For many women, becoming a mother means giving up your career until your children are older. North Coast mother of three and interior decorator Charnré Toweel however, found a way to stay relevant and up-to-date in the industry she loves while still being a dedicated, full time mom. We take a look at her stunning Mount Edgecombe home.
A self-confessed perfectionist, Charnré struggled to find a balance between motherhood and her career when she had her first baby nearly 11 years ago. “I was working from 8am to 12, playing mom from 12 to 8pm and then working again from 8pm. Burnout was inevitable, so I chose to put my children first.”
Despite not actually working in the industry, Charnré has in no way been ‘out of the game’ over the past decade. In fact, she’s made the interior décor game part of her and her family’s lives. And she says her most recent project, the home they are renting in Mount Edgecombe, is by far her favourite venture to date.
Charnré and her husband Shaun have moved 14 times in their 14 years of marriage. “Each time we’ve built a home I’ve decorated it and we’ve sold it fully furnished. This has enabled me to stay relevant in the industry, despite having three kids in the process. Ideally, I’d like to resume my career full time one day, but this would be difficult to do if I took an 18-year sabbatical while raising my children. It’s been such a gift to remain in the industry by doing a few projects a year at my own pace and being able to really push the boundaries when doing our homes.”
When the couple sold their Hawaan home fully furnished recently, they knew they wanted to find a home in Mount Edgecombe. “We searched for six months until we were finally offered this home to rent by close friends who were relocating to Zimbali. They graciously packed up in one month and handed over the keys – despite having four kids of their own. I will forever be grateful to them. They also gave us free rein in terms of decorating, which allowed me to unleash the creativity that was trapped inside me!”
Charnré decided to redecorate the home as though she were doing it for a client, even keeping her husband in the dark as to what it was going to look like in the end. “He has always been involved in our home projects, but this time I was given complete carte blanche, without having to get approvals from anyone – a designer’s dream!”
What excited Charnré most about this project, she says, was the fact that the design and architecture were completely different to the sleek, minimalist homes they had always built. “Mount Edgecombe has a completely different feel. This excited me because, while our modern houses have been beautiful, I often felt they weren’t really ‘homes’ where families with young children could sink into comfortable, shloomfy chairs and chill for hours . . .”
With that in mind, Charnré focussed on creating a homely, comfortable space without compromising on the stylish, contemporary look and feel. She shares a bit about her two favourite spaces in the home.
“I had to take into consideration that there are three young kids who have to occupy the space, so a lot of thought went into the ‘longevity’ of the furniture. When people see the huge, white sofa in the living area, they panic! But this gorgeous ‘Easy Living’ suite from Weylandts really lives up to its name. It is super comfortable, has removable covers and is interchangeable, so we can play around with the layout if we feel like a change! I love how this room came together with timeless pieces that can be passed down from generation to generation, like the antique Indian Wooden Door coffee table from Weylandts, and the distressed Persian rug from Hertex.
“Another area that I absolutely love is the outside patio area. We enjoy visiting game lodges and I wanted to create the same look and feel for this area. I was spoilt for choice when it came to furniture pieces, artefacts and fabrics, but my favourite elements are the zebra print bone occasional table and the gorgeous colonial chairs, both from Cecile & Boyd.”
The reward at the
end of a project, Charnré says, is always the reveal. This one was particularly special for her though, because the ‘clients’ were her family. “The excitement from my kids was a moment I won’t forget for a long time! When a job is done and you walk away from a client you leave a part of you behind . . . but with this project I got to stay behind and am able to enjoy the home with my family each and every day!”
Text: Leah Shone | Photos: Lisa Woest Photography