Sabi Sands

Photographed by Elsa Young

When Michele Throssell and her team joined architect Nick Plewman and his to transform this dated bush retreat into a contemporary masterpiece, the results exceeded all expectations. The owners of this home in the Sabi Sands Reserve were very clear with that they wanted from the home’s renovation. A home that not only functioned better but was integrated into the idyllic surrounds beyond its perimeter.

‘It’s so beautifully situated on the Sabi River banks that when you enter, you have a breath-taking view of a river scene that was begging to be incorporated into the aesthetic,’ says Michele. MTI and Nicholas Plewman Architects, as a collaborative team, set about extending the deck and including a firepit under the surrounding trees as well as creating an inviting entrance area, all in a bid to engage the house with the bush.

‘The passage to the bedroom wing is extremely long, and so we set about creating flow from the rooms into the lounge by bringing colour and life to that space, even though it was just a passage,’ says Michele. The lounge originally had a huge wall, with a fireplace in the centre that completely blocked the flow of the room. This was removed and a new fireplace installed that was minimal and added to the beautiful open space.

Lots of bold colour was used in the rooms, with contrasting elements of raw wood headboards by Umdabu and beautiful natural woven baskets that speak back to the scene beyond, where dried reeds wash up along the sandbank of the Sabi River.

The bathrooms also got a complete makeover by opening up the showers with doors to the newly planted gardens and vistas beyond. Handcrafted custom tiles were used throughout and set the scene for all the en-suites.

The main bedroom, as a separate enclave from the house, got a complete overhaul and features a clever design solution of a slatted wooden screen that hides the wardrobe node whilst doubling up as headboard. The soft palette awash with neutrals and hints of muted pink facilitates the feeling of a cosy escape in the main bedroom that also includes a study and lounge.

The new guest suite was built above the original structure and features freestanding ablution consoles with mirrors mounted from the ceiling as a way to separate the bathroom from the bedroom node but to also not erode the view beyond. In true MTI style the neutral tones come alive in this room thanks to a strategic layering of textures in the furnishings such as the scalloped sidetables by Studio 19, the extra length padded headboard stretching the length of the room and woven baskets used as décor accessories.

A new bar area was also added to the main living space and features a custom made chandelier, replicating a bird’s nest, that the MTI team commissioned to Mud Interiors. The custom made Soldier Bar stools by well known furniture design duo Doktor & Misses add a pop of colour.

Architecture aside in terms of décor and soft furnishings, according to Michele, ‘we wanted to bring a cleaner more modern look to the house.’ So they got rid of the brown cabinetry, which felt extremely flat and in need of a facelift, found an awe-inspiring wallpaper by a designer in Scotland, commissioned her to create it in a larger scale and this became the talking point of the whole project. It also extended the colour as well as the mood from the lounge into the passage.