REN­O­VA­TION #3

House and Leisure Before and After - - RENOVATION #3 - TEXT BOB TRUDA STYLING LEANA SCHOE­MAN PHO­TO­GRAPHS ELSA YOUNG

A NEWLY MAR­RIED COU­PLE GIVE A THIRD-GEN­ER­A­TION HOME IN PARKHURST, JOBURG, A SE­RI­OUS FACE-LIFT

Shortly af­ter propos­ing to his then-girl­friend two years ago, Paul Thatcher sur­prised her with another propo­si­tion – his fam­ily owned a home in Parkhurst, which his grand­mother had bought 60 years be­fore, and it was now theirs to ren­o­vate. ‘One trip to view it,’ says his wife, Roberta, ‘and we knew this was the per­fect spot to start our life to­gether.’

De­spite three gen­er­a­tions of the fam­ily hav­ing lived in the house over the decades, it had never been al­tered and was a typ­i­cal 1950s face­brick box, of­fer­ing the cou­ple a blank can­vas on which to cre­ate their dream home. ‘Parkhurst prop­er­ties are no­to­ri­ously small, and see­ing as we wanted to do a com­plete over­haul, and max­imise our lim­ited space, we knew we needed a great cre­ative team on our side,’ says Roberta. First step was to con­tact Joburg firm Gass Ar­chi­tec­ture Stu­dios. ‘We’ve al­ways been fans of Ge­org van Gass’ clean, min­i­mal­ist style and his prac­ti­cal ap­proach to de­sign.’

The cou­ple’s con­cerns about a lack of space were quickly eased by the ar­chi­tect, who has a pet hate for ‘large, sprawl­ing houses where most of the prop­erty is never used’. With this in mind, Ge­org and his as­so­ciate CJ Eisen­stein, re­designed the en­tire prop­erty,

re­think­ing the gar­den and out­door ar­eas to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful yet prac­ti­cal home where ev­ery square me­tre would be­come a de­sir­able place to spend time.

The big­gest change was to ditch the drive­way that ran along the western side of the prop­erty, and con­vert it into a wooden deck and per­gola, with a splash pool on one end and a boma on the other. This added 70m2 of en­ter­tain­ment area to the home – pretty im­pres­sive, con­sid­er­ing the whole house was only 120m2 to be­gin with. The ex­te­rior walls of the liv­ing area were then bashed out and re­placed with glass slid­ing doors that bring the out­doors in.

The in­te­rior walls of the com­mu­nal area were next to go, cre­at­ing one large, open-plan liv­ing space that ex­tends the full length of the house. Rather than three boxy spa­ces, the liv­ing room, kitchen and din­ing room now form one breezy, light-flooded area.

The orig­i­nal house had only one bath­room, so the cou­ple added an en suite to the main bed­room, steal­ing space by do­ing away with the hardly-used orig­i­nal en­trance cor­ri­dor. The re­sult is a roomy bed­room suite, com­plete with a bal­cony that’s fast be­come a favourite spot to lounge around on week­ends.

Fur­nish­ing the house was the next chal­lenge. ‘Both of us had lived solo for years and be­come very set in our ways (and styles),’ says Roberta. ‘As the cu­ra­tor of a de­sign fair [San­lam Hand­made Con­tem­po­rary Fair] I’m ob­sessed with aes­thet­ics, while for Paul it’s com­fort above all.’ The cou­ple found an easy mid­dle ground, with neu­tral tones dom­i­nat­ing amid the oc­ca­sional pop of colour. ‘Any relics from our old lives not ap­pre­ci­ated by the other were sub­tly ban­ished to the guest bed­room or Paul’s newly ap­pointed man cave.’

Hav­ing lived in the house for a year now, the Thatch­ers have found it in­ter­est­ing to see how Ge­org’s vi­sion of mak­ing the en­tire space use­able has come to life. ‘Our home thrives with peo­ple in it,’ says Paul. ‘In win­ter we light a fire in the boma, while sum­mer par­ties tend to take place closer to the pool, un­til we clear away the cof­fee ta­ble and trans­form our lit­tle lounge into a dance floor.’

‘As a first home, we couldn’t have asked for more,’ adds Roberta. ‘A clever re­design has made it feel ex­pan­sive and serene, de­spite its tight lot. While it’s small enough to man­age stress-free, it’s now also large enough to con­stantly fill with friends and fam­ily.’ Find the spe­cial­ists’ de­tails in the HL Black Book (page 94)

Paul and Roberta Thatcher’s home in Parkhurst, Joburg, was trans­formed by adding a wooden deck, per­gola (right) and boma, de­signed by Gass Ar­chi­tec­ture Studios and built by Vi­sion 5.

BE­FORE

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