Inside a South African Designer’s Home: Jacqui McArthur

Inside a South African Designer’s Home: Jacqui McArthur

I first connected with Jacqui McArthur, an interior decorator living in Cape Town, South Africa, about 4 years ago when I first started Citizen Atelier. She was one of the very first people to purchase artwork from the gallery and it was one of my beloved pieces, a whimsical ballerina print from Toronto photographer, Vanessa Paxton. Later that year, her home tour was published in House and Leisure magazine and I completely fell in love with her feminine, bold and eclectic style. Jacqui was also the one to introduce me to the breathtaking work of Krisjan Rossouw, a talented South African photographer whom I’ve now been working with for the last 3 years.

Jacqui is really a woman of the world; she’s lived in London working as a visual merchandise for one the UK’s leading luxury clothing retailers, as well as in Dubai and Singapore. The South African lifestyle and proximity to her family led her to move back to Cape Town a few years ago, where she lives with her children, Brooke Eva and Rhett. She runs the decor and lifestyle blog Brooke Eva, named after her daughter. I’ve always admired Jacqui’s beautiful aesthetic (both fashion and decor!), her kindness and demeanour.

I’m excited to share an exclusive look at Jacqui’s beautifully layered home, which includes a number of pieces from Citizen Atelier.

What was your inspiration when designing your home?

I’m a firm believer in being authentic. One’s home is such a personal space, so I believe it should reflect who you are. And most importantly, speak to your lifestyle. I wanted a space that is both in keeping with my personal aesthetic, but suited to having a young family. I have a penchant for dark, moody walls mixed with clean, white and light spaces. Filling my home with items I love and that make me happy are my top priority. No two homes are the same. I would describe mine as Scandi-inspired with a fairly neutral pallette with pops of colour.

Your home features a beautiful mix of layered items. What’s your no. 1 style tip for creating a multi-dimensional space?

Let go of being concerned with what your home should look like. Create a space that tells the story of who you are; your home tells a story, so make it a good one! Surround yourself with objects you love. One top tip is to play around with different heights of objects and group them in unexpected ways, to give your space visual interest. I’m a big believer in the mix. For me, mixing collections provides the most visual stimulation. Instead of grouping the pieces from only one collection, which typically limits you to “like” objects, I combine different items to ensure a mix of textures and shapes.

You have great taste in art! What’s your approach to choosing pieces for your space?

I’m obsessed with photographic art. It just speaks to me. Art is important in a home because it finishes off a space. My approach is pretty simple; I have a distinct style when it comes to art, so I gravitate towards black and white photography and images that I somehow feel connected to. There has to be a connection. The art in my home has to be something I want to look at everyday, and enjoy doing so. My favorites are “Shaken not Stirred”, a black and white shot of Roger Moore downing a Martini with a cigarette in hand. And of course, my Cuervo Bueno print by Antonio Mora.

What’s the best thing about living in South Africa?

At the risk of sounding a bit cliché, it has to firstly be living in the same city as my family. After 11 years of living in London, Dubai and Singapore, having them a part of mine and my children’s everyday life is something I treasure. Besides that, where do I start? Cape Town has the most beautiful beaches, unspoiled nature and vineyards. It’s filled with a spirit of entrepreneurial talent, which makes it a very exciting and dynamic place to live.

Create a space that tells the story of who you are; your home tells a story, so make it a good one!

What are 5 must-see spots in Cape Town?

Best Breakfast in town has to be Hemelhuijs. The decor is as amazing as the food. Total package! A trip to the Franschoek wine region is also a must. Think vineyard after vineyard with the most beautiful mountainous terrain and lots of wine tasting. You can even take a tram, which goes to all the top wine estates–you don’t need to Uber! What a win! Babylonstoren has the most incredible gardens, which you can take a stroll through, followed by lunch at Babel. The food is seasonal and fresh from their garden.

Soak up the urban creativity on a street art tour in Woodstock. This trendy neighbourhood boasts a number of walls adorned with art in an array of colours and designs–and high tea at the Mount Nelson Dinner at The Pot Luck Club or The Shortmarket Club (book way in advance).

What’s next for you?

After three years as creative director at a bespoke fashion and lifestyle PR agency, I took the leap to follow my first loves: decor and styling. I have recently gone at it solo to continue to build my career in interior styling.

Living BeautifullyJacqui’s key tips

No. 1. Your favorite travel destination…

Cape Town (naturally, as I live here now). I was born here, but then lived all over the globe. We have one of the seven wonders of the world, our beloved Table Mountain. I have an uninterrupted view of it from my bedroom window. Other than my home city, anywhere in Europe really. Most recently, my partner and I did a road trip, starting in Amsterdam, ending in Paris and back to Amsterdam. Paris is the city of lovers, but Amsterdam has my vote. Those Scandinavians are so on point with pretty much everything–homeware stores are killer!

No. 2. Favorite book or podcast…

I used to be an avid reader, but being a mum of two, running my own business and life getting in between, I’ll have to admit I don’t read books much anymore (time, it’s a tricky thing). I listen to TED talks on the go. It’s rather humorous and Larry Smith calls it like it is. He speaks of the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions. It’s a worth a listen.

No. 3. Top beauty secret…

Never ever go to bed with your makeup on! I’m obsessed with primer water. Apply it before your foundation; it sets your makeup and hydrates your skin, giving you a dewy complexion. SmashBox has a great primer water!

No. 4. The trait you admire most in others is…

Not being afraid to be who they are. Also, having a sense of humor and being able to laugh at oneself.

No. 5. Best way to spend a Sunday…

Sleep in for sure. It’s a rarity with kids. Brunch followed by a whole lot of doing nothing. I’m not very good at sitting still, but I force myself on Sundays to recharge for the week.

No. 6. If you could tell your 20-year-old self one thing…

Get over being concerned with what others think of you. Their minds and thoughts are theirs. Leave it with them. Also, sunscreen. Use it. And career wise, you probably don’t know what you want to do, and that’s ok.

No. 7. Best advice you’ve ever received for living the life of your dreams was…

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”- Judy Garland. Comparing yourself to others is a complete waste of time. Be you.

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SHOP Jacqui's Home

TROPIKA by Krisjan Rossouw TROPIKA by Krisjan Rossouw
CUERVO BUENO by Antonio Mora CUERVO BUENO by Antonio Mora