Who lives here: Husband and wife Rob and Gina McClelland, owners of production company 2Productions (; daughters Meeca, 11; and Hannah, 7; and dogs Amstil, Max and Texan.

Style of house: A nine-bedroom, nine-bathroom contemporary, clapboard-clad timber house that echoes the relaxed feel of the seaside location on South Africa’s west coast.

When Rob and Gina McClelland began the search for a piece of land to build a second family home, the wishlist was long. They wanted plenty of space for their daughters, Meeca and Hannah, and three dogs to run around and they wanted to be within commuting distance of South Africa’s Cape Town and their beachside farm on the west coast in the comparatively remote Elands Bay. The former models also wanted to be able to use the house and surrounding land as a shoot location for their production company, 2Productions, which called for uninterrupted sea views, great light and a scenic backdrop.

They narrowed the hunt to another section of the west coast. “We love it here. It’s a really special place where you feel there’s an adventure to be had,” says Rob. “There’s a wildness to it and the off-shore winds make for great surfing.” And so the couple finally found a place to realise their dream at Grotto Bay Estate, which forms part of the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, where the natural beauty, biodiversity, history and culture are protected by law.

The site sits on the south side of the bay, giving it a key advantage over other local properties – the ability to orientate the house to the north without compromising on the outlook. “You get good light but not the severe heat of an east-west orientation,” says Rob. “I envisaged a house that would progressively ‘step back’ to let in as much northern light as possible and to maximise the sea views.”

The area is governed by an aesthetic building code that restricts building height to six metres and allows for three styles of house: ‘farm’ style, ‘west coast’ style and ‘beach’ style. Working within these parameters, the couple knew from the start that they wanted to create a contemporary, clapboard-clad timber house that spoke
of calm and carefree seaside living.

Rob approached architectural designer Alan Paine of Logo Homes to translate this vision into reality. Alan’s plans positioned the living spaces at the heart of the home, with a lofty double-height volume adding to the finished house’s airy feel. Once the plans were ready, the 15-month construction period went fairly smoothly, with the only challenge being the amount of sand that had to be moved. “The advice I can give for those building on sand is ‘If in doubt, add more steel’,” says Rob.

Gina then focused on the interiors. Instead of opting for the blue-and-white colour palette that tends to go hand in hand with coastal homes, she reflected the natural feel of the surroundings. The all-white painted surfaces add to the sense of openness with bi-fold shutter doors opening up to the decks fringing the house. The crisp palette is punctuated with textures of timber in all its forms; from wind-worn and weathered, honed and handcrafted to more finely finished. More natural details, such as woven-grass and rattan furnishings, bring warmth to the light-filled home. 

But perfecting the interiors would have been pointless if the incredible location wasn’t capitalised on. Ensuring the outdoors celebrated the views without interrupting them was key to the zone’s success. Rob wanted an infinity pool, to create the illusion of the water and the ocean merging, but this proved a little tricky. “When I explained this idea to the pool people, they gave me a blank stare, so I ended up designing and building it myself,” he says. “A building team constructed a steel framework in the shape I wanted, filled it in with concrete and finished it in a sandy colour.”

With all the hard work behind them, Rob and Gina are now free to enjoy their home. Rob’s favourite spot is the kitchen where the shared zones come together in an open-plan entertaining area that spills onto the deck. “Because we’re on a slope it means when you’re standing at the kitchen counter you are eye-level with the landscape, and if you sit on the other side you can bake in the morning sun like a lizard.” What a way to start the day.

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