Two award-winning photographers in one family guarantees great holiday snaps. But it doesn’t always mean you’ll have a home worth capturing on film. Unless you’re Jo’burg shutterbugs Dook and Leana Clunies-Ross.
Leana can’t believe it herself, but it took her and husband Dook more than a decade to repaint the previously terracotta walls of their Melville family home.
“Dook painted this house when I was in hospital after having our son, Koto, 16 years ago,” she says. “The terracotta he used was very warm, but we lived with it for so long that repainting became an important decision. Plus we’re very aware – even fanatical – about colour and light and how light changes colour.”
Of course they are. They’re photographers. And because they use the downstairs space as a studio, they had always kept the colours neutral. “But our love of the garden and wanting to bring the outside in and the inside out is what eventually inspired us to try cool colours,” Leana explains. “We love it. It has cooled everything down and made the space calming and tranquil.”
Cooling down the house
With the buzz of the photographic studio on the ground floor, the upstairs provides a much-needed haven to which Dook and Leana escape to spend time with each other, their son Koto and poodle Maxi, who’s usually found sprawled on the leather ottoman he’s now claimed as his own.
The couple started small. To test their “cool colour” theory they stripped wooden doors and window frames throughout the house and painted them in a Plascon Eggshell Walls & Trims tinted a soft green.
The colour passed the test. With flying colours in fact. So they let the cool approach flow into to the open-plan lounge, bedrooms and bathrooms. To enhance the natural light and the view through the large windows, they carefully composed a natural palette of chalky white, grey-blue and palest green, with thunderous grey accents.
The couple freshened up the lounge with Plascon Double Velvet Stardust (B5-C2-2). The result is a soft blue space flooded with natural light that offsets the beauty of a giant canvas that once hung in Leana’s mother’s house, and now takes pride of place here. The existing furniture, complemented by a new aviator chair, screen and tripod lamp from Weylandts, provides a warm contrast to the cool blue.
In the main bedroom, the aim was to complement the wall of off-white shutters, installed across the floor-to-ceiling windows. They matched the shutters with Plascon Double Velvet Alpine Mist (VEL 8) on the walls, a chalky off-white that works with the natural textures at play in the room – especially in the leather bed from Generation Furniture, the carved Indian wooden door the couple picked up at Private Collections in Cape Town, and the vintage daybed. An accent wall in Plascon Suede Organic Space (TSD 12) adds warm contrast and impact to the otherwise neutral palette.
For the guest bedroom, Leana and Dook wanted a cool colour that would tone with the rest of the house, and provide a soothing, sophisticated space for visiting family and friends. The walls are painted in smoky blue Plascon Double Velvet Silver Charm (B1-E1-4), an elegant shade that shows off their wooden sleigh bed to perfection, and picks up the blues in the Union Jack trunk and anglepoise desk lamp from Weylandts.
Moving through to Koto’s bedroom, they decided they needed a colour that would make the room feel bigger, and create a teen-friendly space where their 16-year-old could simply chill. The walls are painted in Plascon Double Velvet White Canvas (D13-1). It’s a chalky white that not only creates a sense of space and takes advantage of the light spilling in from the oversized windows, but also provides a neutral backdrop to Koto’s eclectic collection of comics and models.
In the bathroom, the aim was to create an indoor-outdoor feel that merges the room with the verdant garden beyond the floor-to-ceiling window. Plascon Velvaglo Feathery (B1-E2-3) was the perfect choice. The natural tone complements the stone floor and the antique Indian candle screen from Weylandts – and helps to blend the overall palette into the lush foliage outside.
How to: Use the coolest cool colours
Production Klara van Wyngaarden