Getting thoroughly lost was what led a South African couple to find their dream holiday destination. Renée and Pedro De Sambento had spent months exploring properties along Cape Town’s West Coast, an arid, sun-bleached stretch that hugs the Atlantic Ocean to the north of the city. During one of their weekend property-hunting expeditions, a wrong turn led them to the Rocherpan Nature Reserve and an isolated plot with a ‘for sale’ sign. Within days it was theirs.

Casa Sanchia, named after their eldest daughter (their property in town is called Casa Luz after their next-born) may be a new build, but with whitewashed walls, sandblasted floors and a twisted myrtle tree pergola that graces the deck, it feels as ifit has been resting in these dunes for decades.

With no other properties in sight, and the beach a mere hop and a skip from the front door, Renée wanted panoramic views of the pristine beach to take centre stage. The brief to architect Marco Bezzoli from Archilab was to create easy, open-plan living that could comfortably accommodate a growing family and endless rounds of friends.

The space is relaxed and simple, thanks to high ceilings with exposed beams and raw concrete floors. A vast central living and dining space and open kitchen form the heart of the cottage and enjoy sweeping views of the coast, while the main bedroom and en suite guest bedrooms also spill on to the lower deck.

A well-timed trip to Bali proved to be an inspiring experience – and a solution to their interior decorating woes. ‘The furniture at the hotel we were staying in was perfect. The hotel manager gave us the contact details of his supplier and we visited the factory and were able to order everything we needed, exactly as we wanted it,’ says Renée. ‘I wanted the cottage to be organic and elegant, and not too beachy.’

Years of working on fashion shoots and advertising campaigns has taught Renée the beauty and power of light, and she wanted the cottage to look as beautiful at night as it did in daylight. ‘Ambience is important. I spent a lot of time planning the lighting. Every room had a unique chandelier designed for it, which gives each space its own identity and story.’

Time at the cottage is divided between long ambles down the beach and relaxing together around the pool. ‘We have a tradition that on our first morning here we go for a walk after breakfast in our pyjamas. You can walk for hours and see nothing around you,’ says Renée. It has proven to be a place where the family can get lost in time, even if it is only for a few days.


The Owner Hair and make-up artist Renée De Sambento and her restaurateur husband Pedro share their holiday home with their two daughters, Sanchia, nine, and Luz, five.

The Home Set within Rocherpan Nature Reserve, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Cape Town, Renée and Pedro’s home is spread over two levels. An open-plan living and dining area, kitchen, guest room and bathroom occupy the ground floor, while an en suite bedroom and master suite are situated on the first floor.

Get the look

Clockwise from far left: Cushions Designers Guild at Maison d’Art, Dh520 each; Modular sofa Home Centre, from Dh2,395; Dining table West Elm, Dh2,650; Glass cloche Zara Home, Dh209; Lamp Indigo Living, Dh890; Side table Concept Me, from Dh2,900.

Images by: Warren Heath/Bureaux