House Tour: Liz’s South African DenLondon, England
Name: Elizabeth van den Bergh
Location: Shepard’s Bush, London
Type: Period Home
Size: 310 square-meters (about 3400 square-feet)
Years lived in: 4
When Elizabeth left her native South Africa nearly a decade ago, she was determined to bring a sense of vast open space, synonymous with Africa, with her. Architect-turned-Strategy-Consultant, Liz masterminded the idea to turn a pokey London home into an oasis of space and light. On the ground floor, all the internal walls were removed to create an open-plan living room, kitchen and adjacent terrace — very reminiscent of Cape Town…
This Shepard’s Bush home has become a true South African den where Liz entertains almost daily; friends and family drop in at any given time (a very rare occurrence in London), and lavish dinner parties fits this home like a glove.
My Style Is… Eclectic Traditional.
The Inspiration: South Africa and its wide-open spaces had a big influence on my architectural and interior decisions. I also like to surround myself with items that have personal meaning and an emotional connection.
Favourite Element: Warm & natural colours — I will never use wild and bright colours in my home.
Biggest Challenge: Planning permission! Obtaining open plan permission in London for a traditional house turned out to be a nightmare.
What friends say about your house: All my friends are non-designers and therefore think everything is perfect! Most of my friends comment on the amazing sense of space, which is very rare for a London home.
Biggest Embarrassment: The builders broke a hole through my wall into my neighbour’s baby room (while the 3-month old was asleep!). A very shaky start to our relationship, but after a homemade chocolate cake and apology, we have become great friends.
Proudest DIY: I kept and restored the original old fire oven. I love the contrast of the traditional old stove in a very modern kitchen; I don’t use it for cooking but for heating! Also, during renovation, I guarded the glass panel in my front door with my dear life. It is over a 100 years old and one of my favourite features of this house.
Biggest Indulgence: A couple of years ago I spent my entire annual bonus on a painting by Vietnamese painter Bin Nguyen Thanh Binh. Months later IKEA decided to produce greeting cards of his paintings and contacted me to photograph the original. It turned out, my biggest splurge have been my biggest investment too — what a bonus!
Best Advice: Creating a downstairs toilet. It’s perfect for guests.
My Dream Source: I don’t copy a look. I like to mix and match different looks from different resources. For inspiration I love to visit antique shops and browse magazines such as Living etc and Art Review.
Worktop: Custom made by a local stainless steel workshop
Carcasses and Doors: Magnet.
2 black chairs: Somewhere in South Africa, It’s just too long ago, I can’t remember the location!
Sofa: I had the sofa custom made to fit the wall.
Kitchen chairs: Dwell
Dining table: A random corner shop
Dining chairs: All the chairs are different, I picked them up from second hand shops all around London.
Wicker chair: Pier
Glass coffee table: Muji
Black and white chair: company.com
Chandelier: Custom made
Green pillows on the couch: Mr Price, South Africa
Zebra skin: A gift from a friend from Tanzania
Feathers: I bought them on my travels to India
Foosball table: ebay.co.uk
Old machine: An antique auction website.
Kitchen Lighting: Habitat
Bedroom Lighting: Woolworths, South Africa.
Paint: Farrow and Ball
Rugs and carpets: All the Persian carpets were gifts from my mom.
Tiles and Stone: Slate Stone Warehouse
Window Treatments:I don’t have any curtains in my house, only sandblast film, made by my neighbour.
Artwork: All the portraits in the Living room: John Mortimer, I met him at an exhibition.
Bedding: The White Company