The artful lodgers

Arriving at the home of Nicky and Philip Tyers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re actually at an art gallery. The house’s colonnaded facade already hints at what awaits inside, guarding a frequently changing collection of art on the front stoep and yard. That’s before you’ve even walked through the front door. 

Philip Tyers owns the gallery and design studio Villa Africa on Cape Town’s Loop Street, so his home was always destined to have a “revolving-door” through which artworks would consistently pass. Nicky owns interior design studio Lion & Tyers, the culmination of a 28-year career, nurtured from an early age. The creative chemistry created by these two aesthetes is manifested in their eclectic and dynamic personal space.

Both Philip and Nicky are fans of artist Conrad Botes, and it’s one of his pieces that greets visitors to their home. Nicky admits that the painting – entitled ‘Origin’ – constantly sparks debate. But it certainly establishes the tone for the rest of the home: an ode to the couple’s legacy, their passions and their love of interesting conversation.

The house merges old world and new to perfection. Heritage features, from the Cape Dutch lattice window in the entrance hall to the Burmese rosewood staircase, reveal the home’s ‘good bones’. Ceilings are high and timber floors stretch into sizeable rooms. 

“We always maintain symmetry and incorporate many doors and windows to bring in the beautiful light. Our former homes have had a strong architectural style, either Cape Dutch, Herbert Baker or Arts and Crafts,” says Nicky. She also feels that a house should have a captivating and pleasing character, even when empty. Furnishing and artwork should be the final flourish.

Nicky is also a firm believer in feng shui, so she has set about rearranging doorways to create good chi for their home. The double doorway leading from the entrance hall to the living room was moved to face the staircase rather than the front door, for example. Besides creating symmetry and coherent flow, this renovation also facilitated, much to the couple’s delight, a larger wall surface onto which they could hang more art.

Further renovations saw the merging of two generous bedrooms upstairs to create a master suite that also houses Nicky’s study (a fruitful venture given how many of us have been forced to work from home). 

Outside, the veranda is an effortless extension of the interior. Conventional outdoor furniture is expertly curated with less-traditional choices: enticing sofas and armchairs upholstered in plush fabrics, handcrafted stools and, of course, more art. Here the couple love to spend an afternoon listening to music, chatting and enjoying a G&T.

Throughout the home, a charcoal and white foundation creates a paint palette onto which a kaleidoscope of texture and colour is layered – and the couple do this with a wonderful mix of consideration and abandon. The overall sense is of the architecture, furniture, art and objects working in unison to present a cohesive exhibit. It’s also a case study in how to display – and live with – art that both provokes and comforts. |

Words: J-P de la Chaumette
Production: Vignette and J-P de la Chaumette
Photography: Karl Rogers

The brainchild of Natalie Boruvka and Karl Rogers, Vignette launched recently as a photographic agency, creating and selling décor and lifestyle focused editorial features to the media. Their current features span properties from Johannesburg to the Cape with distinctive style.