This contemporary Jo’burg home with country roots bucks residential estate trends and looks outside for inspiration
Tucked down a gated lane in one of Johannesburg’s best-loved estates, this unassuming home steers clear of grand statements, giving little away at first glance. From the street, a clean-lined, white-walled, barn-style building with a neat roof emerges from its inconspicuous position below road level, more striking for its simplicity than its flashiness.
The home takes inspiration from examples of classic farmhouses, with its dominant rectangular form, pitched, galvanised iron roof and expansive entrance court, which makes arrival an occasion in its own right. A stripped-back façade belies what awaits inside, save for a large glass window that peers into a courtyard where Mark Swart’s ‘Reading Man’ sculpture reclines among the tall grass.
Stepping through the front door into the entrance area with its low-slung ceiling, the house opens up dramatically and suddenly into a staggering double-volume living area and vast glass wall that offers the garden up to viewers, determinedly connecting the two.
Due to the owners’ love of the outdoors, the view was of utmost importance. Diminishing the separation between inside and out, glazing extends the full length of the northern façade from floor to ceiling, while an axial view from the front door in the south through the glass in the north ensures a strong bond from the outset. ‘This axis from arrival court to garden, by means of exciting serial vision, strengthens the unity of house and garden, making the one part of the other,’ explains Johan Bergenthuin of Bergenthuin Architects. Openings along the way also link the spacious covered veranda with the interior, drawing you out.
Together with interior designer Sumari Krige and her team at La Grange Interiors, they were tasked with conceiving an understated and comfortable home, with interiors that wouldn’t date. ‘They wanted a family home, not a showcase,’ Krige recalls of her brief from the homeowners, a couple who have demanding corporate jobs and are raising two teenagers.
While Krige has injected the space with a handful of juicy colours, she’s steered clear of pieces that ‘shout’, and defends her reputation for carefully balanced interiors. Inky blue and aubergine-hued velvets are teamed with warm wood, light grey walls, oak floors and raw concrete, while an inventory of collectable artworks by the likes of Jordan Sweke and Deborah Bell animate the walls. The result is an aesthetic that’s both stylish and relaxed, but designed not to distract from the all-important vistas.
In the voluminous living room, Krige opted for a well-positioned sofa and a set of Prato open-backed armchairs, chosen for their low back height and translucency. ‘We anchored the room with a group of transparent pendant lights that we designed in-house,’ she adds of the light feature that links the space with the lofty expanse above it.
The open-plan kitchen and lounge area is a nexus for the family, whose lives intersect in this welcoming zone. From the kitchen, with its interactive bar counter and intimate breakfast area, to the cosy TV lounge and study area for the kids, it’s a space designed to cater to everyone’s needs.
Upstairs, a sense of calm prevails, thanks to a predominantly pale grey and white scheme, with oak to bring balance. All three bedrooms claim a stellar vantage point over the garden, which was designed by renowned landscape architect Patrick Watson. Together with Rekopane Landscapes, he’s created an understated layout with wild grasses and clipped lawn that steps down a series of small terraces.
It’s a low-key plan that capitalises on the scale of the site while concealing neighbours and street traffic with a thicket of trees along its boundaries. Just like the interior, there’s a thread of restraint that runs through the impressive garden, with the two in constant dialogue with each other.
Text: Mila Crewe-Brown Photographs: Elsa Young
For more home interiors inspiration read Juliette Arrighi de Casanova’s Bijou Kenilworth Apartment, Home Tour: A Sophisticated Green Point Apartment and Classic Elegance in Leafy Jonkershoek next.