This is about as far away from glitz and glamour as you can get,” laughs Irene Ivy as she scrambles up from the smooth round rocks on the beach towards the whitewashed weatherboard cottage that serves as her home away from home. And she’s right. Shut your eyes and all you can hear is the roar of the ocean, a light wind rustling the leaves of bushes in the indigenous garden and occasional cries from the seagulls wheeling in the open sky above.
While the likes of Cape Town and its sophisticated beaches have their own allure during the summer months, a break from the crowds and a chance to soak up nature and unwind are the drawcards to this more remote part of the South African peninsula, and this rustic retreat ticks all the boxes. The house sits on a promontory overlooking the Castle Rock Marine Reserve, a ruggedly beautiful coastal enclave en route from Simonstown to Cape Point.
‘Standing on the balcony facing the ocean feels like you’re on the bow of a ship,’ Irene says. ‘It’s a pristine piece of coastline, which is why we decided to buy here. Cape Point’s weather is often harsh and windy but it just adds to that feeling of being out at sea.’ Indeed, it’s the cottage’s panoramic 360-degree views – stretching all the way from Cape Point to Muizenberg, and looking across to Hangklip – that are its greatest asset.
Originally built in the early 1950s, the property was purchased by Irene eight years ago with the intention of using it as a holiday home for her family, and to rent it out to those who want to escape and recharge for a while. ‘It had not been touched for 50 years and had only been owned by one family,’ she says. ‘It was a simple brown wooden bungalow with small windows, but we recognised its special location.’
The renovation project took an action-packed three months to complete – quite an achievement considering how much there was to do. The garage was converted into a sunken living room complete with built-in L-shaped seating; walls in the kitchen were torn down to make the cottage more open-plan; as many sea-facing floor-to-ceiling windows as structurally possible were incorporated to make the most of the spectacular views; an outdoor shower that faces the sea, along with a brand new contemporary bathroom inside were installed; wooden floors were sanded down; and last but not least, the entire property was painted white, both inside and out. ‘My style is simple and modern with a seaside feel and I love bright light,’ says Irene.
Decorating the three-bedroom home was purposely kept to a minimum to ensure that the decor would not compete with the views. Indigo accents the predominately white scheme, while a limited focus on furniture means the few carefully chosen pieces stand out against the simplicity of the cottage. ‘My favourite item of furniture is the lobster pot chair in the sitting room, or as I like to call it, “the chair with a view”,’ says Irene.
Charming and comfortable as the house now is, in a location such as this, most of the family’s time is spent outdoors. ‘There’s nothing like savouring coffee on the rocks in the early morning and daily swims in the ocean,’ she says. And while the house sits right on the beach, a smattering of big boulders just off the coastline provides sheltered swimming pools that are a delight for children. Even during the winter months, when the Point’s notoriously wild and windy weather sets in, there is a cosy woodburning stove in situ – making this a house with a view for every season.
An abundance of marine life, including rare and harmless cow sharks, which are native to the area, means that whales can be seen in spring right from the living room. ‘This is a place to enjoy nature to the full – inside and out,’ Irene confirms. Indeed, the family rarely watch TV or DVDs here. ‘We read a lot, play board games, barbecue or loll about in the sea whenever we can. And there’s no better spot for sundowners,’ she adds with a smile.
This home is available for holiday rentals through Cape Villa rentals (capevillarental.co.za), and Perfect hideaways (perfecthideaways.co.za).