From the sanctuary of the west coast’s sparkling lagoons to the rocky scapes of the succulent-strewn Karoo, South Africa’s landscapes are at once stark and spectacular, lush and enveloping. Kate takes a lot of her inspiration from exploring its reaches, reveling in the colours that reveal themselves at different times of day, in the interiors discovered off the beaten track, and the makers she’s met along the way. Perfect Hideaways has built a portfolio of unique properties and beautifully curated escapes from around the country.
Read Kate's interview with founder Helen below.
What was the first property you introduced to Perfect Hideaways?
The first property in our portfolio was Whalers Way in Churchhaven, which we built ourselves. It was a holiday house for us to use, along with a few other families who bought shares in it with us. We developed it and this was how the Perfect Hideaways story started… totally unplanned! It was huge fun at the time, and it is still such a pleasure to spend time at Whalers Way, right on the edge of the Langebaan Lagoon, immersed in nature. One of our family’s happy places!
What elements do you think make the perfect hideaway?
A hideaway has to have a unique and special location. Nature and proximity to water are very important. Style and design, beautiful interiors and outdoor living spaces with ooodles of shade for those hot summer days. Big, open indoor fireplaces, outdoor firepits, beautiful art pieces and hand-crafted ceramics. Lighting is also key; good lighting for cooking, soft lighting for relaxing. I love lots of candles too, so easy to create a calm ambiance with candlelight. Quality bed linen and fab beds which are so comfy you don't want to leave them! There’s no formula or definitive tick box. It's a combination of so many things that add together to create these special havens.
What designers do you admire at the moment?
My daughter Jessica is creating beautiful porcelain and terracotta bowls and ceramics. She tests them out on me first and it makes me so happy to use them, as they are exquisite!
I'm also obsessed with the Whiteman & Mellor Fabrics. It's incredibly versatile, I’ve used it to dress up old couches, headboards, lampshades and to dress windows… you name it! (Shop our collection here)
A new local fragrance and soap that I'm loving is Tres Nagual made in Cape Point. It's really something special and makes a wonderful gift.
For the kitchen, I'm a long-time fan of Mervyn Gers ceramics. The green and mustard colours are always winners for me. They dress up any kitchen, and combined with African Jacquard or Mungo textiles they add great pops of colour, texture and showcase some cool African design.
What is your favourite piece in your own home?
Our three-metre-long Yellowwood table has hosted so many feasts and parties with family and friends. It has been perfect for school work, art projects, large puzzles and many scrabble games, I have watched my beautiful children transform into gorgeous grown-ups at that table!
Where would your dream hideaway be?
My dream hideaway is isolated and near a body of water, preferably one which is warm and crystal clear… ideally on the beach of an island! We are so lucky to live in Africa as there are many places where we can access this with ease.
Which property or destination do you go back to again and again - and why?
We go back to Churchhaven as we love being so close to the lagoon, living off-grid and so simply there. It really helps us to relax and connect as a family. My clan love being on the water, sailing, SUPing, or simply collecting treasure from the beach. We have huge polished glass collections, sea urchins and flamingo feathers we’ve beachcombed over the years. We absolutely love it there… it never gets boring.
How can we add elements to our own homes to make them feel like a ‘perfect hideaway’, every day?
Layers, add layers! Beautiful soft blankets in natural fabrics, squashy feather-filled cushions and fabulous fabrics which are good to touch, big vases of fresh garden flowers, scented candles. Olive branches in glass jars. Handcrafted ceramics, interesting books on the shelves and piles of coffee table books. Beautiful drinking and wine glasses. We love Ngwenya from Swaziland! Gorgeous bedding and full down duvets. Extra bed throws which are stylish and interesting, adding a splash of colour. Lovely woven baskets from Madwa. Large bath towels from Mungo, I love the waffle weave ones; they are supersized, yet easy to dry. Great quality kitchenware, it lasts for years and possibly a lifetime, so worth the initial investment. Lastly, good bathroom products. We adore Africology, they have a great range. Love is in the detail, and a home with considered and curated layering, added over the years, makes my heart sing!
What is your own interiors' style?
We are a big family and our home is all about living and entertaining family and friends. I love to upcycle and re-cover old chairs and couches. We have an old AGA in the kitchen which really is the heart of the home. It's an old farmhouse with two acres of rambling garden. Veg and herb boxes and roaming chickens, four dogs who laze all day under our feet. Lots of outdoor shady areas with big old beaten-up couches which are super comfy, and footstools to put the feet up to rest. Old vintage fabrics and junk shop finds, sheepskin rugs over hemp carpets, old kilims, and wooden and old terracotta floors. Upcycled old cupboards with a lick of paint to add colour. Old trunks and wicker baskets. Ours is certainly a well-lived in home rather than a showpiece!
What elements do you think make a house a home?
A home is all about the way we live in it. Bountiful fresh food, bowls filled with fresh fruits and a well-stocked pantry. A wood-burning fireplace, and lots of fresh flowers throughout the house. Lovely fragrances burning in oil burners and diffusers, scented candles. A beautiful tree-filled garden, long verandas, and large tables for eating outside. Most of all it must be sumptuous, yet wonderfully comfortable!
What would be your top three tips to anyone visiting South Africa for the first time?
A visit to the both the Mother City and the Winelands are must-dos. A safari without doubt, and at least three nights, preferably longer to slow your pace and truly absorb bush life. Exploring our beautiful beaches and coastlines. There’s just so much to see!
What would you do with a lost day to yourself in Cape Town?
Honestly for me, staying at home is the biggest treat, although I do love a beach walk early in the morning with the dogs. A trip to all the wonderful art galleries and seeing what is new in the city… there’s always so much happening and fantastic new eateries to try. A trip to the Granger Bay market is another favourite, it’s a lovely spot for a catch-up with friends. Home is such a great place to be so, it's always calling us back. With my job taking me all over, I relish staying put on my rare idle days.
What’s next for Perfect Hideaways?
We are adding more places in Europe and developing our Island Division. During COVID, when borders could close overnight, we were taught to be prepared for change! We are expanding to places that we love to travel to outside of Africa.
The third Perfect Hideaways Coffee Table is in the making and as always I have some other ideas brewing… watch this space!