By Jess Binns, Project Consultant Avril Elias, Property Coordinator Catherine de Vincenzo, Photography Val Adamson and Chris Allan

KwaZulu-Natal interior designer Cara Slater embarked on the design and development of Saxonwood Villas alongside her father, Norman Slater, in 2012. The father-daughter combination proved invaluable throughout the process, as Cara fondly remembers: “Dad often picked up on the practicalities, whereas I brought a female approach.”

One month before Cara and her family were due to move into their unit, Norman sadly passed away. Determined to finish Saxonwood to a standard her father would have been proud of, Cara executed the rest of the development with the drive and passion they had shared for the project.

The home is nestled in the vast indigenous forest that runs through the coastal estate of Dunkirk. Playing on this strong link to nature, the design opens each space out into the bush; even from the bath you can look directly into the canopies of the trees. Where privacy is needed, it’s given; only the wildlife can look in.

The open-plan ground floor extends out onto the greying balau deck, a wonderful area from which to enjoy the stars on a clear night. Opting for a green/grey palette, Cara hoped to unify the house with its natural surroundings. “Grey can be a difficult colour to work with; greener tones tend to blend better with the outside,” she says.

But it’s not only a picture of interior beauty; this home has a host of helpful and functional attributes. All of the light fixtures are LED, a prepaid meter has been installed, provision has been made to fit JoJo tanks in the future, and the roof was designed to meet the requirements for solar panel installation. In time, this house will evolve to meet the needs of its growing family.

Involved from the start, Cara worked tirelessly with the architect and structural engineer to achieve the best outcome, considering all aspects of daily living and how to exceed the average needs of each person. One example of this is an area of land adjacent to the house that was built up so that when you walk out of your bedroom onto the balcony, you are greeted by a generous-sized lawn.

The lounge, dining area and kitchen flow happily into one another. The kitchen features practical, but beautifully reflective white worktops and units, adding light where it’s most needed, towards the centre of the house. The giant dining table is made from reclaimed elm; the rawness of the wood lends a rustic feel to the space.

Accents are drawn in subtly through the soft furnishings. The statement geometric rug and the feature wall finished in a deeper tone of grey both add a touch of drama to the relaxed atmosphere.

Two years on, Saxonwood is a proud reflection of the legacy that Norman left behind.