Steve & Debbie’s Barn-Inspired Home in South Africa

published Feb 27, 2016
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(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

Name: Steve and Debbie Cotton and their dogs, Baxter and Kiko
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Size: 1,800 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years; Owned

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Debbie and Steve have a keen eye for color and a unique style which is evident as soon as you enter their lovely house. Full of personality, warmth and quirky touches, the space makes one feel at home right away. Their home is a clever mix of antiques and repurposed pieces which are juxtaposed against raw brickwork and concrete to create a more contemporary feel. Items gathered over time on day trips and travels fill the shelves and walls. Steve and Debbie share a love of art and have gathered a striking collection that adorns the walls.

(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

Steve and Debbie built the home themselves, which of course allowed them to add personalized touches and elements from the get-go. The teak Argentinian shuttered front door and windows are proof of this.

Steve originally wanted a barn, and together they searched for inspiration, from beautiful homes featured in magazines to existing homes in the Western Cape. They sat with a draftsman and explained what they wanted: a barn-style home with three bedrooms, a mezzanine level, an open plan living area and a large patio. After a few drafts and further brainstorming, they came up with a happy solution.

(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

The living area, kitchen and dining area are open plan, which suits their lifestyle and love for entertaining. Stacking doors open up onto a lovely big patio which increases the floor space. The patio was a must-have for both of them when designing their home.

Together they have created a wonderfully relaxed home that blends in well with its surroundings and that reflects their personalities.

(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Old and new with a surprise element thrown in for good measure.

Inspiration: On every drive we are on the lookout for homes that inspire us and we take away different elements from each one and combine it into our own unique home.

Favorite Element:
Debbie: The Argentinian teak shuttered doors and windows in the living areas.
Steve: The back patio with its views of the mountain.

Biggest Challenge: Not over-capitalizing but still having exactly what you want.

What Friends Say: The peace experienced in the home feels like a year’s holiday instead of a weekend break.

Biggest Embarrassment: The outdoor shower. Before the garden had fully grown, one could make eye contact with the neighbors over the wall, whilst showering!

Proudest DIY: Private outdoor shower with personal tile detail and hand-picked pebble flooring.

Biggest Indulgence: Artwork

Best Advice: Don’t be shy to ask the people in your life for their opinion. Often an objective view can make for a unique outcome.

Dream Sources: Antique shops, art galleries, auctions etc… look, look, look!



  • Master bedroom: Plascon Bovine
  • Guest bedroom: custom-mixed
(Image credit: Lana Kenney)


  • Display cabinet: Lutge Gallery
  • Vintage crockery: various secondhand shops from Grahamstown to Cape Town
  • Teak Argentinian shuttered door: Onsite Gallery
  • Painting on stairway: Obert Jongwe via Roussouw Modern
  • Flower painting: Jenny Jackson
(Image credit: Lana Kenney)


  • Kelim ottoman: Onsite Gallery
  • Red armchair: Stanford antique shop, reupholstered
  • Candelabras: various shops ranging from charity shops to antique shops
  • Wood bench sofa: heirloom daybed passed down from Debbie’s grandparents
  • Blue armchair: Grahamstown antique shop, reupholstered
  • Carpet: Onrus Persian Gallery
  • Painting: Obert Jongwe via Roussouw Modern


  • Dining table: antique shop in Mowbray, refurbished
  • Dining chairs: secondhand shops in Napier, various antique shops, Debbie’s grandparents
  • Hanging lamp: Smileys in Cape Town
  • Carpet: Oriental Carpet Gallery in Cavendish
  • (Image credit: Lana Kenney)


    • Scale: antique dealer via Gumtree Classifieds
    • Ceramics: Liebermann Pottery in Gauteng
    • Marmite painting: by a student via the Grahamstown Arts Festival
    (Image credit: Lana Kenney)


    • Brass bed: antique shop, spray painted black
    • Carpet: Onrus Persian Gallery
    • Bedside cupboards: Gumtree Classifieds, antique shop
    • Duvet cover: Boardmans
    • Scatter pillows: Hidden Treasure Charity Shop, @home, Mr Price
    • Photographic print: found in Barga, Italy
    (Image credit: Lana Kenney)


  • Free-standing bath: John Brass in Salt River
  • Mirrors: various antique shops
  • Taps: Gumtree Classifieds
  • Miniature sculpture: Tania Babb
  • (Image credit: Lana Kenney)


    • Scatter pillows: Mamacos, Plumstead
    • Bedside lamp: antique dealer in Retreat, Cape Town
    • Chest of drawers: auction in Wynberg
    • Oil painting of Kruger Park: Wendy Thompson
    (Image credit: Lana Kenney)


    • Basin: Junk secondhand shop in Woodstock Main Road
    • Taps: John Brass in Salt River
    • Mirrors: various antique shops
    (Image credit: Lana Kenney)


  • Six fold-up chairs: old restored church chairs
  • Two chairs with arms: Hope Furniture
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    The Argentinian teak shuttered doors and windows in the living area were a splurge and add a unique character to the home. (Image credit: Lana Kenney)

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    Thanks, Steve & Debbie!