Escape into the forest with Otto de Jager and discover his unique wetland home. Otto’s curated interior design brings sophistication and cohesion to Otto’s botany-inspired sanctuary.

The iconic events planner and interior design extraordinaire, Otto de Jager, invites The Insider SA into his delightful retreat from the city. Otto’s home is based on a natural wetland in the middle of Johannesburg and is a reflection of his free-spirited style and personal history.

It’s Otto’s motto that no matter how grand and extravagant or elegantly simple an event is, it’s Otto’s job to make it special, spoken about, and imprint memories for life. The same applies to his unique home.

“I’m so proud to be the curator of this natural wetland. It gives me such incredible joy,” shares Otto.

“If you look around, it feels just like a little forest or farm.”

Otto explains his process of collaboration with architect, Peter Cohen, saying, “The decision was that from every angle, the wetland and the trees from this area had to be the focus. When it came to this property, the immediate sense of what I wanted to create here was a forest clearing.”

The natural wetland Otto’s preserved and nurtured creates an abundance of water and the tranquil design of his home is at one with its surrounds. Here, Otto even harvests his own honey from the beehives he’s installed.

Inside his home, Otto shares what it means to design a curated interior. “It’s not about just buying things and throwing it together. There’s a very careful, thought-out process so that one object can speak to another object. It reflects the personality of the people living in those spaces and how those spaces are used every day.”

Known for being a collector of interesting and intriguing objects, Otto’s home is filled with craftsman antiques, botany, and art. Each unusual item reflects his personality, personal history, and travels. The home is calm and serene, whilst still creating a sense of simplistic luxury.

“The house is full of surprises,” shares Otto, “I just love the juxtaposition of things. You can see the city, turn around, and then you have the forest right there.”

Every room in the house is unique, allowing for a multitude of emotions to come through, whilst still reflecting Otto’s overall perspective. For Otto, part of curated interior designing is that there should be a continual thread of conversation from one end of the house to the other.

The main bedroom acts as Otto’s personal treehouse. From the balcony, Otto can enjoy his private sanctuary while still inviting nature indoors. His bathroom is completed with an outdoor shower on a private balcony and a bathtub looking out onto the lush foliage outside.

“I like to colour expected spaces into unexpected spaces” says Otto as he walks us through his second bedroom – a multi-use room that’s used as both a TV lounge and a guest room if needed.

Otto shares his favourite part about his home, saying, “In the stillness, staring at my forest, I’ve come to realise there are beautiful things in life and this is nature and God’s way of saying we need to stand still, look at our lives, and re-evaluate what really matters to us.”

Otto believes that sustainability needs to be an integral part of each of our daily lives, and it’s a philosophy this free-spirited designer has chosen to live by.