B R E A K I NG BOUNDA R I E S

By treat­ing the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior as one en­tity, this Jo­han­nes­burg cou­ple have­max­imised space in their com­pact bun­ga­lowand cre­ated a home that­makes the­most of the Southafrican­weather

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Sourcebook | Plants -

This stylish and pe­tite 225-square-me­tre 1950s bun­ga­low in Parkhurst, Jo­han­nes­burg, be­longs to land­scape and fur­ni­ture de­signer Christo Ver­meulen and his part­ner, ur­ban de­signer Nico Ven­ter. Parkhurst is close to the city cen­tre and ad­ja­cent to a large park that runs along a small river. Shops, res­tau­rants and cafés line its pretty main street. ‘It’s a great place to live,’ saysnico. ‘It has a friendly vil­lage feel; you know your neigh­bours.’

The cou­ple bought the house in 2012. It was, Christo says, ‘a com­plete dump,’ but they spent two years liv­ing there be­fore un­der­tak­ing the ren­o­va­tion. ‘ We wanted to get a feel for the house, its na­ture, po­si­tion­ing and se­cret spa­ces be­fore em­bark­ing on the work,’ says Christo. The project opened up the for­merly dark room­stocre­ateanopen, light-filled­home­thatem­braces­thes­ur­round­ing­gar­dens.

To­day, the in­te­rior is sim­ple and con­tem­po­rary. A con­crete floor ex­tends al­most the en­tire length of the house: it feels silky and sur­pris­ingly warm un­der­foot. White walls am­plify the nat­u­ral light and the largely mono­chrome scheme is soft­ened by brass, aged wood and leather. Plants can be found ev­ery­where: trail­ing from a kitchen shelf and bloom­ing on the din­ing ta­ble.

The home is com­pact but feels larger, in the main thanks to Christo and Nico’s re­fusal to limit liv­ing spa­ces to the in­side of the house. ‘Our ap­proach was not to de­sign a house and then de­sign a gar­den. We viewed the en­tire prop­erty as our home and di­vided it into in­te­rior and ex­te­rior rooms,’ says Nico. ‘Blur­ring the lines be­tween in­side and out in this way al­lowed us to stretch the space and cre­ate the il­lu­sion of hav­ing more rooms.’ Out­side there are six court­yards, and each has a par­tic­u­lar time of day that suits it best. One to the east is de­signed for shade in the af­ter­noon, when the sum­mer sun is at its hottest. There’s an out­door shower at the back of the house that’s per­fect for a late-night soak un­der the stars, and the scented herb gar­den is the cou­ple’s pre­ferred place for med­i­ta­tion or a morn­ing cof­fee. But the fire pit in the front gar­den is their favourite spot. ‘ We sit there and have a glass of wine when­ever friends come to visit,’ says Nico. ‘ We have pri­vacy but there’s still a con­nec­tion to the bus­tle of the street. It’s like our own pri­vate café!’ musec­on­tracts.co.za

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