Urban Farmhouse – September 2008

Contemporary Africa, eclectic French and Colonial chic are all wrapped up in this renovated home in Craighall, Johannesburg

A well established feel greets you when you arrive at this newly completed house – probably abetted by homely scenes such as chickens scratching in the yard, peacocks elegantly perched on the roof and dogs barking.

The house is on a larger than normal stand and was initially bought by Dave and Gail Hamilton-Brown as an investment for a proposed development. But, as it turned out, the need for a bigger home and place from which to run Dave’s construction business, made it the perfect house to renovate. The renovations were extensive. The house needed to be opened up to create an easier flow. Also on the list was a large veranda, a main bedroom with bathroom, an office and double garages. Beyond this, the house was also in need of a more contemporary makeover.

The couple had set ideas as to what they wanted to achieve but with the helpful input from friend and decorator, Astrid van der Heim, the plans were drawn up and the renovations begun. The result is a stylish, updated version of the previous home. It now has an expansive front veranda, a spacious main bedroom wing and easy open-plan living spaces, with the kitchen at the heart. The original suspended glass sunroom was retained. “It’s perfect for viewing sunsets or admiring the tree tops and it’s a cosy sun trap in the winter,” says Gail. Downstairs there is an office and double garaging. All of this is surrounded by a beautiful indigenous garden.

Dave and Gail’s home was cleverly and tastefully decorated with the collected and inherited furniture and artifacts that give it a unique style. A recent relationship with decorator Andrew Mackenzie brought new schemes into parts of the home.

“At first glance it was clear this was going to be an interesting project, with the particular melting pot of styles, snug in its farm-like setting,” comments Andrew. “I felt important to keep the authenticity of the original mood and not allow it to become over styled and produced. On getting to know Dave and Gail and their particular needs, I realised that what they required was a comfortable, relaxed yet gently stylish look.”

He continues: “Like many people who decide to decorate or redo their personal spaces, Gail felt it may be an idea to throw out some of the bits and pieces acquired and inherited along the way. Having gone through the mentioned items, and probably being a bit of a hoarder myself, I felt the decision was to rather re-use and give new life to existing items. A new and interesting fabric can do miracles and by simply paying respect to scale and proportion, shifting and changing objects and furniture around can immediately give a space a new and interesting feel.

“I used neutral schemes throughout the house, except for the kitchen where I introduced green tones, allowing for freshness, and bringing in the greenery of the garden. For the floor finish I used, loose-fitting sisal rugs – once again, in neutral tones. Floor finishes are important and sisal is a quick and inexpensive trick in helping to bring a room together.”

Andrew also points out that: “I used American shutters which stacked away, allow the house to become one with the garden. The shutters give a gentle, colonial touch, at the same time lending a clean modern feel.”

Andrew concludes with this important tip: “Don’t be too quick to throw things out. Play, experiment with what you have – who knows…?

In South African Garden and Home by Andrew / 23 August 2012 /

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