On the Rocks
Umhlanga Rocks, Durban

Photographed by Lar Rattray

Celebrating rich textures and organic elements, this apartment carries a Moroccan feel throughout that welcomes a lifestyle of relaxed summer beach living.

An existing client, who wanted to transform this holiday apartment, along the idyllic coastline of Umhlanga Rocks, called upon Michelle Throssell Interiors to make the magic happen. He is a design enthusiast and his family are big into surfing. The apartment was dated and had to be completely gutted, a process that had to be included in the 4-month project deadline. The brief was to create a chic getaway home that was all about the sun, sea and surf lifestyle.

When Michele and her team started on the project, they had just returned from Maison d’Object in Paris, which provided a plethora of inspiration. Big trends during this showcase of contemporary design aesthetics and objects were that of a Moroccan-inspired patina drawing on Berber culture – the indigenous tribes of North Africa. This was their starting point, with a focus on rich texture and layering in white and earthy hues as opposed to an obvious explosion of colour, so as not to detract from the eye-popping hues of the Kwazulu/Natal North Coast.

To add to this contemporary Fez look, they wanted to celebrate the client’s love for the sea in an edgy way, so they custom-made some quirky, bespoke pieces – shaggy grass lamp-shades, a breezy gauze light fitting, a monkey lamp and round drinks cabinet – which has the effect of bestowing immense character and an element of surprise to every corner of the apartment

There are accents of gold that catch the eye, elevating the glam-factor of this bare-foot-luxury abode. A standout feature is American designer, Kelly Wearstler’s gold wallpaper in the main bedroom that contributes an ethereal touch to the room. Instead of going for wallpaper in the living area, or the ever-popular wall-decal, the team transformed old surfboards into works of interior art by having them swathed in patterned wall decals, which they designed.

The use of raw-wood binds the whole aesthetic together in a way that’s accessible and warm. From the floors, through to much of the furnishings and particularly the use of chunky segments of tree-trunks used throughout as side tables, coffee tables and consoles.