A South African Artist’s Wooden Cabin on Stilts Has a Grass Roof and Stunning Views
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When Amy Keevy, an artist, art director, digital creator, and brand consultant, and her fiancee, Maryke, were looking for a house along South Africa’s Garden Route, they weren’t so much looking for a specific location… more for the perfect house. They found it with this incredible structure, a wooden cabin on stilts. “The moment we walked into Tulani (the house came with its name — which means ‘be quiet, be comforted’) we knew it was the space for us,” admits Amy.
“Tulani is made of all wood and stands on stilts overlooking the old-growth Tsitsikamma forest. Maryke and I both love being outside and our house is a great balance of indoor and outdoor living space,” continues Amy. “You immediately feel connected to the nature around you. On top of my studio is the grass roof, and inside the house you will find very few straight walls! The curves, open-plan feeling, and connection to nature (literally above our heads!) create a womb-like atmosphere and contribute to the magic of the home.”
“Our neighborhood is incredibly special, with a lot of support and connection from those close to us. Before moving this isn’t something I considered, as coming from a city you don’t really know your neighbors well, but from the get-go here everyone welcomed us with arms wide open.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: If I had to define my style, I would say I am an eclectic collector. Our house is created with an array of furniture and elements both Maryke and I have collected over many years. I’m also a bit of a sucker for sentimentality and find it very hard to replace items I have owned for years. I like that about them though; they may not be perfect anymore, but there is a history attached to the physical that grounds me. This is the same with secondhand items, which is by far my favorite way to buy furniture. I’m fascinated with the history the item had before me. What stories could be told?
Inspiration: I’m inspired by a lot of mid-century furniture and elements; I love the wood and color that was used during this time. I believe that a home should be comfortable and practical as well as beautiful and I’m always striving to create spaces that are all three. Nothing should be too precious. I want someone to step in, take off their shoes, and nestle in when they arrive.
Favorite Element: This is such a difficult question to answer as really there are so many things I love about our house. Where do I even begin? I love the light, the large windows, and the details of colored glass in the corners of each window. I love the views — the mountains and forest on our doorstep are truly majestic. Our large patio area makes nature just that much closer and the transition from the main working and living area to our bedroom and bathroom allow us both to have better work-life balance and boundaries. One literally must step outside, leave one behind, and enter into the other. That peaceful feeling of waking up with the sunrise to birds singing is incomparable.
Biggest Challenge: I think the biggest challenge at the moment is realizing that owning and making a house a home is a long-term labor of love. We have so many ideas and DIY projects that we would love to do, but budget and time constraints are a real challenge. One must learn that to go slowly is not necessarily a bad thing, the positive side is that it allows you to really get to know your space before making changes to it.
Proudest DIY: Our proudest DIY at the moment would be the changes we made to the kitchen. We had to make space for a dishwasher (which is much needed if you live and work from home!) and in the process replaced the old kitchen sink and tap, as well as giving the kitchen cupboards a much-needed lick of paint. Stage two of this plan still needs to be implemented, we plan to open up the kitchen more by moving the fridge and adding a large round countertop for more workspace and storage, as well as a bar stool breakfast nook.
Our outside lighting was pretty easy to create. We used a simple string of festoon lights and paper Chinese lanterns — a simple and super effective way to create some ambience and character.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? My partner and I both work from home, so we love the alternative feeling of having our bedroom separate from our main working and living area. This really allows us to use the bedroom as a sacred space to disconnect and rest.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Living where we do, taking care of the nature around us is a top priority. Green Bee Biodegradable cleaning products are imperative to our day-to-day living. They are biodegradable, plant-based, petrochemical free, sustainably sourced, cruelty-free, and locally made.
This brand is also close to my heart as it is owned by a good friend of mine, Bianca, and I was involved in the creation of the Green Bee Biodegradable logo. It’s truly a pleasure knowing that what I helped bring earth side and use to take care of our home, is also good for the environment.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Gosh, storage is always a challenge in houses without many cupboards. I’ve been collecting different chests and baskets for years to create more storage space.
Does your home reflect your home country/city in any way? Yes, I definitely think our home reflects our immediate surroundings. Being surrounded by the old-growth forest and living in an all-wooden structure helps us integrate with our surroundings. The indoors and outdoors flow together seamlessly. South Africa really has incredible natural environments, and we are so lucky to live right in the center of one.
What are your favorite places to shop for home decor that can only be found in your country? I’m a big fan of Facebook Marketplace — I love browsing through the strange things that people sell and that fabulous feeling when you find a real gem.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Don’t be afraid of moving things around and swapping furniture from room to room. The way to create a beautiful comfortable home is to try out different things until you find the right fit for that specific space. Even once you have found that thing, something better could come along in the future, so always keep experimenting! Also plants, plants, and more plants. A home with indoor plants automatically feels more inviting.
- Rattan chairs — Facebook Market Place in Plett
- Rattan coffee table — Facebook Market Place in Plett
- Rug — Facebook Market Place in George
- Samurai statue — This was inherited from a house I lived in, in a previous life in Cape Town
- Solar lights — Takealot
- Framed artwork — Medicine Boy poster, framed by The Framing Place in Obs, Cape Town
- Wooden dresser — Inherited from Maryke’s mom
- Embroidered hoop — A Lauren Fowler design cross stitched by myself
- Embroidered ships in bottles — I’ve got a real appreciation for cross stitch. I remember my own mom and I stitching Christmas decorations one December school holiday. Maryke’s mom had a box of old embroidery items that belonged to an older lady who she knew and this piece was in that box. She gave me that box and I couldn’t bring myself to part with it.
- Dining table — Inherited from Maryke’s family
- Chairs — The white Cesca chairs are from Facebook Marketplace in Hout Bay, Cape Town
- Rug — Facebook Marketplace in George
- Round paper light — Inherited from the house
- Shelving unit — This unit I purchased secondhand from an old woman about 10 years ago. I kept it in storage for about seven of those years because I knew that I would find the perfect fit for it eventually — and we did!
- Kingfisher & dove — Both of these beautiful birds, a juvenile kingfisher and a lemon dove, we found (in perfect condition) dead in nature. The Kingfisher was found in Tulbagh (in the Western Cape) and the Lemon Dove right here on our deck. We then sent them to Mandibles to be taxidermized; they are a company which sells legally sourced natural history items such as taxidermy, stuffed animals, and animal horns and skulls.
- Standing lamp — A secondhand store in Port Elizabeth (my home town)
- Couches — Both of our couches are secondhand! One was a gift from a friend and the other from Facebook Marketplace in Woodstock, Cape Town.
- Kelim cushions — Facebook Marketplace in Milternton, Cape Town
- Pink cushion — Pezula Interiors
- Crochet throw — A secondhand store in Port Elizabeth
- Blue chairs — They were bought for me by an ex-boyfriend, from a secondhand store in Uitenhage, when I was 23 and I have had them ever since.
- Rug — Superballist
- Artwork — Maryke and I bought this poster back from a trip to Venice. We visited the Peggy Guigenhuim museum and we both fell in love with this Margritte on display there.
- Magazine rack — This was purchased on the side of the road in the Transkei.
- Mirror — From a secondhand shop in Main Road Woodstock, Cape Town
- Hanging lamp — This basket was purchased on the side of the road in the Transkei; we cut a hole into the top and created this lampshade.
- Rattan drawers — A secondhand store in Port Elizabeth (my home town)
- Tall baskets — Our large washing basket is from a weaver at the corner of 4th Avenue Parkhurst, the other two I have owned for so long I cannot even remember which secondhand shop I found them in!
- Wooden desk — Facebook Marketplace in Noordhoek.
- Wooden chair — A secondhand store in Ladismith
- Green paint color — “Garden Hedge” from Plascon
- Green paint — “Garden Hedge” from Plascon
- Bath towels — Mungo
- Daybed — These were inherited from the house as a bunk bed and we gave them a lick of outdoor paint!
- Yellow throw — From the Coastal Collective in St Francis Bay
- Dining table and chairs — This gorgeous long black wood table was inherited from the house and has been part of Tulani for 20 years!
Thanks Amy and Maryke!
This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity. Share Your Style: House Tour & House Call Submission Form
Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly wrote Tsktiskama. It’s actually Tsitsikamma.