Add elegance, luxury and quality to your home and garden by making wise, long-term choices when decking them out.
Your home says a lot about you and your personality and is an expression of your taste and style. Therefore, it makes sense to invest in classic, quality items that will last a lifetime. We asked two interior decorators, two chefs and a gardening expert what they would invest in, and why.
Around the home
A good wine glass doesn’t have to be exorbitantly expensive, advises interior decorator David Strauss.
‘The trick is to buy ones that are clear and simple in design, and don’t have thick rims. Set your table with two glasses per person. If you have a 12-seater table, buy 36 glasses – people usually have pre-drinks and tend to take their half-full glasses to the dinner table. Don’t be limited by convention. Instead, mix styles – it creates a sense of luxury. Auctions often have beautiful, good-quality wine glasses on offer,’ he says.
‘Make sure that you buy more glasses than you need. A good idea is to buy at least a replacement set,’ advises Virginia Garnham, owner of The House of Passementerie, suppliers of trims and tiebacks.
Crockery is versatile as it allows you to change and match the mood of your dinner party. ‘Mix different styles, such as modern plates with antique bowls. That said, it is also a good idea to have good quality main-course plates and bowls that can be used for salad, soup, pasta and so on,’ says David.
Silver is a wonderful luxury if you can afford it. ‘Silver cutlery adds interest to any dinner table and, if cared for properly, can last a lifetime. Small silver items on a table, like little bowls for salt and pepper, butter dishes and so on, add a beautiful touch. I believe that one can never have enough silver trays and, when teamed with decanters, they add instant style. Silver candlesticks are also always a winner,’ says David.
David advises choosing cotton bed linen with a thread count of at least 400. ‘It will last you a lifetime and it adds luxuriousness to any bed.’ He prefers white tablecloths, bed linen and towels. Natural linen serviettes and tablecloths are a good investment.
Curtains should preferably hang from the ceiling to the floor to create height. A good idea is to ask your curtain maker to put a big hem in the curtain, which you can adjust should you move house. Again, opt for natural or neutral colours. If your room gets direct sunlight, choose a polyester mix. Curtains on cables or a stainless-steel rod with rings are stylish.
Virginia offers the following advice: ‘Line and interline the curtains, as this will ensure that they last longer and will make them look more luxurious. Spend money on the fabrics used for cushions and on occasional furniture that has design and colour. Personalise window treatments with decorative embellishments.’ Virginia uses trims such as brush fringes and pom-poms to create unique custom- designed treatments. ‘Rather buy a one-off item of quality than lots of knick-knacks from large chain stores,’ she advises.
Art is the most personal expression in your house. David advises investing in a piece of work that will walk with you for the rest of your life. ‘A piece of art should fit in with the mood of your house; don’t only try to match it with your décor. If you decide to invest in art, seek advice from curators at art galleries to help you build up your collection. Another option is photographs, which create a beautiful contemporary feel.’
In the kitchen
Pestle and mortar
For Jenny Morris, chef and owner of the catering company Cooks Playground in Cape Town, a granite pestle and mortar is a must-have. ‘It is the extractor of flavour that every foodie needs and can be used to pound, grind and coax flavour from any ingredient, from spices to nuts and pestos.’
Add a good-quality non-stick pan, preferably one that is eco-friendly and has a natural, non-stick, mineral-based coating with no potentially dangerous chemicals, and you’re set. ‘My favourite pan is heat resistant up to temperatures of 450°C, releases no toxic fumes and the coating doesn’t blister or peel. It is perfect for cooking healthy, low-fat and even without-fat meals. It cooks a steak to perfection and gives salmon the most delicious crispy skin,’ says Jenny.
Pots and knives
William Carolissen, chef at Reubens in Franschhoek, says that a good- quality set of pots in various sizes is a kitchen essential. ‘It doesn’t make sense heating 50ml of cream in a 20-litre pot! Another must-have is a good paring knife – ideal for cutting fruits and vegetables without bruising them.’
In the garden
A garden should satisfy all your senses and to accomplish that, it makes sense that you plan the layout properly, advises Ashrif Vajat, general manager at Stodels. ‘Decide where you are going to plant the focus plants, bedding plants, herbs and so on. Get expert advice, pay someone to do it for you, go online or visit your library for gardening books.’
Soil preparation and feeding
Spend as much as you can afford on preparing the soil properly and preferably use organic feeding preparations.
Roll-on instant lawn is another good investment. It saves time and provides instant lushness.
Hard landscaping, whether in the form of a path, paving, a water feature or a garden bench, adds instant character to a garden.