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A masculine Ranch-style loft

David Muirhead's loft 1

ABOVE: In close collaboration with business partner and sister, Mandy Groves, the hallmark of a David Muirhead & Associates interior 
is a glamorous, elegantly considered eclecticism.


Couture Club

His indelible charisma and keen eye for design has garnered David Muirhead many kudos in the interior design industry, but the magic maker’s stroke is equally evident in his own Ranch-style loft.

Production Colin o’Mara Davis  Photographs Gunther Gräter

You’re going to buy my house,’ said Aubrey Wiener almost a decade ago. ‘Why, yes I am,’ replied designer David Muirhead all of two seconds later. It was an unassuming little house – not without charm – built in 1958 on a patch in Parkmore of around 1000m2. ‘I would have bought it for the tree,’ David explains, referring to the garden’s bastion, now nestling an enormous chandelier.

David Muirhead's loft 2
ABOVE LEFT: Having worked extensively under 
Trisha Wilson, US interior designer extraordinaire, David’s sense of aesthetic is glamorous, though maturely restrained.
ABOVE MIDDLE: David’s dining area is informally styled, though classically inspired 
– flanking the dining table with reproduction Louis XVI occasionals and heading either end with dining height wingbacks.
ABOVE RIGHT: Palm motif wallpaper by Cole & Son for St Leger & Viney.

Though an internship under design doyen Stephen Falcke in the early Nineties cemented a passion for interiors, the man’s been matching fabric to finishes since age three.

‘My mother kept activity and scrapbooks – I guess we always go back to what we know best,’ he laughs.
Today his inspiring interiors invite the well-heeled, whether in sophisticated residence or elegant boutique hotels, locally and abroad. In his own home, however, no-one 
proves a more discerning client than David himself.

‘I really respond to the idea of apartment or loft-living,’ he admits. ‘But I don’t necessarily want to live in the CBD.’ And so, the designer who readily admits to seeing potential in any disaster, set about revitalising the built structure to accommodate his lofty aspirations.

David Muirhead's loft 3
ABOVE: The guest suite mirrors the main apartment’s opulent interior styling. The three-seater sofa is upholstered in a daring silver PVC from St Leger & Viney.

This house’s provenance is characteristic of the Early Modern era, though today rather disdainfully referred to as  Ranch-style houses, these simple single-storey, low-profile houses were popularised in the United States as new suburbs exploded onto the landscape to house the booming Silent Generation. Informed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s canonical Prairie-style houses, the Ranch (or Rambler) typically features low, horizontal lines, low-pitched roof and wide eaves (overhangs) with open interior spaces where public and private areas are split to either side of the house. Unpretentious though they may be, these houses fell out of favour by the late Seventies and were often criticised for being style-less – and as many people are apt to do, these houses have (for the greater part of this young century) been pummelled, ploughed, prepped and proportioned to suit contemporary tastes, albeit with varying degrees of success and, arguably, only for the sheer butchery of it.

David Muirhead's loft 4
ABOVE LEFT: Molly Muirhead.
ABOVE MIDDLE: Murano glasswork, bronze statuettes 
and African artefacts infuse the main lounge with a well-travelled worldliness and make for excellent conversation starters.
ABOVE RIGHT:This suite’s signature colour scheme includes cool greys, pewter, champagne and antique gold. Graphical paisley prints on upholstery fabric provide thematic accents.

David asserts that his MO is not to impose any set of presupposed ideals or identities when accruing a new project. ‘It’s about the integrity of design,’ he exclaims. ‘Every project needs to be approached on its individual merits.’

The trick, in this instance, lay in re-imagining the house while being mindful of the structure’s format and inherent character. David prefers to think about rooms as suites – or self-contained lifestyle hubs – where spatial delineation is dictated by the intended activities and experience that the interior plays party to. Naturally, the interior walls were the first to go, opening up vistas for a greater experience of space. According to Mr Muirhead, homes are meant to be sanctuaries – a complete escape from the working world’s rat race. The open-plan living and dining area is an elegant expanse of Crema marble floors canopied by lowered ceilings and bulkheads. Where the original fireplace was a central feature, it has been moved towards the perimeter as a subtle signifier of spatial divide into the formal lounge. The fireplace surround was then mirror-clad, not only to bounce light into the room, but also to reflect the garden’s tropical greenery.

Top Tip
Keep interior walls neutral to really show off individual pieces of furniture and paint skirting boards, door and window casings a brilliant white to emphasise and frame spaces.

David Muirhead's loft 5
ABOVE LEFT: David’s own bathroom 
is as practical as it is trendy – featuring floating shelves, lowered bulkheads, chandelier and PVC petit chaise, the designer’s love for interiors looks set 
to love him right back.
ABOVE MIDDLE: The master bedroom hosts 
a chrome four-poster, its modern appeal offset by classical tub chairs with deep-buttoned detail in champagne velvet.
ABOVE RIGHT:  Enveloping the guest en suite, raised croc-skin wallpaper and Deco mosaic mirrors make for a trendy safari-style bathroom.

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