Fresh ideas for using scale in your décor

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These four spaces show the important role scale can play in your décor.

Photographs Henrique Wilding, Francois Oberholster and Elsa Young/Frank Features

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Finding the perfect wall art for a bedroom can be tricky! How do you create a tranquil atmosphere without it becoming boring? Should you choose wallpaper for texture, a series of smaller artworks or one large piece for added impact?

In the Blue Disa, a two-bedroom cottage on the Johannesdal 1207 estate near Pniel outside Stellenbosch, a characterful old wall map takes pride of place. It was a vintage find that Dané Erwee, one of the co-owners, restored before using it to decorate the space. “What appealed to me is that the paper is so old that it actually looks like fabric,” says Dané.

“I made the ottoman from collected tapestries; I love the dialogue between the sailing ships and map above. In fact, the ottoman only ‘made sense’ once the map was added to the space.”

In broad strokes

In the spacious bathroom-cum-dressing room in the Water Lily Suite at Johannesdal 1207, a huge potted fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) has been placed against the edge of the bath.

This imposing feature, together with other potted plants, forms a partial screen that helps define the open-plan space. “The bathroom is too big, so the idea was to simply fill the space with lots of indoor plants,” says Dané Erwee, who did the interior design and styling along with René Slee. 

Another way to incorporate scale in your décor is to paint a broad band of colour (like the light pink strip here) at floor height around the entire space. This works especially well in a room with high ceilings.

Island style

Architect Johann Slee and his wife René have created a farm kitchen that’s a dream space for antique lovers: instead of built-in kitchen cabinets, they chose a collection of large vintage furniture pieces. The showstopper is a giant tailor’s counter that René bought from Piér Rabe Antiques a few years before they built the house, knowing that one day she would find a use for it. “In the meantime, I lent it to friends to use as a counter in their shop,” she says. Eventually, the counter determined the length of their new kitchen.

 “The other furniture in the space has come a long way with us. Johann made sure that there was enough wall space to accommodate everything.”Thanks to a concealed scullery and spacious pantry, there was no need for lots of storage in the kitchen. Utensils are kept out of sight in deep shelves under the counter. The combination of natural colours and textures wasn’t really planned, says René. “If you stick to the things you love, they will create the perfect picture.”

It’s in the detail
An aluminium shutter behind the stove serves as security and shields the kitchen from the late afternoon sun. “The window can slide open and the shutters can be closed, allowing for good air circulation.”
This space feels more like an extension of the living room than a kitchen – just the way we wanted it. – René

The Slees bought the marble basin at Gilles Botbyl long ago and had it fitted on top of the tailor’s counter.

Screen time

Johann Slee kitchen, stoep, rock cladding, pool, v
Printing by ArtLab; roller blind made by Somerset Blinds

Sonette Barnardt of Somerset West has cleverly hidden her flat-screen TV behind a roller blind made from one of her own paintings that she had printed on hemp. “I took the fabric to a local blinds company and they accepted the challenge to turn it into a roller blind for me!” she says. 

The painting can be unrolled to reveal its full glory, while the dark paint on the wall behind it further enhances the seamless camouflage. The house has a separate TV room, so Sonette didn’t want the telly to dominate this space as well.  


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April 2023

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