The Hout Bay home that creative director, interior designer and curator Tracy Lynch and husband Frank van Reenen (the equally off-the-charts artist, sculptor and animator) share with their teenage daughter Franny perfectly expresses their unique view on the world. As founder of Studio LeeLynch and the creative director of Nando’s Design Programme, much of Tracy’s is work is about reinvention; Frank’s is also inventive, but with a side order of dark, playful and wacky.
Three years ago, when they decided to swap their inner-city Victorian home in Cape Town for a spacious out-of-towner, they were looking for a well-designed space they could move into immediately. “A new, modern space is contrary to anything we’d ever lived in before, but as my days are creatively charged, I was hankering after something calm, structured and resolved,” says Tracy. But that never happened. Not long into the house-hunting process, they fell in love with – and bought – a garden… with peacocks, a vineyard and a garden cottage as part of the package.
With a flourish of faux architectural features and a decidedly olde-worlde feel to it, the existing house may have been the antithesis of what they were looking for, but it did have one thing going for it: potential. “I could see the house had good bones,” says Tracy. “So I really just removed a lifetime of accumulated details and decoration that felt out of place.” Once Tracy had pulled up the wall-to-wall carpets to reveal parquet floors, and removed the Corinthian columns and a heavy stone fireplace, the house felt a lot more streamlined and spacious. “We also ripped out the melamine kitchen and replaced it with simple white tiles and utilitarian units that probably reveal more than we’d care to admit about the amount of cooking that goes on in here,” says Frank. “Then we decided to paint everything white and live in the space for a year to get a feel for it,” adds Tracy.
Laid out on one level, the house has distinct public and private areas connected via a wooden walkway. The split-level living space comprising the living room, kitchen and dining area are generous, and benefit from a pitched roof that not only gives a sense of volume but also – thanks to clerestory windows at the apex of the roof – fills the space with light. A wood- and glass-panelled walkway leading from the living areas delivers you to the bedrooms, were the main suite, Franny’s bedroom and a guest suite are located.
“It took me a while to figure out what to do here, says Tracy. “Initially I tried to apply some of my learnings from living in Victorian houses for years – such as white walls and wooden floors – but nothing seemed to work. It was only when I realised the living areas are experienced through the windows that I began to play with colour-blocking the walls in green to blur the barriers between indoors and out.” Her decision to frame the greenery with black doors and windows was genius – it transformed the space. “I had to come back to why we bought the property in the first place. Once we reconnected with the excitement around the garden becoming a sculpture garden for Frank’s work and a wild space for Franny’s imaginings, it all clicked into place.”
Much like the garden’s seasonal displays, Tracy’s penchant for reinvention means the interiors change constantly too. “You’ll seldom come here and see it looking the same,” she says. “It’s a lifestyle thing for me. I have spent my life creating homes, both personally and professionally. Making changes, however small, shifts the energy of a place. It’s what I like to do. I’d go so far as to say that I would choose restyling my home as a form of recreation any day of the week.”