ABOVE: In the upstairs television lounge, a feature wall has been created using Cole & Son’s ‘Woods’ available from St Leger & Viney. Canvas block mounts custom-designed by AHHA Art (artahha.co.za). Achille Castiglioni Taccia lamp can be sourced through ELDC (eldc.co.za).
Make me Over
As sophisticated as it is playful, a family home in Durban’s Berea is an audacious salute to thinking out the box
Story NATALIE BORUVKA Production COLIN O'MARA DAVIS Photos GUNTHER GRäTER
The German saying ‘fortune and misfortune are two buckets in the same well’ is one that interior designer Grant Webster is certain to agree with, for little did he know that a couple of unfortunate domestic mishaps would see a modest commission evolve into a project of spectacular proportions.
The original brief supplied to him and his team at Fahrenheit Design was to give this coastal family home a small facelift. It looked to involve the selection of some soft furnishings and attendance to a few minor finishing details. He was met with the standard opener: ‘Don’t spend more than–.’ For the interior designer, a budget is more often than not a reality, and at times akin to any other occupational hazard in its ability to induce a condition of physical discomfort. In this case, however, a destructive flood and an alarming invasion of ants proved otherwise.
ABOVE LEFT: A backdrop of silver gives the dining area a dramatic stage-like presence. Curtain fabric obsession silver from stuart Graham. Haldane martin weightless table, Louis Ghost chairs by Kartell available from twiice international and maria theresa chandelier, Cobin Lighting 031-312-1460. the ‘stair- climbing’ ottoman in a two-tone white geometric vinyl was custom-designed to encourage the children to interact in the formal living area. manufactured by triple J Joinery. ABOVE RIGHT: All the communal areas, including the kitchen, dining room, formal and informal living areas and the patio, emanate from the entrance hall.
The calamities necessitated the removal of the ground-level wood flooring, which afforded Grant the opportunity to recommend the installation of fabulous grey cement-lookalike tiles. This in turn led to the repainting of walls and, one by one, Grant worked through the selection of finishes with his clients. As the relationship strengthened, so the budget expanded and the brief widened both in degree and scope. Shared dinners with the family gave Grant direct access to their lifestyle and, as he puts it, ‘was the simplest inroad to the real truth’.
‘We love working closely with our clients,’ he reveals, ‘and when trust forms between all involved, the possibilities for a bit of fun and experimentation grow.’
ABOVE: The kitchen and informal ‘theatre’ lounge is a space where the owners and their two teenage daughters spend much of their time together. White leather ottoman with stainless-steel frame custom-designed by Fahrenheit Design. Scatter cushions in Linen Damask, Hertex and Mercury velvet, Tessa Sonik. The wool rug was custom-designed and manufactured by brabetz Custom Rugs 031-701-8789. Chairs at the breakfast table, Peter JA Stuart and barstools, Sean Williams Contracts.
The truth, as it turns out, was that the owners were more than agreeable to all the innovative ideas he envisioned for their home. Open-minded, free-thinking and experimental – these are dream adjectives with which every interior designer wishes to describe their clients.
‘Vanessa and Willy were great. They did not want us to do what we had done before, or to do something that they had seen somewhere in a magazine. In fact, they never gave us a single point of reference,’ adds Grant.
ABOVE: Situated in Durban’s Berea, the home is treated to glorious views of the city and ocean.
Radiating from the double-volume entrance hall, the show-stopping ground floor is an all- encompassing living expanse incorporating dining area, an outlandishly generous kitchen and two living areas – one recessed and more formal, the other the family’s ‘theatre’. Each has access to the outdoors via balconies and a bounty of windows, thus treating the whole space to marvellous vistas of the ocean-flanked city. The space is brimming with dynamic features, most novel of which are the sexy corseted columns.
ABOVE: Guests are treated to 100 percent luxury and drama in the guest bathroom. Romo Kimura wallpaper available through The Fabric Library. Reflected in the mirror-panelling, occasional chairs in Prima Donna by Home Fabrics, made up by Leighjer Designs 086-651-5357. Side- table from Weylandts.
Adamant that they be turned into something unique, a process of experimentation ensued involving a variety of applications, starting with wallpaper, and moving on to Marmoran wall coatings, paint effects and, finally, silver leafing. None had the desired wow- factor until Grant had what he recalls as a moment of temporary insanity.
‘I decided to make a full-length bodice out of metallic leather, bound and laced up by a stainless- steel cable. Crazy as it sounded at the time, it was a really good solution,’ he confesses.
Further bold ideas took shape. Areas of the ground-floor walls were clad in mirror up to almost four metres high in order to reflect as much of the incredible views as possible, while the guest restroom (just gorgeous) was robed head-to-toe in
* This article is from the Top Billing Magazine archive as printed in August 2010
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