Architect Antonio Zaninovic’s retro revival of this Constantia home is a masterclass in mid-century modern
Let’s do this a bit differently and start with: what’s the takeaway with this house?
So this house is on a large plot in Constantia but it doesn’t have particularly strong views. Rather, it’s about the greenery, the large garden and the beautiful trees. There was already an existing structure that had undergone several renovations so it had this weird mix of mid-century and modern styles. The idea was to return it to its midcentury origin while also adding to it
an entrance foyer and music room. These new areas really informed the overall architecture.
Music rooms aren’t all that common, what are the technicalities behind designing that?
The homeowners are avid collectors, and players, of old records so the room really was a key feature to them. But this meant that there had to be sound insulation, which ended up becoming a major design focal point in the form of a timber ceiling.
‘this was a premeditated transformation based on the style of the house and that of the client’
Why the decision to go backwards rather than forwards in terms of architectural style?
Because the house had bones that spoke more to mid-century design, such as the sloped roof, and that oldschool feeling really resonated with it. and, of course, it happened to work perfectly with the style, and music taste, of the homeowners.
And the prolific use of natural materials, the abundance of wood and stone, was that already present?
That was actually part of the renovation. none of these natural
materials were here to begin with and we decided to incorporate the walnut floors, the timber ceilings in the foyer and music room and, in the kitchen, terrazzo floors that really championed the mid-century style. What would you say was key to the success of this project?
The house was overly compartmentalized, there was no flow. so what we did was basically remove walls to create an open plan between the living areas with enough privacy and partitioning to stop it looking like a warehouse.
How does the refreshed blueprint play out now?
The public rooms occupy one level, which you enter from the driveway. From the foyer, with its massive skylight, you immediately arrive at the music room and the homeowners’ extensive record collection. From here you’re taken into the lounge-kitchen area, then the TV room and finally the terrace and pool. The bedrooms are contained in a very classic, simple, two-storey building that’s semi-attached to this single-storey element, like an anchor, at the back of the property.
‘We adapted the architecture to go with the interiors’
It’d be remiss of me if I didn’t ask you about that concrete Cubist feature on the exterior entrance wall.
That’s a sculptural mural by Lorenzo nassimbeni that proved to be the solution to a real challenge that we faced: how to create an entrance that’s interesting and at the same time calm. There was a window that was necessary to give light to a mudroom that is next to the garage that had all the practicalities but, because it’s the entrance, we needed to make it special. Lorenzo’s work then leads you to the main entrance. You really bring this idea to the kitchen island, too.
Yes, it’s also a concrete 3d object.
These two things really show how you can link parts of the house with consistent elements. It’s the house’s signature.
The last time we spoke you said you didn’t find it necessary for there to be a direct cohesion between architecture and decor, yet in this house that’s exactly the case.
Totally, and not necessarily typical of my work, this was a premeditated transformation based on the style of the house and that of the client, which was primarily mid-century. You could say that we adapted the architecture to go with the interiors.
brno’ chairs by mies van der rohe for knoll surround the dining room table. the drawing is by patrick caulfield and the rattan chairs are vintage arthur umanoff
left, from top
the sleek kitchen island was designed by antonio zaninovic; the leather sofas in the lounge are from jo carlin. vintage ceramics, lighting and art complete the space
clockwise, from top left
a bed by jo carlin, tom dixon lights and hungry lion 8 by cameron platter in the main bedroom; the homeowners are passionate about music and have a designated room filled With vinyls and the artwork from some of their favourite albums; a custom sculpture by lorenzo nassimbeni adds interest to the entrance of the house