‘It’s the most uplifting space I have ever lived in,’ says interior designer and artist Lisa Twyman of her home in Salt Rock, a small town on South Africa’s Dolphin Coast. ‘It makes you feel free, positive, motivated, excited.’ Part of the reason for this is undoubtedly the way it suits the area’s tropical climate that allows for year-round indoor/outdoor living.
With her husband, Will Haynes, and their children – daughter Bo, nine, and son Jock, seven – Lisa spent some time living nearby in a rental property before deciding on the ideal piece of land on which they could build their dream home.
‘We fell well and truly in love with the plot,’ she adds, ‘so the project became very much about the garden.’
During the first few years they lived there, any extra budget available was spent on planting, but it was important to Lisa that they didn’t ‘impose on it, or mess up the flow too much’. This meant that the central courtyard encircles three trees (indigenous Vachellia robusta) that reach up through the building.
The key principle, she explains, was that ‘the house needed to become part of the landscape and not feel plopped onto it’, which is what the couple have achieved. The ground-floor living area opens almost entirely to the outdoors, with this ‘blurred boundary’, as Lisa describes it, enhancing its open-plan nature. Simple, low-maintenance materials, such as unadorned concrete and Balau wood (chosen for the cladding and screens), also keep things organic.
When it came to decorating, Lisa says the ‘concept was to create a relaxed, yet creative, space’ and to keep things ‘minimal, playing with colour and texture – as well as a few touches of pattern – until the interior became an oasis of calm in a riot of green garden’.
Ensuring that it felt uncluttered was important so as not to distract from the sculptural qualities of this house, but that didn’t mean taking a brutalist approach. Quite the opposite. Lisa, who in her work shows a confident command of colour, relished the freedom of curating her own space.
Some of her choices are unexpected – like combining the punchy tones of her self-designed ‘Mannequin Pink’ sofa with ‘Deep Orange’ cushions – but that only adds to this home’s air of optimism.
Maybe it’s because of this positive atmosphere that this is such an active household and, despite its shaded layout ensuring that even during South Africa’s long, hot summers the rooms remain cool, the majority of family time is spent outside. ‘The kids are always to be found in the pool during the afternoons and evenings, as are we on the weekends,’ says Lisa.
Moments of quiet, though, are essential and, for both Lisa and Will, the loveliest place in their home is their tranquil bedroom. ‘The place where you start and end your day is so vital to your wellbeing,’ explains Lisa, who describes this space as ‘a simple box’ with an outlook that frames a vista of the nearby Indian Ocean. ‘It’s great for a siesta, and the best view to wake up to.’ lisatwyman.com