents.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 13 of 14
  • Kim Stephen and her family.

    Source:Warren Heath/Bureaux Image 14 of 14

Stepping over the threshold of Kim Stephen’s gloriously colourful abode in Bishopscourt, Cape Town, is like virtually inserting yourself into her plethora of gorgeous moodboards, which are on show throughout the house. Vibrant colour is everywhere on the display boards, yet these bursts of brightness are also framed within the crisp lines of Kim’s classic yet contemporary style, which includes nods to elegant lines, beautiful fabrics and a few judicious touches of whimsy.

Kim’s home is a reflection of her moodboards: firstly, there is a sense of graceful classicism that includes a confident use of black and white. ‘These work as a foil to the vibrant colour – balancing and grounding it,’ she explains. Then there is the bold palette which, combined with a number of other strongly individual choices, gives the scheme a dynamic energy.

Another reflection of Kim’s penchant for classic elegance is the architecture of the house, which she describes as having ‘Georgian lines with modern edges’. Before it was completely renovated three-and-a-half years ago, it was a simple, rustic A-frame structure. Kim, her husband Graham and their son, Jamie, lived here for seven years before the remodel, then daughter Anna, who is three, was born shortly after.

Kim cleverly uses colour to balance these strong architectural elements in the various spaces. A good example of this is the dark green paint shade she chose for the built-in kitchen cabinets – an unusual selection that works to offset the visual power of the charcoal-framed fireplace at the other end of the open-plan living, dining and kitchen space. This area is the heart of the home, and is made even more family-friendly by including a cheerful children’s play area situated just off the kitchen space. While busy in the kitchen, it’s easy for Kim to supervise homework or just keep a watchful eye on what the youngsters are up to.


The owner Interior designer Kim Stephen shares her home with her businessman husband Graham, son Jamie, 10, daughter Anna, three, and their two golden retrievers, Buster and Bella.

The home The two-storey home consists of an outdoor room and kitchen with adjacent open-plan living and dining areas, and a guest suite on the ground floor, leading to an adjoining terrace and swimming pool. Upstairs, there is a casual lounge area, the master suite, a separate bathroom and dressing room, plus two en-suite children’s bedrooms.

Beyond the children’s area is a beautiful indoor-outdoor living space that was added to the house during the renovation. This ‘outside room’ can be closed up during inclement weather or completely opened to the elements during the city’s long, hot summers. The area has a custom-made terrazzo-tiled floor (the tiles, Kim reveals, are exactly the same as those used at the renowned Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, just outside Durban: she tracked down the original tile press in KwaZulu-Natal).

The patio area adjoins the garden with its inviting square swimming pool – as well as a wooden jungle gym for Jamie and Anna featuring a slide that runs directly into the pool – where an uninterrupted vista of Table Mountain above Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden gives the entire property a palpable feeling of expansiveness and freedom.

The guest suite and guest cloakroom are both on the ground floor, off the entrance hallway and along a passageway adorned with a large Slim Aarons’ photographic print hung above a bright green love seat, while the family bedrooms, as well as Kim’s petite home office, are upstairs. These all lead off a hallway that has been furnished as a casual ‘pyjama lounge’ where a glorious view across Cape Town towards the distant Durbanville hills can be enjoyed. While both children’s rooms are bold and colourful, the master bedroom is more muted and restful, with just the bright tones of the artwork above the bed adding an eye-catching splash. Both the bathroom and dressing room have been deliberately kept separate from the bedroom rather than being en suite, as is typical these days. The layout means that Graham, who travels a great deal for work, can get up and prepare to depart without disturbing anyone else in the house.

Another characteristic feature of this unique home is the fact that there is almost no built-in furniture throughout the house. ‘I prefer to avoid built-in items and instead use cupboards, storage units and cabinets that are all individual – and mostly custom-made – pieces,’ Kim explains.

Undoubtedly, Kim’s visual style is the product of meticulous research. She has methodically tracked down all sorts of items she envisaged as perfect for the family home, ranging from those old terrazzo-tile presses to wallpapers, unique artwork and custom-made furniture. The combination of such a thoughtful approach, combined with an innate sense of colour, reflects both confidence and panache, adding to the pleasure its end result affords.

Robyn Alexander

Robyn Alexander