A Sea Change

Cape Town-based design practice Antoni Associates draw on tried-and-tested design strategies involving glass and light to create a modern beachfront apartment.


A semi open-air space, the terrace is partly sheltered by a timber pergola which allows for a more intimate entertainment space.

Open relationships are tricky. They are based on non-attachment, leaving plenty of room to roam free. At the same time, there is a steady undercurrent of heavier connections. Acknowledging and nurturing the duality of this kind of relationship requires a well-balanced, evolved approach. One that Antonio Associates has managed to master and illustrate rather effectively with the Clifton Beach house. In its latest project, the award-winning, Cape Town-based design firm has successfully maximized the footprint of a 594-square-metre duplex without compromising on the apartment’s overall sense of seamlessness.

Located on the ground floor, the triangular terrace is sandwiched between the lounge and one of the bedrooms. Edged by a lap pool, it overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

Located on the ground floor of an approximately two-year-old luxury residential complex, the original plan included a double-volume space over the dining and living areas. One that the clients, ironically, found constrictive, owing to the structural beams and columns punctuating it. Moreover, they wanted to utilize the double height — space-hungry Mumbaiite style — to include a fourth en suite bedroom with a study and a gym with sauna. This resulted in the original interior plan going under the hammer. The new plan also made room for a wine cellar next to the entrance lobby, which incidentally, was partially cut off from the open kitchen via a screen wall. A porthole punctured into the wall allows visual connectivity between the lobby and the rest of the open plan public spaces. There’s that well-balanced, evolved approach we were talking about. “The context of the portal window immediately sets the tone for this beach home,” says the firm.

The dining area as seen from the entrance lobby.

The double height of the entrance hallway — that branches out into various spaces on the ground floor — was left untouched. Extending to the first floor, this lofty volume is encased by frameless glass walls, thus seamlessly connecting both levels of the home. Functionally speaking, the upper level can be accessed via a curvilinear stairway that lands onto one of the two highlights of the home: master suite (the other is the sea-facing terrace, but more about that later).

The master suite is a micro apartment in itself with a study and casual lounge. While the former overlooks the double-height hallway, the latter, along with the master bedroom, is tucked further in and enjoys a view of the oceanfront terrace. Both sections of the master suite are connected via a circular lobby. Also located on the upper level, is a private gym and sauna as well as a guest room.

The living area is furnished with an eclectic mix of bespoke furniture and is punctuated by the clients’ collection of South African art.

On to the second highlight of the Clifton Beach residence. Slotted between two guest bedrooms and the formal living area, this semi alfresco space is a slice — or geometrically speaking, wedge — of heaven for ocean-lovers. Complete with a 20-metre-wide infinity-edge lap pool, the ocean-facing deck is partially sheltered by a timber pergola “to create a more intimate entertainment space by providing a shaded area as well as privacy from overlooking apartments.”

The staircase opens to a casual lounge and study on the first floor. A feature fire plinth adds drama to this area.

All interior and exterior spaces are subtly bound together by a neutral colour scheme that echoes the home’s natural surroundings: white, black, earthy browns and hints of blue. “There is an absence of colour and the approach is simpler. However, the interior spaces feel very detailed. French-polished wood contrasts with textured crisp white linen,” explains the firm. The common material underfoot is oak with a white-washed finish, which effects “a sense of barefoot luxury.” Plain white walls form the ideal backdrop for the owners’ collection of South African art and an eclectic picking of bespoke furniture. Additionally, simple white American shutters add an element of airiness throughout the apartment.

White American shutters, as seen in this guest bedroom, lend the home a stripped-down, air appeal.

The wine cellar and the master bathroom are the only two interior spaces that stray in material cladding. “Bleached maple joinery was detailed for the wine-tasting room to house the clients’ collection of South African wines,” states the firm. The master bathroom flaunts white veined marble, chromed fixtures and stainless steel-detailed vanities. Of note here is the double shower with its ‘privacy glass wall’ that sections off the bathroom from the bedroom, while offering additional views of the ocean. At the flick of a switch the glass becomes opaque for privacy.

Antoni Associates has once again done what it does best. The practice has effortlessly created pockets of warmth and intimacy in what could have been an overpowering voluminous abode. A residence that would easily slip into the cityscape of any global metropolis, all the while holding onto its own cultural identity.


Reconfigure double-level apartment to include a fourth master bedroom, wine cellar, study and a gym with sauna


Walls Smooth plaster and paint (white orchid) and 25-cm timber profiled skirting Feature walls White Orchid lacquered fielded timber panelling, white and grey veined marble wall cladding and smokey grey mirror with bevelled edging Flooring Wide solid timber limed oak planking, and white and grey veined marble (kitchen flooring and en suite bathrooms) Ceiling White-painted plasterboard with feature bulkheads and light trough details and shadow cornices Furniture and lighting Custom-designed by Antoni Associates along with sourced pieces from brands such as Cecile and Boyd, La Grange, John Jacobs, Pierre Cronje, etc


Project Clifton Beach Location Clifton, Cape Town Design firm Antoni Associates Project team Mark Rielly & Vanessa Cannon Completion 2010


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