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
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