NEW HEIGHTS

When cre­ative master­mind Don­ald Nxumalo was tasked with the ren­o­va­tion of an out­dated North­cliff home, his fo­cus on open­ing up the interiors and lay­er­ing them with tac­tile ad­di­tions re­sulted in a lux­u­ri­ously con­tem­po­rary aes­thetic that’s a breath of fresh

Elle Decoration (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - Text NTOMBENHLE SHEZI Pho­to­graphs ELSA YOUNG Pro­duc­tion & styling SANRI PIEN­AAR

In­te­rior de­signer Don­ald Nxumalo trans­formed an out­dated house in North­cliff, Jo­han­nes­burg, into a swish, sump­tu­ous abode that makes the most of its pic­turesque lo­ca­tion

Lo­cated on the sec­ond-high­est ridge in Jo­han­nes­burg, North­cliff is where project man­ager Thabo Tefo found a prop­erty that he knew would be his fam­ily home. Al­though it boasted scenic sur­rounds, the house was in dire need of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, so Tefo en­listed the help of young in­te­rior de­signer Don­ald Nxumalo of the epony­mous stu­dio. ‘It was an old house that was car­peted ev­ery­where, in­clud­ing in the bath­room,’ says Nxumalo, adding that de­spite its flaws, he saw po­ten­tial in the unique space.

The de­signer, who was given an open brief from Tefo, be­gan a large-scale ren­o­va­tion of the three-storey prop­erty, which took just over a year to com­plete. His first step was to open up the interiors, and he started by knock­ing down the walls be­tween the kitchen, din­ing room and lounge to create one large liv­ing area. Next, he made the ex­te­rior ac­ces­si­ble from in­side the home, es­tab­lish­ing a har­mo­nious flow by us­ing clev­erly placed mir­rors to seam­lessly con­nect dif­fer­ent parts of the lay­out. Want­ing to en­hance the height of the rooms, he painted the wooden ceil­ing white and am­pli­fied the vol­ume with sculp­tural light fit­tings: a dra­matic spi­ralling piece com­ple­ments the din­ing ta­ble, while two co­coon-in­spired float­ing bub­bles im­plore you to look up. Dur­ing the day, the rooms are awash with nat­u­ral light and at night, the dif­fer­ent lev­els are il­lu­mi­nated with a soft white glow.

While mod­ernising the space was Nxumalo’s first point of de­par­ture, the sec­ond was lay­er­ing the interiors with sump­tu­ous fab­rics and in­ter­est­ing lines. One of the most no­table at­trac­tions is the asym­met­ri­cal black and white wall­pa­per in the liv­ing area: em­pha­sis­ing the height of the room, it ex­tends all the way up to the ceil­ing, and when con­trasted with mar­ble floors and pat­terned rugs from African Selec­tives, it gives the re­cep­tion room a level of un­der­stated so­phis­ti­ca­tion. ‘What’s nice about clients like Thabo is the trust that they place in me,’ says Nxumalo. ‘Ev­ery­thing is lux­u­ri­ous in the fab­rics, the mir­rors and the wall­pa­per, all of which also have a metal­lic un­der­tone, mak­ing the space both glam­orous and adult, yet still fit­ting for the whole fam­ily.’

On the top level of the home is the main bed­room, which com­prises a sleep­ing area, en-suite bath­room and dress­ing space that boasts neu­tral hues off­set with shim­mer­ing cop­per tones. The bath­room, in par­tic­u­lar, is where Tefo’s affin­ity for stylish in­no­va­tion can’t be missed. De­signed with a lux­u­ri­ous, spa-like aes­thetic, it fea­tures a wooden bench for the shower, which was cre­ated both for com­fort and to bal­ance the op­u­lence of the cus­tom Ver­sace tiles. In an atrium that once housed a Jacuzzi, Nxumalo built an im­pres­sive walk-in closet com­plete with a sky­light.

‘My favourite room is the main bed­room, which also opens to the out­doors and sur­round­ing green­ery,’ says Tefo. ‘Wher­ever you look, whether in­side or out, you see the fo­liage. At the end of a long day, I can re­lax either on the couch in­side or out­side on the bal­cony, and wind down while watch­ing the city lights.’ The gar­den is lush and ever­green, need­ing lit­tle work to main­tain, while the views are breath­tak­ing and the house feels as if it’s moulded it­self into the land­scape. At night, peo­ple driv­ing past have been known to park their cars on the side of the road sim­ply to sit and take in the mag­nif­i­cent sky­line from North­cliff Ridge.

It’s a serenely idyl­lic res­i­dence that doesn’t need os­ten­ta­tion or ex­cess to en­dear it to its owner. ‘The house does not im­pose it­self,’ says Tefo. ‘It just is.’

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