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A stylish Joburg bachelor pad

Top Billing house - Stylish bachelor apartment

ABOVE: An oversized Richard Smith painting of a head fills the space above the fireplace. White ceramics and memorabilia stand on symmetrical glass shelves on either side. Surry plastered walls are painted in a papyrus colour.


A sense for style
A bachelor pad with a unique flow and iconic features was just what architect Joe van Rooyen was searching for to call home.

Words Lizzie Staughton Stylist Stephen Graham Photographs Gunther Gräter

It’s easy to see why architect Joe van Rooyen fell in love at first sight with his new bachelor pad. Tucked away below the Melville Koppies on a 730m2 stand, it needed really good architecture to make the most of the small space and was originally designed by the late Carmel Black, an architect of legendary status.

‘Carmel built it for herself,’ says Joe, ‘and it is quite an indulgent space – it’s the ultimate Joburg pad! Being an architect, I deeply appreciate a well-designed space, and that can range from a cathedral to a living room. I sensed this space immediately and have decorated it, making it my perfect living space. It will never date, and being cradled by the Koppies affords it excellent protection. The angle maximises light and sun and every morning I wake to the sight of the Joburg skyline and the Koppies – what more could I ask for?’

Top Billing house - Stylish bachelor apartment 2
ABOVE LEFT: A collection of Penny Siopis paintings hangs on the wall by the mezzanine level. A bell-sized jar and sculptured hands give texture to an antique table.

A William Kentridge circular painting hangs over the bed, with pale duck-egg-blue linen dressed with an unusual blue-green felt cover. An antique carved mirror is against the slurry plastered walls.

On entering the apartment one is greeted by a sunny dining room grounded with a black slate floor; on the left is a separate kitchen, not integrated, which is typical of the era; on the right, sliding doors open out onto a pool and a terraced garden. Steps lead up to a sitting room, which has a stone-coloured fitted carpet. ‘It’s the original 70s thick-pile carpet,’ says Joe. ‘It has clearly stood the test of time!’ There are big sliding windows with white timber-frame French shutters, as well as a fireplace with symmetrical glass shelves on either side. A cosy, recessed corner with white oversized armchairs and an ottoman provide a tempting spot for Joe to put his feet up and relax.

‘Everything must be comfy,’ he says, explaining his decor choices. ‘It must not only be beautiful to look at, but also enjoyable to sink into.’ Joe has decorated his historic apartment in warm neutrals and there are two ‘wow’ Shaka chairs upholstered in impala skin which pick up the tones of the Koppies, as does the oversized donkey-brown, diamond-buttoned round ottoman. Carpeted steps lead up to the en-suite bedroom on a mezzanine level that overlooks the living room and enjoys a stunning view across the koppies.

Being a tactile person, Joe has mixed his furniture with precision, and has seized the opportunity to surprise by throwing together unexpected combinations. The black PVC vinyl armchair looks great against the grey slate floor, and is juxtaposed by an antique military chest. To his good fortune, Joe has the luxury of changing the look and feel of his space by using pieces from his own interior shops, One on One and Objekt. ‘I buy with myself in mind,’ he says. ‘That’s the criteria – classic, good design.’

Top Billing house - Stylish bachelor apartment 3

ABOVE: A beautiful chandelier hangs over an old refectory table with modern blue moulded dining chairs

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