rules of en­gage­ment

Dec­o­ra­tor David Carr and ar­chi­tect Peter Co­hen’s guide to how they max­imised the po­ten­tial of ev­ery room in this Jo’burg home


Cre­ate har­mony

‘Though the steel beams were a struc­tural re­quire­ment, we de­cided to turn them into a dec­o­ra­tive el­e­ment by leav­ing them ex­posed,’ says ar­chi­tect Peter Co­hen. By do­ing this he ef­fec­tively uni­fied the space by re­peat­ing the in­dus­trial lin­ear­ity of the win­dows and doors as well as the steel pil­lars that run down the ex­te­rior walk­ways.

Don’t fudge the floor­ing

only two floor­ing ma­te­ri­als were used through­out the house: tim­ber (in the bed­rooms and liv­ing ar­eas) and con­crete (in the kitchen and bath­rooms, as well as the ex­te­rior). ‘This was the per­fect way to marry the warmth that the client re­quired with a more con­tem­po­rary in­dus­trial feel,’ ex­plains Peter. ‘This in turn meant that mod­ern fur­ni­ture pieces and an­tiques alike sit com­fort­able in the space.’

Blur the in­door/out­door di­vide

Peter has cre­ated a clever ar­chi­tec­tural di­a­logue be­tween in­door and out­door spa­ces that dis­tin­guishes their in­di­vid­ual iden­ti­ties while at the same time meld­ing them into one space. ‘ex­posed brick­work is a defin­ing qual­ity of the ex­te­rior, though it is re­peated in­ter­nally to en­hance a sense of open­ness,’ he says. ‘The slen­der pro­por­tions of the steel columns, how­ever, al­low for the least amount of vis­ual ob­struc­tion whilst let­ting the most light into the in­te­ri­ors.’

Take chances with decor

‘The main liv­ing area was in­formed by the clients’ col­lec­tion of fine art,’ says dec­o­ra­tor david Carr, who cham­pi­oned a mas­sive gil­lian ayres by hang­ing it above the fire­place while also giv­ing pride of place to eileen gray works, too. Tra­di­tional pieces were also given an up­date; a mid-cen­tury chaise was reimag­ined in sun­shine yel­low while an heir­loom cof­fee ta­ble was paired with mod­ern Per­spex pieces. ‘de­spite break­ing all the “rules”, th­ese el­e­ments work in cre­at­ing an ef­fort­lessly lived-in and un­dec­o­rated look,’ says david.

De­sign with his­tory in mind

Both Peter and david drew on the ar­chi­tec­tural ver­nac­u­lar of the highveld in their de­sign of the home, giv­ing it a sense of be­long­ing within its sur­round­ings. ‘steel was crit­i­cal to the de­sign be­cause it re­calls the old in­dus­trial build­ings of Jo’burg,’ ex­plains Peter. ‘In th­ese mod­ern pro­por­tions it max­imises both space and light.’

Let fur­ni­ture pieces guide you

‘The kitchen was de­signed around two large French an­tique cup­boards that were sourced be­fore the first plans were even drawn up,’ says david. ‘The light­ing, faux-rusted wall tiles, even the door pro­por­tions, are in­formed by th­ese cup­boards.’

Cre­ate spa­ces that trans­port

david and Peter de­cided to make ‘a lit­tle piece of ru­ral France in the mid­dle of bustling sand­ton’. This was achieved by cre­at­ing a potager us­ing an as­sort­ment of found ob­jects while the ex­posed brick wall gives the space a sense of per­ma­nence.

Ex­per­i­ment with ceil­ing lev­els

‘dif­fer­ent vol­umes cre­ate a vari­able ex­pe­ri­ence in the home,’ says Peter. he achieved this by leav­ing the roof trusses ex­posed in the lounge and play­room. he also painted them a sim­i­lar tone to the floor­ing, ef­fec­tively mak­ing them a dec­o­ra­tive fea­ture.

Func­tion can be per­sonal

‘Much like the kitchen, the bath­rooms are more than just func­tional spa­ces,’ says Peter. david agrees, ‘this is as much a space for bathing as it is re­lax­ing with a cup of tea.’ here, walls were given a sim­i­lar ce­ment treat­ment as the floors to cre­ate warmth, while vel­vet up­hol­stery breaks any aus­ter­ity.

Go bold with fab­ric and pat­tern

‘The main be­d­room en­joys a colour­ful mix of pat­tern and tex­ture,’ says david. From damasks to chunky linen, they work to­gether to cre­ate a sense of unity. ‘It came to­gether per­fectly.’ Louis David Art n & De­sign % 011 483 0628; Peter Co­hen Ar­chi­tect % 083 267 7200

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