When it comes to decorating a home, artist and shop owner Michael Chandler shirks design labels like “traditional” or “modern.” Instead, he believes the common denominator of any house should be you. With this approach, if you love a piece, get it. If it doesn’t match, who cares? “Live in the moment!” Michael exclaims, and make yourself the axis around which your space revolves. Design with this in mind, and “all the seemingly-unrelated pieces [you’ve collected]” will organically blend together to create a deeply-personal retreat, not because of what it’s made of but because of who crafted it.
Step inside Michael’s own retreat, a 900-square-foot rental in South Africa’s Cape Town, and you’re immediately transported to his world. It’s a place where his past mingles with the present, a wall can always hold one more painting, and a constant parade of new finds eagerly tries to catch your eye.
Oftentimes these new works of art find their way to Michael through his gallery and shop, Chandler House. It’s there that he gets the opportunity to not only meet many of Cape Town’s creative players but to fall in love with their craft. One such artist is Olivié Keck, whom Michael recently worked with to create a quaint artistic chapel. Always on the lookout for exciting accessories, Michael ended up bringing one of Olivié’s Madonna statues home so he could create his own “quiet space” inside his rental. You’ll find it sitting beneath a lampshade spiced up by a tasseled trim of dangling coral. Nearby, an ever-growing collection of blue-and-white ceramics bursts from the painted interior of an antique hutch.
While the inside of the apartment is undoubtedly eye-catching, the part of Cape Town it sits above seems downright picturesque. Open any window of the top-floor unit, and murmurs from the bustling bagel shops and restaurants below float through, providing a hushed soundtrack to nights in with friends. Come sunset, guests can even sit back and enjoy the home’s unbeatable view of Table Mountain, South Africa’s most iconic landmark.
All things considered, the element Michael speaks most fondly of isn’t the apartment’s curated walls or buzzing location. No, it’s the home’s proximity to the nearby Muslim neighborhood the Bo-Kaap that Michael seems to cherish most of all. Five times a day the mosque calls its followers to prayer, and Michael can hear it right there in his bedroom. “It’s wonderful,” he says, and something he’ll greatly miss when the time comes to move on to his next home. He isn’t sure when that will happen, but he knows a change is inevitable. Until then, you’ll find him savoring every minute inside this colorful, layered roost. —Garrett
Photography by Michael Chandler
Image above: The previous tenant – an artist who was using the space as a studio – needed extremely-brilliant overhead lights to create their work, and the amount of wattage they left behind was much too severe for a residential space. Rejiggering the rental to make its lighting more inviting and less severe was the first thing Michael did after moving in.
Table, chairs – Riaan Bolt
Shells – Lucie de Moyencourt
Paintings – Kate Arthur, Patricia Fraser
Ceramic Madonna – Olivié Keck
Portrait of Muslim boys – Yasser Booley
Floral artwork near staircase – Jordan Sweke