‘My house is as much an expression of myself as my style is,’ says Sanet Coetzee, the creative visual merchandiser who calls this Oranjezicht abode home. ‘I think my style is quite eclectic,’ she adds. ‘I like to combine classic with contemporary and a touch of vintage. I like to play with proportions and textures, and I tend to choose elements that contradict each other – making something that would ordinarily seem hard now feel soft.’
Indeed, as you move throughout this space, Sanet’s penchant for contrast instantly reveals itself, at once bold yet subtle, earthy yet modern, unfussy yet artfully layered.
As co-owner of VM Central and Olive Studio, a visual merchandising (VM) consultancy and VM school specialising in workshops, events, retail displays and windows, Sanet designs the visually arresting vignettes found in the windows of some of the country’s best-known retailers. Along with her business partner Rupert Smith, she’s also behind Central, an alluring plant-filled boutique in Cape Town that blends vintage and modern home elements in a curated setting.
For Sanet, work and life intertwine, and her home is an outlet for her creativity. ‘VM inspired Central and gave us a platform to express ourselves without the confines of a brief,’ she says. ‘There is no way you can be part of a VM studio and a shop, and not have it influence your space – and vice versa.’
Sanet started renting this apartment with her brother following a move from Johannesburg, and subsequently snapped it up when the owners were ready to part ways. ‘We found this Art Deco building and saw the view of Table Mountain – and that was it. We had to have it,’ she says.
Complementing the lush surrounds, greenery is a constant theme inside, with plants appearing in every room – from small pots of succulents, air plants and fresh blooms placed atop counters to cascading creepers and leafy ferns.
Decor displays that further express Sanet's textured style feature throughout too, and the dining table in the narrow lengthwise kitchen offers a taste of the kind of easy entertaining the owner enjoys most.
‘My favourite space is the kitchen-dining area,’ she says. ‘When people visit, they naturally gravitate towards it.’ Here, antiques mingle with modern design finds and a scarlet ibis mural reflects Sanet’s knack for introducing the occasional pop of colour into an otherwise neutral palette.
‘In my dining room, I have copper and cut-glass lights that hang above a concrete table with Perspex chairs on one side and a vintage bench on the other. These are all completely different elements, but they work so well together,’ she says. ‘I wanted the space to feel open and light, taking nature into consideration. I decided to have the dining and kitchen area west facing because the afternoon sun shines through the huge gum trees and lights up the space. It really is quite magical.’
Morning sun also streams into the lounge and bedroom area courtesy of the factory-style glass doors. ‘This is when Oscar and Kyle are happiest – it’s a kitty’s paradise,’ says Sanet of her two cats. Embracing colour and comfort, the layered bedrooms feel utterly serene.
In the master bedroom, tropical wallpaper enhances the sense of being immersed in nature, while also bringing a dose of vibrancy to the space. In these zones, Sanet has carefully combined raw and tactile textures with antiques and plants.
Having been in the design game for many years, Sanet’s textured style has evolved over time. ‘I’ve been in VM most of my life and it is a constantly evolving world. One needs to be up to date with what’s going on, so I am constantly inspired and affected by the style movement,’ she says. Today, she describes her home as ‘visually busy, yet somehow very calm and simple’.
Sanet sums it up in the theme of contrasts that abound in her space: ‘Less is more, unless it’s not – then more is more!’