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White Light | Beautiful Home

The monochromatic interiors of this light-filled loft apartment belonging to Cape Town designer Francois Irvine are a true reflection of his creative collector’s eye.

The extra-long dining table is perfect for parties and special gatherings; the vintage café chairs along the one side were bought from a scrap collector, and the bench was made from a solid wooden beam and two tree stumps. The ornately carved wingback chairs are two of Francois’s favourite possessions, and were discovered years ago in a market in Egypt. In the seating area in the foreground, the simple lines of the two-seater sofa pair well with two four-legged, white-painted wooden stools from west Africa. Natural texture is added to the mix in the form of plain linen upholstery and animal hides.

Francois’ eye especially delights in the quirky and the handmade, with vintage items such as toy suitcases, cigar boxes and a collectible ceramic ‘guide to phrenology’ head figuring among the many vignettes of items that can be found dotted around the loft.

Grouping collectibles in multiple shades of white and cream creates a calming yet interest-filled effect. The artwork on the wall is an original Flip Coaton drawing from around 1965.

Cast metal figurines, cups and other quirky items form another of Francois’ curated clusters of collectibles.

The main sitting area in Francois Irvine’s loft in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, features a pair of French-style armchairs bought by him in Egypt and re-upholstered locally in cream linen. The central coffee table is covered with a local cowhide and the cast-iron wood-burning stove is a vintage collector’s piece sourced by Francois (and no longer in working use because ‘it smokes too much’). The two white-painted, four-legged wooden stools are from west Africa.

Lion’s Head soars above the homes, shops and mosques of Bo-Kaap through the original industrial doors on one side of the loft. Francois’s cat, Pepe, perches on the black loveseat, which is from Egypt and has been upholstered in a black T&Co Fabrics (tandco.co.za) damask velvet.

The extra-long dining table is perfect for parties and special gatherings; the vintage café chairs along the one side were bought from a scrap collector and the bench was made from a solid wooden beam and two tree stumps. The ornately carved wingback chairs are two of Francois’ favourite possessions, and were discovered years ago in a market in Egypt. In the seating area in the foreground, the simple lines of the two-seater sofa pair well with two four-legged, white-painted wooden stools from West Africa. Natural texture is added to the mix in the form of plain linen upholstery and animal hides.

Ideal for enjoying breakfast in front of the tall wooden doors that open onto the Bo-Kaap view are this wooden-topped café table and vintage chairs. Asked about their provenance, Francois simply says: “They have just always been around…”

On the open shelves in the kitchen, part of Francois’s large collection of vintage chemist’s bottles and jars is used to store spices. “I’ve been obsessed with them since I was a kid,” he says.

The petite guest bedroom is situated at the rear of the space, right up against the eaves of the building.

The spacious main bedroom has a set of west-facing clerestory windows through which the afternoon sun streams in.

In the main bathroom, an old wooden cabinet contains a collection of vintage and contemporary fragrance bottles.

Built-in shelving for necessities and collected treasures in the monochrome bathroom.

Words — Noreen Johnson | Styling — Shelley Street | Photography — Warren Heath