HERE’S a special kind of energy around Dee Malkinson’s unpretentious home on the Sardinia Bay Road that is as fresh and pure as the country air you breathe in.
Dee and her husband, well-known Port Elizabeth restaurateur Joel, have been living in the country haven of Lovemore Park for four years, having moved there from Mount Croix.
They built their home from scratch, based on a simple sketch the two of them dreamed up one night, and completely tailored its large, open-plan space to suit their family’s needs.
It’s bespoke in an inspiring, down-to-earth way, the couple having found ingenious ways to keep costs to a minimum.
Their kitchen mixer? A bent copper pipe. The bathroom taps? Literally the garden variety. And yet it all works perfectly, and pleasingly, as favourite family heirlooms happily co-exist alongside what was once someone else’s junky bits.
Old meets new, meets joyful reinvention, in this unique family home that succeeds in being creative and calming at the same time.
Dee, who co-owns Walmer vintage and lifestyle shop Gently Worn with her friend, Claire Liston, has always loved found objects, and has a gift for creating refreshing new contexts for other people’s cast-offs.
Vintage linens, sourced by a friend at the French brocante markets, are a passion. A rusty tractor seat becomes a piece of installation art while a vintage hat stretcher from Malkinson Brothers, the Port Elizabeth business Joel’s family owned for many years, is both treasure and talking point.
“My style is simple and unpretentious,” says Dee, who also loves gardening. The large grounds, rich in indigenous vegetation, comprise tranquil garden nooks, paddocks and stabling for the horses, as well as rolling lawns put to good use by Dee and Joel’s quad-crazy boys, Joshua, 10, and Samuel, 7. There’s an impressive veggie garden that keeps the kitchen well stocked and even an area where Joel, with the help of a wine-making friend from Barrydale, recently planted 170 vines.
“We’ll be stomping our own grapes in a few years’ time,” he says. “Want to come?”
This is indeed a home open to all, and whoever calls must surely be enchanted by it, and its owners. The Malkinsons work long hours and so their home is their sanctuary.
“We never have much time to go on holiday, but being home feels like being on holiday,” Joel says. They practically “live on the verandah”, where Joel, known for his Wicker Woods pizzas, has installed a pizza oven salvaged from someone’s garden.
Dee says she is inspired by her surroundings, and by textures and patina.
“My favourite pieces are my vintage leather Chesterfield couch and my chippy blue shutters.
“Often, while sourcing stock for Gently Worn, a piece will speak to me and I just have to take it home.
“I never buy a piece knowing where it will go – once it’s home I find a place for it. For example, my coffee table started its life as an old door!”
Dee believes there must be no rules when decorating your home: “Your home should reflect your personality.”