A Victorian home with eclectic charm

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Craig Olckers’ home in Observatory, Cape Town is interior design dynamite in a small package!

Photographs Francois Oberholster | Styling Marian van Wyk

Who lives here?

Craig Olckers and his pooches, Zac and Zoe

Where Observatory, Cape Town

There are two things Craig Olckers is absolutely passionate about: flowers and interior design. In his home business, floral boutique Oolong Blue, he has turned his love of blooms into a thriving career. His love of design is expressed in his “downtime” – most recently having renovated his two-bedroom home in Observatory, Cape Town.

While modest in size, there is nothing average about Craig’s Victorian-with-a-modern twist abode.

This raw brick wall creates a striking contrast in the otherwise all-white interior. We love the combination of the Nguni hide and coir rug for warmth and texture. Round mirror from Weylandts; custom-made TV stand from Lim Furniture
We love this Parisian chic focal area at the end of the passageway. Although Craig’s home is filled with interesting pieces, he believes in keeping his space simple so that the overall impression is not one of clutter. Drinks trolley from @home; mouldings by NMC Decorative Mouldings

The front door opens onto a pristine all-white passageway, the walls adorned with tall mirrors framed with ornate mouldings added to draw the eye upward to the dramatic  chandeliers.

The elegant bedrooms and bathroom are simple and clutter-free and at the end of the passageway, an airy open-plan lounge, dining nook and kitchen open up onto an inviting courtyard.

While each space has a unique look, elements such as the white walls and floors; black and white tiles on the front and back stoeps; plush, jewel-toned furniture; and striking wallpapered focal walls create a cohesive feel.

The good thing about having a small home is that you can change the space fairly often – it’s really affordable. – Craig

Unsurprisingly, friends and family have sought Craig’s help when decorating their own homes and often encourage him to consider interior design as a career.

But, thus far, his love of flowers has always come out tops. “I love my current job and I don’t think I can give 100 percent to both. Decorating as a hobby allows me to really take joy in my own spaces; there’s no pressure and I can truly enjoy it,” says Craig who is now hunting for a new home to renovate. This home, of course, sold immediately to the first viewer!

Proving that light colours are not the only option in a small space, the cosy dining nook packs a punch with its black-and-white houndstooth wallpaper, purple velvet-covered deep-button sofa (which doubles up as storage) and dramatic chandelier. It all comes together to create the old-world charm Craig was after.

Dining table and black chandelier from Weylandts; purple sofa fabric from Hertex; chairs from Chair Crazy

The tropical theme in the lounge, with its botanical scatters and golden bamboo palm, is a clever way of creating flow as it matches the lush green of the courtyard. Before Craig renovated his house, the kitchen was squeezed into the current dining nook and a wall separated it from  the dining room, which is now the kitchen.

“Because a kitchen needs more storage space, it made sense to swap the rooms around,” says Craig, who loves to cook and entertain.

Wallpaper printed by ArtLab; sofa covered in velvet from Hertex and upholstered by Ashraf’s Upholstery; green scatters by Pezula Interiors; gold scatters from Woolworths; pouffes from Moroccan Warehouse

Craig found the small black and white tiles on special years ago and finally got to use them on the stoep at the entrance to his home. Here and in the courtyard, he uses white and charcoal walls to create contrast and to allow focal points to take centre stage. Succulents in wall planters make for a striking waterwise feature.
Pendants above island from Weylandts
I like each space to have its own story but they need to have elements that bring them together as a whole. – Craig

This courtyard off the kitchen was once an unsightly parking area covered in concrete! An avid entertainer, Craig decided to transform the 42m² into a relaxing space. He added hanging plants, an assortment of potted plants on the stoep, a wooden table and chairs on the lawn – and even a fish pond!

The greenery against the charcoal-coloured walls adds vibrancy while the checkerboard tiles and black-and-white awning mirror the palette at the front of the house, a smart way to carry through a theme.

Hanging pot plants from Weylandts; marble stoep tiles from Womag; awning from Solara Awnings

It’s all about the layers

Craig has created a luxurious atmosphere in his compact home; here are his top tips on how to achieve this look:

  • Add loose rugs to existing carpets for a warm, plush and textured effect. “I like layering coir carpets with Nguni hides and sheepskins to create a sense of abundance.”
  • Adding artwork to patterned walls creates interest, especially when using frames in varying shapes and sizes.
  • Layered bedding makes for an inviting and luxurious space; use textured throws, oversized pillows and comforters.

The headboard in the main bedroom is a showstopper! Craig had the colour on the walls specially mixed to pick up on the blue in the headboard pattern.

Craig turned a tiny bathroom and an en-suite from a neighbouring bedroom into one spacious bathroom. The neat, sleek mirror also serves as a storage cabinet.

Vanity from Coricraft; pendant from Hoi P’loy

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April 2023

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