Women

Nicola Gross built her dream home around casual elegance and good family cheer...

As the owner of ACL Cosmetics. Reve Salon and Café Verdi in Chelsea Village. as well as director for Moor Skincare, Nicola Gross is one busy mother of three: two sons, Alexandre, 9, and Christian, 7, and a daughter Lucia, 5. So, when searching for a space that could offer her some respite from the urban frenzy, her focus was the old estate agent’s mantra, ‘location, location, location’.

She found her space in Bishops court, on the slopes of Table Mountain. ‘I love the area as it’s close to my children’s schools and my businesses. And the house is in a quiet street.’ Once she had the title deed, however, Nicola flattened the building and built her dream home from scratch. The process took 10 months, and in September last year, the family finally moved in.

Description: Nicola Gross built her dream home around casual elegance and good family cheer...

Nicola Gross built her dream home around casual elegance and good family cheer...

‘I wanted a contemporary yet classic home,’ says Nicola, ‘somewhere that had lots of open spaces that flow into one another but still feels cozy.’

And that it does. Given its size and newness, the house could so easily have turned out cold and echoey, yet it has a rambling, lived-in feel that makes you feel right at home. Children’s books and other toys lie scattered, the family dog Judo and cats Coco, Rico and Tequila bound through the hallways, and a sunny window scat next to a loaded bookshelf provides a quiet comer.

Description: ‘I wanted a contemporary yet classic home,’ says Nicola

‘I wanted a contemporary yet classic home,’ says Nicola

One of the key reasons for the relaxed air of the home is the colour palette, says Nicola. ‘There’s a misconception that blue and grey are cold colours, but I find them warm, tranquil and elegant, especially when they’re combined with hints of green.’ And of course, they’re hues that seamlessly flow into each other, which is great for when she’s entertaining large numbers of people and can open the sliding doors that separate the main living areas. Which is not to say tha tyou won’t find the odd splash of full colour. The library feature wall sports a red and gold Regency- style wall cover offset by a grand white fireplace and picked tip again in a deep red sofa.

Description: ‘One of the key reasons for the relaxed air of the home is the colour palette,’ says Nicola.

‘One of the key reasons for the relaxed air of the home is the colour palette,’ says Nicola.

Nicola lived in France for five years, and it shows. Every room seems an eclectic balance of French Provençal and English country manor in colours, textures and furnishings, with plenty of quirky personal effects thrown into shake the kaleidoscope, like theenormous silver cutlery artwork kon the wall or the square weave storage box in the conservatory, and the ornate retro chandeliers throughout.

On hot summer nights the glass doors of the conservatory fold back so the party can spill out onto the lawns and pool area. Here again, though, the emphasis is casual elegance — and fun: sun loungers and the kids’ other sporting kit lie around. ‘I love that there’s a lot of space for the kids to run around in.’ says Nicola.

But Nicola’s favourite space is the kitchen, which, with it’s charcoal cabinets and hob recess is pure Provence. ‘I love my kitchen, as I enjoy cooking. It’s a great space where friends and family can sit and chat while I prepare food.

The family’s individual bedrooms reflect each occupant’s personal style and interests and provide a welcome break from the bustle of a busy household. For instance, Alexandre loves soccer and Christian is passionate about motorcycles, so their feature walls and light fittings arc along those themes.

Description: It’s a great space where friends and family can sit and chat while I prepare food.

It’s a great space where friends and family can sit and chat while I prepare food.

For Lucia’s room Nicola chose pretty — from the pink heart motif wallpaper to the mini Louis XV armchair

.Finally, for her own private retreat Nicola opted for a sophisticated Provençal theme, to create a quietly dramatic haven in black and neutral tones, and a bathroom awash in natural light.

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