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you are here: DECOR: Houses | A romantic renovation

A romantic renovation

Top Billing house - romantic renovation 1


A romantic renovation
Tinged with romance, this stylish 
 homecoming was well worth the wait


Words Natalie Boruvka, Production Colin O’Mara Davis, Photos Gunther Gräter

It was a long time in the making,’ says architect Joe van Rooyen, whose clients had waited for almost 10 years for someone who could realise their vision. Not that they had unreasonable or unattainable demands. What they wished for was really quite simple: a beautiful, warm home that was to be... nothing like it was before.

Convinced that Joe was the man for the job, the hard-working professionals moved out of their home for a year while the refurbishment took place. Cold, dark and inverted, it was in dire need of liberating. Its conventional windows and narrow, standard-height double doors were completely out of sync with the robust proportions of the structure. Inside, a compartmentalised approach to the interior saw it space-strapped and weighed down by uninspiring finishes. ‘I knew that with some simplifying and refinishing, the house could be transformed into a “lifestyle” for my clients,’ says Joe.

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ABOVE: Architect Joe Van Rooyen’s  objective was to create a ‘lifestyle’ for the owners by simplifying and refinishing the existing structure of the house, making it warmer through use of the solid oak flooring, sculptural shapes and a contained assortment of natural textures.


Where previously the house was entirely disengaged from its exterior environment, features have been put into place to re-establish the connection. Windows and doors, now apertures of a far more generous nature, beckon in floods of sunshine and every bedroom is given access to the garden through Juliet balconies and roof terraces. The once awkwardly separated dining room and kitchen have been transformed into a sun-filled living space with large arched doorways that forms the heart of the house. The arch, Joe informs, being an old-fashioned method of softly linking the interior and exterior. Another breaching element, a solid oak pergola, has been placed along the length of the open-plan kitchen and dining-room wall, and another leading to the front door of the house. The pergolas provide a degree of extended solidity, preventing the structure from coming to a harsh and abrupt halt, and once the star jasmine trains its way around the pillars, the softening effect will be enhanced. Before this happens, the horizontal beams which have been clad according to a 100-year-old tradition in copper to protect the timber will form a natural patina.

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ABOVE LEFT: The free-flow kitchen and dining room is the centre of activity in this home. Joe and his team broke out interior walls and linked interior spaces with the outside through a network of archways to become a seamless extension of the exterior deck. Pendant lights in the dining room by Successful Living from Diesel in partnership with Foscarini.

ABOVE RIGHT: EDITOR'S CHOICE
Entrances are one of my favourite areas in any house because it’s the first point of engagement with the interior. If your house were a book the entrance would be the prologue. In many ways it tells a visitor who you are, gives an indication of your taste and sets the tone for the rest of your decor scheme. What I love about this house is the floor to mezzanine-level shelving filled with simple treasures and the owners’ mementoes.

It’s this contrast between simplicity and detail that follows through into the interior, with beautiful old French doors playing a starring role. They have been stripped down and the wood given an aged appearance that delicately counterbalances the individually sourced antique glass inserts.  Architraves have been kept plain, providing a subtle yet intentional complement to the exquisitely detailed hinges. Responsible for this diverging harmony finding further anchor in the furnishings and interior finishes is interior designer Deborah English. In the main bedroom, for instance, the bedside tables are completely mismatched. Used in the interim until the correct ones arrive, the simultaneously conflicting complementary pair reflects Deborah’s approach to the interior as a work in the making.

‘You need to live in a space to understand it and not to be too precious,’ she says.

Her passion for pieces with history is reflected in an impressive assortment of antique cabinets, armoires and other singularly unusual items. Most had been collected over a period of a year and put into storage. When it came to placing them, a lot of reshuffling took place because where there was once a wall, Joe had had it removed. Everything now has a home, even the enormous wardrobe begged from the Malcom Klûk fashion store in Cape Town, which stands proud in the main bedroom passage. 

Again, to the contrary, the house is not filled with a varied collection of paintings but exclusively black-and-white photographic prints that have in some areas been blown up to create dramatically clad walls.
‘The owners,’ informs Doreen Pfeiffer of The Cow Artworks, ‘are not into traditional mediums of art but appreciate far more the essence and emotional value of a photograph.’

A romantic elevation featuring French iron balustrades stretches across the entire length of a living-room wall, an engaging reflection of the house’s own shutters and balconies. 


BELOW: The overall palette cool and non-specific, interior designer Deborah English opts instead to infuse character and history through a carefully considered (yet mismatched) medley of antique and contemporary furniture. Black and white photography is the medium of choice for artwork throughout the house.

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An integral feature of the architectural environ-ment, the garden has not escaped the overhaul.
Where it was originally an eclectic mix of plants, landscape designer Shirley Wallington has established a romantic feel with a stronger footprint of simple, unfussy variety. It is the final link in a chain of synergy that has entrenched an indelibly personable character in a home that was inordinately without.  


Contacts:

JVR Architects & Interiors
011-646-4097
joe@jvrarchitects.co.za
joevanrooyen.co.za

Deborah English
Pure Space Projects
deborah@pure-space.co.za

The Cow Artworks
doreen.pfeiffer@tiscali.co.za
cowartworks.com

Shirley Wallington 083-950-3998
Strelitzia Landscaping 082-454-2869


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