House Ebenezer

A measure of texture

06 OCTOBER 2018


Situated on the bank’s of the Ebenezer Dam, Limpopo, this majestic holiday home was an exercise in the honesty of real luxury.

Known as ‘the land of the silver mist’, this part of South Africa is as interesting a choice for a holiday home as it was for the clients to appoint Cape Town-based interior design firm, AB Design.

For Aidan Bennetts, working out of his comfort zone was part of the allure of the job; from the interesting and volatile landscape and climate with it’s abundance of rain– completely different to the climate of the Mother City- to having to discover for himslef, and to train, the local contractors and trades people to work on the job.

To say it was challenging is a mild interpretation of the complexity of this job where aside from a complete fit out of the interiors, Aidan and his head interior designer Andries Van Niekerk, were tasked with landscaping. This included creating a multi-tiered cinder-block layout with Deadman stays. ‘This was all very new to me as it involved a lot of engineering thought, not typically within the jurisdiction of an interior designer,’ says Aidan. But he relished the challenge and is proud of the result

Within the walls of the home however, Aidan and his team’s distinct approach to design really captures the imagination with a layered creativity that reflects the complex methodology of the structural intricacies on the steep site. The 5-bedroom home, although extravagant in size, espouses a homely and textured quality that manages to tread the line between opulence and considered minimalism. According to Aidan the brief from the client was that the home needed to be free from unneccessary clutter as a way to really unwind from city life and to bring in the ambiance of the idyllic surrounds. This approach resonated with Aidan’s preferred asethetic, well thought-out minimalism. ‘The beauty of a considered minimalist approach is that it’s contradictory to what people tend to think an interior designer does. It’s an exercise in discipline to design with a minimalist mindset, the natural tendency is to overcompensate and to add more to a space, as opposed to taking away from it,’ he says.

The way he achieved this was by focusing on a multifaceted approach to textures. Throughout the home there is a very layered and interesting patina of colours, materials and applications, like in the master-bedroom, which is one of Aidan’s favourite nodes in the home. Here there is a mix of smooth and rough textures in the overall aesthetic evidenced in the raw granite floors, the spun solid brass tables and the custom made solid wood king bed with leather upholstery. ‘There always needs to be a balance; smooth, soft and rough need to work alongside each other to create a delicate balance of contrasts,’ he says.

As the first anniversary of the completion of this exceptional home nears, the family who occupies it have stayed true to the minimalist principles upon which it was created, without adding any unnecessary clutter. Says Aidan,

“The aim was to create a home that was loved not for its opulence but for it’s honesty, it makes it all worthwhile when the clients just get it.”

Aidan’s top tips on layering the texture without overkill.

Explore a wide variety of materials that you love and that work with your project, collect these samples and lay them out all together.

  1. Pair items that you feel work together and establish these relationships, try to create “soothing contrasts”.
  2. Decide on one main feature in the space and let the other design decisions revolve around this core element.
  3. Pay close attention to the functionality of the space, no point in doing a delicate wallpaper in a space that is frequently used by messy kids as it will only be ruined in time.
  4. Visualize yourself in the space, be your own biggest critic and cull poor ideas with ruthlessness.
Genevieve Putter