A Moroccan-Inspired Cape Town Gem

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Moroccan-Inspired Cape Town Gem

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Sarah Bishop
Location: Cape Town
Size: 463 square feet
Years lived in: Owned, 6 months

Situated just off bustling Long Street in the heart of Cape Town, you’ll find a small Moroccan-inspired oasis. As an entrepreneur, Sarah travels between London and Cape Town for work and needed a comfortable place to live when in South Africa. So she purchased this apartment six months ago with her business partner; they take turns sharing the space between them.

The small apartment looked dated when they bought it, but they set to work updating and re-configuring the home with the help of interior designer, Lei Lester. The idea was to keep the space practical and functional while also adding some Moroccan-inspired flair. They stripped all the cabinets, moved the kitchen, and rebuilt with all new custom cabinetry. New tiling, painting, plumbing and electrical were all required.

Interesting decor details give the apartment a unique character, such as beautiful copper bathroom fixtures, pressed ceiling panel artwork, and reclaimed wood shelving. Plenty of plants complete the look and bring in an element of nature, which is a must for Sarah.

Sarah actually stayed in the space during part of the remodel, which was a bit chaotic. But the transformation was complete in a speedy six months, and is now a calming oasis for Sarah and her business partner. And for the times when neither of them is living in the space, they rent it out on Airbnb.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I like to keep my spaces uncluttered, including only a few beautiful pieces that I use every day. Because of that, everything is made for daily use! In fact, many of the pieces have multiple uses: The sofa can quickly convert into a single bed, for example. The bedroom shelving serves as both a wardrobe and a storage area for household items.

Even in the city, I absolutely love nature. In this flat we’ve built a custom-shelving unit in the window, which Lei designed in glass to act as a mini-greenhouse. The rest of the apartment is littered with plants to give it a fresh feeling even in the hot Cape Town summers.

Inspiration: This design was inspired by Moroccan patterns and lounge furniture. It’s a mix of vintage and new pieces that evoke a hidden home in the kasbah.

Favorite Element: I absolutely love the small tables with Moroccan lanterns that we’ve placed in the lounge and the bedroom. At first I thought these were just for show, but when I’m here I use them every evening to read by candlelight. This little ritual makes the apartment feel like a tiny oasis.

Biggest Challenge: The apartment is in an ex-council building, which meant that renovation brought lots of surprises! When we purchased it, the interiors hadn’t been re-done since the block was originally built. Because the bathroom is so small, tiling with the intricate Moroccan tiles that we chose took forever. In the end, the results were worth the wait!

What Friends Say: “When can we visit?” Many of my friends from London have never been to Cape Town, and after seeing the photos I think they’re using this apartment as an excuse to make the trip.

Biggest Embarrassment: I lived in the apartment while the renovations were wrapping up. There was no electricity, and no running water for weeks (though the toilet did flush, thank goodness!). The very last thing that we sorted out were the curtains. I’m sure I had some embarrassing moments trying to navigate a construction zone while my neighbors looked on in amusement.

Proudest DIY: My mother is a gardening expert and amateur botanist. When she visited, she loved learning about all of the native plants in the Western Cape! Together, we made the terrarium in the bathroom out of a glass jar and pebbles that we’d found, plus supplies from the local plant store. The DIY was really her effort, and I cheered from the sidelines.

Biggest Indulgence: The basin in the bathroom was well out of budget, but we couldn’t pass on it. The copper bowl with indentations perfectly captured the style that we’re going for, and it added so much character to the room. We’re not regretting it!

Best Advice: Plan for an extra six weeks of construction work, and then act as if your deadline is unshakable. Then, leave the design to the professionals! Working with Lei was a dream — she put together a cohesive look and picked up items with gorgeous textures that I would have never thought to layer on. The result was stunning, comfortable, and met all of our requirements.

Dream Sources: Refurbished furniture shops! I love the idea of picking up something that has a story and re-working the object to serve a new purpose. Besides, it helps the environment (and usually the budget). We did this with several elements in the flat’s design. The bedroom shelving unit, for example, is made from reclaimed wood. The sofa is a refurbished daybed.


Round mirror — Arkivio
Tap fittings — Wauhaus
Basin — Wauhaus
Lantern — Weylandts
Baskets — Coricraft
Wall tiles — Douglas Jones
Floor tiles — Moroccan Warehouse
Bath mat — bought in India
Tray — Coricraft

Curtains — @home
Mirror — Vintage
Lights — Hoi P’loy
Bench — Vintage
Rug — bought in India
Quilt — Vintage sari
Baskets — Weylandts
Cushion — Weylandts
Bedding — Superbalist
Plants — from Windowsill & Sarah’s mother

Table — Vintage
Chairs — Chair Crazy
Wall feature — Vintage
Standing lamp — Weylandts
Carpet — Superbalist
Stool — Coricraft
Blue planter/vase — Coricraft
Curtains — @home

Armchairs — ONE OF A FIND – Lei Lester
Daybed — Vintage
Patterned scatters — made from vintage Indian saris
Blue and green scatters — Superbalist
Rug — Bought in India
Leather pouffe — Moroccan World in London
Side tables — Superbalist
Lanterns — @home
Basket with white trim — Coricraft

Wall tiles — Douglas Jones
Mugs — Superbalist
Basin — On Tap
Tap fittings — Wauhaus
Cabinets— Custom design by Lei Lester
Light fittings — Superbalist

Thanks, Sarah!

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