Harbour House Restaurant, Kalk Bay by CODE / Collaborative Design

Rustic harbour overlaid with sophisticated elegance for Harbour House restaurant

CODE worked on the redesign of the interior of the iconic Harbour House fine dining seafood restaurant, famously located on the very edge of the Kalk Bay Harbour.

The challenge was to retain the charm of the weathered facade while refreshing the interiors, including a new bar and the deck extension, to that of a sophisticated, skillfully decorated beach home.

The natural environment, and its relation to the restaurant, played an important role in informing – and inspiring – design and style choices for the Harbour House Restaurant, as much of the eatery’s appeal emanates from its unique position on the coast.

An effective design technique, we opted to utilise the power of contrast in this setting where the natural decay of the building adds to the character, charm and authenticity of the place.  

The result is a style best described as “rustic harbour overlaid with sophisticated elegance” where key interior elements have been stylishly polished to create a dynamic juxtaposition to the untamed nature of False Bay and the weather-worn fishing boats in the harbour.

Material choices for the interior were informed by function, foremost, although we carefully considered the effect of the various materials – wood, steel, cane, upholstery fabrics – on the overall aesthetic of the space. Special attention was paid to the outdoor upholstery to ensure its suitability for withstanding the elements, especially the sun which beats down harshly on the space in summer.  

Wood is used throughout the restaurant, working as both a natural, “grounding” element, as well as an effective way to neutralise the white that dominates the interior colour palette. Accent colours were strategically chosen and subtly introduced in key furniture pieces. Blue was a natural colour choice – an ode to the ocean – while shades of red lend a warmth to an otherwise cool, classic interior. The red is boldly used in the custom-made leather lounge suites that are as elegant as they are inviting. The three suites were added and positioned to add to the homely feel of the space, with a configuration that caters to couples as much as it does to larger parties of diners. Against the whites, neutrals and blues in the space, the bold, reddish leather packs quite the punch. A wide range of precious and exotic fabrics in tonal shades of navy blue were carefully curated and can be found throughout the spaces.

Polished stainless steel furnishings and the use of mirrors proved to offer another elegant and somewhat glittery contrast to the weathered exterior and the natural wildness of the ocean. Much more than an afterthought, the outside space was as skillfully and tastefully designed as the interior, with table structures in polished stainless steel and finished off with Iroko slatted tops. Both the stainless steel and the Iroko were selected for their durability and the aesthetic contrast it offers to the rest of the space. Iroko is a hardwood, which is highly resistant to the elements, and when oiled enhances the character of the wood beautifully, while also adding to its longevity.

Bespoke pieces, like an antique wardrobe and objet, like sea shells, hand-carved wooden ornaments, blue glass vessels and brass urns (speaking to a nautical theme), worked to add further character to the space that is reminiscent of the home of an intrepid traveller, full of unique collected pieces.

The redesign of the space made the bar the new central feature of the restaurant. It was refitted with a solid oak counter with a tongue-and-groove-style front, comparable to a traditional beach bar look and feel. This aesthetic was rounded off with cane barstools, chosen for their comfort and style. The glamour element, brought about thanks to the mirrors and the use of stainless steel throughout the space, is further evident in the custom designed wine glass rack that features recessed LED lighting to stylish effect. Even the liquor adds a touch of design as they sit on Perspex-tiered shelves with backlights that work to create a sensational sense of the sophisticated.

Wallpaper, custom designed by Robin Sprong and inspired by the design of the Moroccan tiles, backs the newly installed Morso fireplaces, creating a focal point at various intervals throughout the space. The trick here was to get the tone of grey exactly right so that it was not too cold in the predominantly white space.

We carefully considered the lighting to bring all the design and architectural elements together in a cohesive and ambient-rich way. Striking a balance between bright lighting for the daytime to offset the glare from the ocean, and very low ambient lighting at night to offset all the white in the space was the foremost priority. The entire restaurant was upgraded to warm white LED lighting. The ceiling in the main dining area was clad in Rhinoboard, skimmed and painted a carefully chosen, slightly off-white colour to create a smooth, flush look between the exposed trusses. This allowed for downlighters to be strategically placed to create pools of light over and around the tables. Additional downlighters were fitted to the cross beams for uplighting, as a way to add warmth to the stark white ceiling. Overall, CODE opted for concealed lighting, a technique whereby the light source is hidden from view.

Fynbos provides the finest finishing touch. Proteas enjoy pride of place in the restaurant, where an arrangement of these beauties have become something of a permanent design feature of the brand.


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