Although originally from Empangeni, Kathryn and her husband Mark have been living in Dubai for the past 13 years and both their children, Ethan (9) and Kaitlyn (8), were born there. Kathryn ‘stumbled’ into interior design after having her second baby, and since then has gone on to become a highly sought-after designer, both locally and internationally. She now has a host of residential and commercial projects in her portfolio, and has also collaborated with a number of top brands including IKEA, Hansgrohe, Dyson, Bosch and Crate & Barrel, to name a few.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an interior designer.
It is something that I have always been passionate about. After the birth of my second child, I took a break from the corporate world where I had enjoyed a career in marketing and business development, to spend some time with my babies. With a bit of extra time on my hands, I found myself immersed in the world of interior design online – I was an avid reader of interior blogs and spent a lot of time re-decorating my home and the homes of friends who asked for help and advice. A friend suggested I start a website to document my ideas and provide an online directory for the supplier list I had built up over the years and a seed was planted. Within a few weeks House of Hawkes had launched as an interior and lifestyle blog. It didn’t take long for the work requests to come in, but I dismissed the first few, saying I wasn’t a qualified decorator. Eventually I gave in to the repeated appeals and starting offering my services.
Tell us about your design style.
It’s difficult to pinpoint my style because, whilst I aspire to a Scandi-like minimalism and appreciate clean lines and simplicity, there is no denying my African roots and a deep love of textures. I think I can summarise my style as ‘pseudo minimalism with a hint of Afro chic’.
Why did you buy an apartment in Dunkirk?
Dubai schools have a long summer break over July and August which also coincides with the hottest two months of the year so many expats travel during that time. We love coming back to South Africa to enjoy the cooler weather and catch up with family. After many years of staying with family or renting places during our visits, we decided it was time to look for something of our own. I loved the atmosphere of Dunkirk and the ‘lock up and go’ option of the apartments.
Tell us a bit about the interior and why you chose this look and feel.
My husband and I both love the North Coast, and particularly Salt Rock. We wanted to capture the holiday atmosphere, as this is somewhere we come to relax and escape. Keeping things calm and simple were key to our decorating ethos. We also felt comfortable to experiment with some new concepts that would ordinarily be outside of my comfort zone – like the black cabinets in the kitchen. Conscious that we might be renting it out at some point, I opted for practical décor throughout the apartment. We chose vinyl planks for the indoor flooring because we loved warmth of the wood tones but needed something durable and easy to maintain. Both bathrooms were fully renovated to achieve a lighter and brighter look and feel.
What is your favourite room in the home?
The enclosed patio area was the big selling point for us when we first saw pictures of the property and, now that we have furnished the apartment, the this is definitely my favourite place to be. It’s so peaceful and the view of lush greenery and the sea in the distance instantly relaxes me.
What are your tips for people decorating a holiday home on the North Coast?
I did almost all of the furniture sourcing online from Dubai and was so impressed with the variety of options available for all budgets. I’ve recently launched a series on my blog called South African Design Scene to highlight some of the amazing new concepts I have discovered over the past few months, many of which are local to the area. Whilst I did bring a few bits and pieces across from Dubai, it was important to us to source locally as far as possible. I am also an advocate of mixing old with new and high end with affordable, and whilst there’s not much that’s old in our new holiday home, there is certainly a playful mix of wish list pieces with more budget friendly items.
Text: Leah Shone | Photographs: Chris Allan / Chris Allan Photography
IMAGES: Minimalistic Style