INTRO: The Fortmans named their High Constantia home The Hilton because of the number of guests that come to stay. Dawn Kennedy snooped around.

Copy: The moment you step through the front door you understand why The Hilton is such a popular destination for visitors. Immediately you enter this High Constantia home you are steeped in space and light. The entrance is designed around a European style courtyard, which creates a Zen sense of spaciousness at the centre of the home. The high thatched ceiling adds to the expansive effect.

Ellen Fortman, husband Alex and children Emma (10)and Junior (6) moved recently to South Africa from The Hague. Ellen says that when she first arrived she was shocked by the uninspired color schemes of the interiors. Her vivacious and warm personality is reflected in her style which she describes as “hip, but not vulgar; stylish but not old fashioned.” She loves to set bold colors against a cool, clean background – peer into any one of the rooms that lead off the cool, crisp hallway and your eye is arrested by playful splashes of color.

While every room has a signature feel the overall effect is of a harmonious flow throughout the house. Ellen says, “I try and create rooms that have a similar feel. Throughout the house the walls and curtains are the same but every room must has its own characteristic touch and color scheme. I want to create peace of mind; but it mustn’t be boring.”

She says, “It was a cold house and people could not see its potential.” For Ellen, “A home must have a cozy feel. Everyone must feel comfy.” Her first step was to get rid of the cold, black modern kitchen and replace it with an inviting, farm-style one. She clad the walls, used fresh nautical blue on the built -in cupboards and replaced the heavy-duty furniture fittings with antique style door knobs bought in Amsterdam.
Next she created the living space. She had her heart set on purple, in particular a piece of fabric from Poland. She re-upholstered some of the furniture which she brought from her townhouse in The Hague. She used gold and silver accents to compliment the purple. The effect is regal, dramatic and luxurious.
Ellen’s home successfully blends European chic with African earthiness. She says, “The natural environment should be reflected in a home; when you step inside there’s a sense of continuity from the outside. Where we live is so beautiful – I don’t think there can be many more beautiful places on earth than this – and everywhere you look there are large windows with breathtaking views to appreciate.”
Ellen’s little black book
For exquisite one off pieces of furniture Ellen shops at Farriers Fine Furniture (021) 761 4767. “I adore going there. They have an amazing new kitchen shop. And after you have finished shopping you can enjoy a coffee at High Tea (021) 797 1421. They have the best Amsterdammeertjes in Cape Town. Also in the same complex is Aldona’s Crystal and Linen shop. “Aldona imports the most exquisite linen from Poland. That’s where I found the purple fabric for my lounge.”

I’m also a regular customer at Constantia Interiors (021) 794 2308. They import excellent fabrics from Europe.

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