Top Billing Thursday 8:30pm Sunday 1:00pm
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.

Top Billing house - romantic renovation 2
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.

Top Billing house - romantic renovation 3
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.

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.

Top Billing house - romantic renovation 4

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.  


JVR Architects & Interiors

Deborah English
Pure Space Projects

The Cow Artworks

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

See more home features:


Bay Watch:
Bay Watch
In this snappy beach retreat, it’s classic not casual that defines the look
Click for contact details and photographs
Ebb & Flow:
Ebb & Flow
Ebb Tide is filled with designer panache that flows from one luxury apartment to the next
Click for contact details and photographs

Absolute Altitude:
Absolute Altitude
Space meets Energy in this stylish Joburg renovation
Click for contact details and photographs
A Summer Place:
A Summer Place
Reliving the golden era of Hollywood in the Summers family’s stylish Sandton penthouse apartment
Click for contact details and photographs

A masculine Ranch-style loft:
A masculine Ranch-style loft
Indelible charisma and a keen eye for design has garnered David Muirhead many kudos in the interior design industry. Join us as we explore his Ranch-style loft.
Click to read more
A stately Bishops Court home:
A stately Bishops Court home
A stately home on the slopes of Table Mountain enjoys a mammoth make-over, proving that you don’t need to break the bank to get the goods.
Click to see more

Equitania: A wine-estate home:
Equitania: A wine-estate home
A wine-estate home celebrates equilibrium through eccentricity
Click to read more
The London Calling:
The London Calling
Melding multi-disciplined art and interior design, a dynamic duo set to storm the UK design hotspot.
Click to read more
Print Friendly Print Friendly

Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Top Billing's RSS Feeds
Top Billing on TwitterTop Billing on Facebook
Wedding Inspiration
Have you been watching The Insider SA
Yes! Loving it
Not yet but I will now
Haven't heard about it yet
Vote now  View Poll Results
Broadcasting for Total Citizen Empowerment
About the SABC Contact Us Jobs
Advertise Disclaimer Site Map

SABC © 2011
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
© Copyright 2010 Top Billing | Site created by  Fusia Web Services