Durban - The moment you step on to the verandah and into the new home of Joani Mitchell, former Masterchef contestant and master of many trades, and her electrical engineer husband, Rory, you slow down.

While the couple live close to all the hustle and bustle of energetic Durban North, they’ve created a haven within it.

The house is perched on a hill with a 180º view of the ocean.

At the top the land has been levelled to make room for manicured lawns, a sparkling pool and a six-bedroom home.

Wrought-iron gates draw back to reveal a pastel grey house with white doors and windows, typical of a style popular among locals.

While this may not be the south of France we have the sunshine, the sea, nature and the foodie culture, which is perhaps why it works so well.

Further, the frenetic world we live in has made home owners crave serenity, rest and relaxation in their private spaces.

And so the Mitchells, like so many others, have taken retreat in neutral and natural tones and textures.

They’ve grounded their home with solid “aged-looking” wooden furniture and cottons and linen textiles that mimic sun-bleached surfaces.

They’ve planted a herb garden – emblematic of the Provence style – and decorated with pretty plates, baskets, ceramics and chandeliers (The one in the entrance is by Hellooow Handmade).

Joani, once a fashion designer and lecturer, whose fresh food produce business, Joani’s Meza, has recently taken off, is also an avid artist and many of the paintings in her home are her own.

Her husband, apart from designing and building the house, has also been hands on when it comes to the interiors.

One of his projects involved dismantling an old ball and claw table to make one half a dining table and the other a coffee table for the wide verandah.

The open-plan house, accented with duck egg blue and red, is a happy, easy and elegant place with nuances that take it beyond the style it belongs to and into that sought-after realm of private and personal. - Omeshnie Naidoo, The Mercury

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