A “Bohemian French” Victorian Cottage in Cape Town

updated Apr 30, 2019

A “Bohemian French” Victorian Cottage in Cape Town

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Katia, Chad and their daughter, Milla
Observatory — Cape Town, South Africa
Size: 1291 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years, owned

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Katia, Chad and their daughter Milla live in a charming Victorian cottage in the heart of Observatory, Cape Town. A wild, overgrown garden greeted me and as I stepped inside, I felt as though I may just be in a French apartment. The French feel is thanks to Katia’s Parisian roots and the clever paneling she had installed in the living and dining areas. Katia’s father, a painter and sculptor, helped with the dimensions and design and they had the panels locally made by Cape Town timbers. These panels and mouldings give the home a definite European twist.

The heart of the home is the living area with its large relaxed corner sofa and French doors, which open out onto a small courtyard scented with star jasmine. Much of the furniture in the home was found at vintage stores and auctions, which creates an eclectic and bohemian feel.

Milla’s bedroom, however, is full of special pieces from Katia’s online store, Collerette, where she sells stylish furniture and goodies for babies and kids. Since moving in they’ve added on the bathroom next to Milla’s bedroom and next up will be a kitchen refurbishment. But for now they’re happy with their home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Katia: I loved the spookiness and ancient look and feel of the house as soon as I saw it. We didn’t have many pieces when we moved in so naturally we hit the second-hand stores, but with time. I preferred keeping fewer of them and having more space. So my style is bohemian French if I can call it that. I like elements that makes sense and have functions.

Chad: The garden is my area; Katia has the inside covered. She is very good at making the best use of space.

Inspiration: Definitely Parisian nonchalant spaces, artistic spaces and zen. I love the wood mouldings on the walls of French interiors and always wanted to recreate that. Given the very high ceilings we have in this Victorian house, it was the perfect idea. The inside of the house was painted quite dark before but I wanted some light and to give the space some neutral tones. We also added details onto doors and door frames, outside and inside. I am all about the subtle details, like making sure there is a key in a door, if there is a lock.

Favorite Element: The messy garden and patio with all the plants, my daughter’s Stokke high chair for the dining table, our lazy couch and our Victorian black mantelpiece.

Biggest Challenge: The kitchen — it’s not renovated yet and it needs a substantial budget. We would like to get rid of the tiles on the floors in the eating area as well, and replace them with wood, so that is the biggest challenge for sure.

What Friends Say: They love the ceiling space and feel of the house and garden. They love our new couch too and enjoy Chad’s cooking skills.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our kitchen still but other than that we are pretty proud of our place.

Proudest DIY: Definitely the couch. I bought the structure at an auction. I spotted the amazing quality of the frame, but it was badly upholstered so I got rid of everything and started from scratch. I was very determined that I wanted a seat with feathers for the comfort. So I sourced everything — the inner foam, the feathers, the fabric (blend of hemp and cotton for the natural feel), went to professional bulk dyers and I chose the color. Then I worked hand in hand with the upholsterer and the seamstresses to get the look that I wanted. I wanted a lazy couch prioritizing comfort above all. And it worked out great! But if I had left them to do what they were thinking was a good job, it would have been a disaster. This type of couch, wide and relaxed is a new thing to makers here.

Biggest Indulgence: The second added bathroom with cement tiles, Bose mini portable speaker and my Diptique candles — can’t live without them.

Best Advice: Don’t rush into a look. Give it time for the space to talk to you. Remember the first feel you get when you walk into the space and work at keeping that or changing it. Try to always keep a different perspective so things and furniture don’t get stuck in one place forever. Maybe you find a better solution if you do keep little bed side lights in different places. They can add a new element of light and mood.

Dream Sources: I would love a womb chair from Knoll to add a sitting chair to the lounge, a Smeg cooker, and Fermob Luxembourg chairs and table for the outside garden.


Cushions — Lucky Boy Sunday
Cushions — Petit Pan
Yellow throw — Banana Republic
Blue throw — Zara Home
Vintage rug — Turkey
White side table — bought at an auction, repainted white

Lamp — bought at an auction, Katia changed the lampshade
Chinese cabinet — auction

Chandelier — Eagle Lighting
Rattan little chair — Lu & Barnabe
Cushion on chair — Lucky Boy Sunday
Curtains — custom made
Wooden paneling — made by Cape Town Timbers

Print — auction

Radio — auction

Dining chairs & table — vintage shop
Milla’s pink high chair — Stokke

Palm prints — auction
Linen bedding — Nicole Miller Home
Wooden dresser — auction

Bathroom curtain — Zara Home

Wallpaper — Sanderson

Swans wallpaper — Laura Ashley
Bed and canopy — Collerette
Toy stove — Brio
Piano — Vilac
Curtains — made by Katia’s mom
Mobile — made by Katia’s friend
Mushroom light — Egmont

Thanks, Katia and Chad!

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