TRAVEL STORIES

Cha Cha Verbeeck has travelled all over the world, recently spending five years sailing the Pacific and Indian Oceans, along with her husband, Eric, on their 114ft long catamaran. They visited many different countries, including Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, New Zealand and Fiji and Vanuatu, and their travel stories and finds have come together to create a wonderfully eclectic home that very much reflects Cha Cha who is the driving design force.
The apartment, in Portomaso, is full of interesting objects and textures in a rainbow of colours. ‘I have loved colour all my life,’ says Cha Cha. ‘It makes me feel happy.’ And the apartment certainly has a joyful vibe, from the cushions on the sofa to the colourful pots on the terrace to the striking cacti mural on the outside wall.
The couple, originally from Belgium, now call Malta their home, having fallen in love with it when visiting their son who himself has recently moved here. This apartment was chosen for its sea views but also because when they bought it, it was little more than four walls which allowed them to configure it just the way they wanted. They did this with the help of a Belgian architecture firm, the
starting point being the living room which was orientated facing the sea, with the rest of the apartment ranged behind it. Now with three main bedrooms, each with ensuite bathrooms, it also has an extensive dressing room, library as well as the spacious open plan living and dining area which is in turn framed by an expansive terrace. With the floor-to-ceiling doors pulled back, the inside segues to the outside, for a real sense of alfresco living.
The walls of the apartment are deliberately the same shade – the colour of the earth in Malta. In fact, the colour was made using actual Maltese earth which was then mixed into a paint by a craftsman in Belgium who has fine-tuned his art by working with historic buildings. Along with the lightly bleached oak floor, the sandy hue makes the perfect neutral background for the rich colour of the furniture and accessories, giving the space a sense of calm despite the energy of the colour.
Many of the items are from the couple’s travels, one-offs made by local craftsmen and women, such as the mural on the dining room wall which is from Thailand and shows the life of Buddha. ‘It is simple but I like it because it has meaning,’ says Cha Cha.
In the living room, a wooden chair bought in Burma is teamed with a patched cushion for interesting texture. The cushion, made from patchwork linen, was created by Belgian antique dealer and interior designer Jean-Philippe Demeyer, who made all the cushions found in the apartment. Off-setting the sense of the new, is an enormously long wooden dining table, its patina giving a comfortable lived in feel. ‘We do like to cook and entertain, have family and friends around,’ says Cha Cha.
Guests can enjoy the view from the terrace which is rich in interest. Created by The Garden Studio, brightly coloured pots found by Cha Cha in Asia are filled exclusively with cacti and succulents, the wide variety offering variations in colour, texture and look. ‘I love the plant but it is impossible to grow it in Belgium,’ says Cha Cha. ‘As soon as I came here I realised I had the perfect place to grow them.’ And the perfect place to enjoy them too.