South African House and Leisure…

house and leisure

I am obsessed with magazines…before the world’s financial system basically collapsed, I used to buy about 7 or 8 magazines a month…I love the smell of them and the feel of the freshly printed pages as you open the first page…yes, I know I have a problem!I am addicted….


A few years ago,when things started to become financially challenged for us here in the Middle East, I stopped buying magazines, mostly because they cost so much here in Dubai but also because I felt like their content was often lacking with not enough editorial and too many adverts. I then discovered blogs and I got my design “fix”from them…however, there are a couple of magazines which I have never stopped buying. One of them is Veranda …a classic…a second is American House Beautiful , a third is a South African Magazine called House and Leisure and last but not least, South African Conde Naste House and Garden(which oddly enough is now available in Dubai at a very reasonable price!). House and Leisure , I think, is one of the best interior magazines out there. Their content is predominantly local and they often feature homes which have been renovated on a budget.

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The South African Decor is very specific…relaxed yet traditional, but also combined with contemporary style too….I know I am biased, but I think generally, South African homes are very stylish in a relaxed and sometimes earthy way.

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South Africans are also fortunate to live in a very picturesque country, with rugged mountains and plains, tree covered hills and majestic ocean vistas…the scenery just inspires creative thinking and design and the architects   come up with amazing designs  for homes and beach houses.

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This image above, is a very typical cottage style home with rough stone walls, a deep veranda and a corrugated iron roof. (there is nothing quite like an African rain storm beating down onto a corrugated iron roof!)It has been updated by painting everything white and  I love it…so fresh and different yet still maintaining the tradition. This home was bought as a rather dilapidated old wreck and lovingly restored by the owner into The White House, as it is known today.

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Some fabulous kitchens….

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The availability of antiques is also a huge plus in South African decorating and adds to the unique qualities of different homes… I can remember my mum having a table which she had picked up in a junk shop as a young newly married lady, and which my sister now has in her home….still going strong!

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Most homes are built around entertaining  and the temperate climate , and include open plan kitchen/dining/living rooms and use of verandas and outdoor space  as additional rooms. South Africans tend to spend a lot on landscaped gardens and outdoor spaces in general, mostly because they are outdoorsy as a nation and also because everything grows fairly easily!

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When I look through the magazines, I have to confess that I have pangs of homesickness and longing for the lifestyle which I no longer have…Dubai is culturally so different and the harsh climate prohibits most outdoor activities for at least 7 months of the year. Then I remind myself of the reasons I chose to live abroad and I console myself by planning a trip somewhere like Istanbul or India which happen to be right on our doorstep…it usually works well, until the next issue arrives……

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all images via

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