Bureaux House Douglas 3
Bureaux House Douglas

Space Odyssey

Words ― Robyn Alexander
Photography ―  Warren Heath

Bureaux House Douglas 3

By combining respect for the charms of a heritage building with a firmly contemporary architectural approach, an award-winning renovation has brought this Cape Town home beautifully up to date.

Bureaux House Douglas






The painted wooden Tintin figurine is from a local market and the artworks are by Unathi Mkonto and Conrad Botes.

Bureaux House Douglas 39

The black two-seater Quaker bench is made from steel by South African designer and furniture maker Gregor Jenkin. The hanging Diskus light in brass is also a Douglas & Company design and the small artwork on the left is by South African artist Michael Taylo.

Bureaux House Douglas 19
Bureaux House Douglas 10

The black Armchair 26, designed by Alvar Aalto, is from Artek and the beech wood HAY J110 chair sourced from Créma Design. The dog cushion on the Aalto chair is by Aaron Stewart, and was part of his contribution to the Design a Pet project for Hornet Toys. The artworks are by (from left): Hanneke Benade, Unathi Mkonto, Conrad Botes and Gabrielle Raaff. The vase on the coffee table is from Country Road.

The old ceiling beams were reused. The main living area of the house consists of open-plan living, dining and kitchen areas. The final twist of the staircase up to the new first floor is made from steel, and powder-coated in black, creating a graphic, sculptural element that draws the eye upwards. The coffee table is ‘The Stonekeeper-MMXVI’, a collectible design piece created by Douglas & Company made to order using powder-coated steel and marble.

Bureaux House Douglas 33

The dining area links the kitchen and living spaces in the open-plan public area of the house. The wood and steel table has a Formica top, and is a Douglas & Company design created for a previous interiors project. None of the dining chairs match: they are a mix of vintage pieces (including an Eames Eiffel chair and an Arne Jacobsen Series 7 chair) as well as a prototype piece – the slatted plywood chair.

Bureaux House Douglas 36

The fireplace is an original fixture: it was removed during the renovation and once multiple layers of paint had been removed from the surround and mantelpiece, it was discovered that they were made from this beautiful smooth black stone, which was then left as is. The abstract artwork on the mantelpiece is by Morné Visagie.

Bureaux House Douglas 51

Bureaux House Douglas 41






Delineated by a brick (rather than wood) floor, the kitchen area is neat and compact, with the central island – topped with an exquisite slab of Verde Guatemala marble from a local stone supplier – and integrated cupboards and appliances giving it a sleek and very smart feel. The wooden joinery was custom designed by Douglas & Company and the taps are by Still Bathrooms. The track lighting is from Spazio Lighting. The wooden monkey is a vintage and the succulent is part of Liani’s collection.

The entire upper floor of the house has full glazing on the south-facing façade, which has opened the rear of the house to an unexpectedly charming urban rooftop view, with Signal Hill rising up beyond this.”

Bureaux House Douglas 65

Bureaux House Douglas 60





The minimalist main bedroom also has a fully glazed rear façade with sliding glass doors and a simple black metal balustrade. The track lighting has been suspended from the ceiling here, and is from Spazio Lighting. Liani and Jan have had the bent plywood bedside tables for so long that they are unable to recall where they found them; the white table lamps are from Mr Price Home and the patterned blanket on the bed was designed by Mia Widlake for Mr Price Home in a collaboration project a few years back.

Bureaux House Douglas 61

Placed under the dormer window in the main bedroom is a slatted plywood bench that is a prototype for a range created by Jan Douglas for South African mass-market decor retailer Mr Price Home a few years ago. The sheepskin is from Woodheads and the pillow is by Renée Rossouw.

Bureaux House Douglas 56
Bureaux House Douglas 63