Robins Nest showcased on Top Billing

Zesty Top Billing presenter, Ursula Stapelfeldt Chikane, had a memorable helicopter flight onto Simola Estate for more than one reason – not just the unforgettable views over Knysna Lagoon and the prestigious golf estate, but also a rain spider in the cockpit!

Simola pilot Ralph Rudansky (left), cameraman David Minnaar, Top Billing presenter Ursula Stapelfeldt Chikane, soundman Buddy Gaylard and programme director and cameraman, Wimpie Ackermann who got to wear a ‘monkey belt’ with which to hang out of the helicopter for the aerial shots. (Rain spider not featured on photograph.)

“Its not that I’m afraid of spiders,” the spunky lady grinned as she stepped down out of the helicopter on Tuesday, February 28, “but this one moves rather fast!” Nonetheless, Stapelfeldt Chikane, who is widely recognised as one of South Africa’s most talented television and radio presenters, was visibly in awe of the spectacular setting for the lifestyle series’ shoot.

Top Billing location scout, Patience Molope, selects only the most breathtakingly beautiful and inspiring homes, not just in South Africa but also at international destinations, to feature in the travel and decor programme. House Kaschula, owned by Avril and Joanne Kaschula, was promptly selected.

Says interior decorator and designer, Idonia Chandler of Robin’s Nest Interiors George: “It is all about location, location, location and what a stunning home!”

Chandler, who was interviewed by Stapelfeldt Chikane, feels House Kaschula was a decorator’s dream. It is an expansive house situated on a prime site on the luxury Simola Hotel and Golf Resort offering spectacular 360 degree views over the golf course and to the Knysna Heads.

“The house is contemporary and sophisticated yet holistic and calm. The views and surroundings become part of the house,” says Chandler. “The client had a strong opinion of preferences and needs but they were also open to new ideas and suggestions. It was a requirement to use local suppliers, artisans and furniture makers from the Southern Cape region as far as possible.”

Chandler worked on House Kaschula in 2008 and its decor was upgraded again in the week prior to the Top Billing shoot.

As the television team from Johannesburg soon found out, House Kaschula is all about the views! Stapelfeldt Chikane especially liked the main lounge, which is used for all the entertainment, and is dressed in blues and earth tone colours, as well as the external patio that is an extension of the indoor environment. The main bedroom was kept calm and tranquil with touches of mauve and citrine, including a deep-button headboard. Downstairs, the children’s lounge is finished in bolder reds and blues to create a less formal and more playful feel. The director of the crew, Wimpie Ackermann also enjoyed the unusual angles at which the living areas were decorated. “This will work really well,” he mused as the team arrived from George Airport, well in advance of the presenter’s arrival.

Loading all their heavy and cumbersome gear from their van, cameraman David Minnaar was all muscle: “We are used to this (the unloading and loading of their cameras, extension cords and filters) and usually get to travel about twice a month. Sometimes even abroad.”

The crew explained that the whole programme is put together in a single day. In the morning the house interiors, surroundings and interviews are recorded and in the evening the inserts are shot. Recalled Chandler: “The Simola shoot started at 10:00 and was done by 21:30, which, according to them was early. They would normally carry on till midnight or later!” As the interior decorator and designer, Chandler had to ensure that House Kaschula was looking its absolute best for the visiting film crew, and she also had to explain on camera some of its most charming features.

“There are a few features in the house worth specific mention, such as the table in the entrance hall which I designed and had custom-made by a local furniture maker. The cinema room was inspired by Marilyn Monroe and James Dean and we clad the walls rather decadently with ostrich leather. Both televisions in the main lounge and bedroom disappear from sight into the ceiling and cabinet work at the touch of a button.”

She also got along excellently with the presenter, who she says was extremely helpful in guiding her through the whole interview process.

The whole team was young, energetic and extremely professional and, apart from Ackermann and Minnaar, they also brought along a soundman, Buddy Gaylard.

“These guys had lots of stories about all their travelling escapades around the world and had me in stitches. Because the weather did not play along initially, they had all kinds of tricks to overcome this, such as adding special filters to the lenses to make it appear like sunlight when in fact it was overcast. The whole crew was very appreciative of Simola’s hospitality and generosity. I will stick to what I know. Although these presenters make it look so easy it’s rather nerve-wracking!” laughs a thrilled Chandler at was an experience she is sure not to ever forget.

Asked about the ‘extra cargo’ on his flight, Simola pilot Ralph Rudansky chuckled: “I don’t know how that happened, but as I was on my way to pick up the Top Billing presenter I just felt something hairy move on my arm – and smacked that spider away so hard that we couldn’t find it again!”

The Top Billing episode featuring Simola was broadcast on Tuesday, March 6 on SABC 3.

nterior decorator and designer, Idonia Chandler of Robin’s Nest Interiors George had to make sure everything looked stunning and ran smoothly.Chandler has been an interior decorator and designer for 15 years and has been involved with a number of prestigious projects such as Simola Hotel, the Queenstown Victoria Hotel, Pinnacle Point, Katburg, Oubaai and Fancourt.

Interior decorator and designer, Idonia Chandler of Robin’s Nest Interiors George had to make sure everything looked stunning and ran smoothly.

Article: Anoeschka von Meck, Knysna-Plett Herald Journalist.
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