Another Country: Tranquil Equestrian Estate in KZN
Classic yet contemporary minimalist but welcoming, high in style, yet at the same time homely – this was the brief to architect Joy Brasler and Douglas and Douglas interior designer Wendy-Lee Douglas. The owners’ wish for this house in Summerveld, outside Durban, was for it to capture the essence of modern farmhouse living: ‘We are surrounded by open space and countryside [here],’ they explain, and wanted to ‘have the feeling of being in the Midlands but close to the city’.
‘They envisaged a lifestyle that could accommodate horses and their collection of cars, gardening, guests and a generous, warm and busy social life,’ says Brasler. So she reconfigured the layout of the property to allow for a dam, a tree- lined avenue and views across the paddocks. The home itself was designed to be bright and airy. ‘The outdoor living areas are located on the northern side and various protrusions were introduced to allow insertions of light and greened courtyards,’ she adds. Large verandas shade the predominantly east and west facades and are favourite spots for the family to unwind.
Douglas worked closely alongside Brasler from the start, planning the interior design to work in synergy with the architecture. ‘Our focus was to make the “bones” of the interior classic in look and feel,’ she says. ‘Wall panelling and oak herringbone floors were chosen for their timeless appeal, and to this base, we added furniture and collectible design pieces from various South African designers to inject the contemporary style.’
The colour palette follows a similar formula: a neutral base of grey and white is enlivened with pops of bold black and vibrant colour, with metallic accents adding a luxe feel. Chairs, light fittings, rugs and tables draw the eye throughout the home while traditional works of art, in the form of paintings and sculptures (often with an equestrian theme) add unique personality. ‘Some pieces were existing, but most were commissioned from talented artist Kim Longhurst,’ says Douglas. ‘We worked closely with her to create the perfect pieces.’
Texture and pattern add depth and interest throughout the space, often in unexpected places. ‘We like to use bold pattern in areas where you don’t spend a lot of time so that it doesn’t become overwhelming,’ explains Douglas. ‘The entrance- hall floors are striking and make a great impact in the scale of the space, while the wallpaper in the guest toilet adds a great injection of pattern. Both are areas you would only pass through momentarily.’
The family spends more than moments in the open-plan kitchen and living room – here the aim of the design was to make the kitchen blend into the space by designing the cabinetry to look like the wall panelling that runs throughout the home, and integrating appliances and hidden handle details to create a seamless look. ‘The marble- clad island is the showstopper piece of the space,’ says Douglas. ‘It is designed in a U-shape, similar to a sushi bar, to create interaction between the cook and the guests.’
Despite these sophisticated details, the owners wanted the house to be a welcoming home and Brasler and Douglas focused on the owners’ lifestyle while designing each area. Landscape designer Lee Schriener of Lee’s Supascapes then added the final touch by ensuring a feeling of seamless flow from the garden to the house.
The result is a property that the owners truly enjoy. ‘Sundays are family days,’ they say. ‘We cook a late breakfast together, spend time around the pool soaking up the sun and take late afternoon naps and walks around the property.’
To view more images of the house look through the gallery below.
Furnishings with architectural sensibilities enhance the formal feel of the panels in the dining room, while a set of round mirrors provide a curvaceous contrast. The table was refinished in black and paired with chairs from La Grange (lagrangeinteriors.co.za), which perfectly complement the herringbone timber flooring from Kaizer Floors (kaizerfloors.co.za).
Glassware, coral and crystal come together in a noteworthy display on top of the server by Tonic Design (tonicdesign.co.za). The table lamp is from Egg Designs, and the mirror from Douglas and Douglas (douglasanddouglas.co.za) echoes the shapes of the light fixtures above.
teel Inc created the cut-out white metal screen that delineates the living area from the passage, where wall panelling elicits a gallery-like effect to showcase artworks by Kim Longhurst (thecurators.co.za).
Presided over by striking Wireflow pendant lamps by Vibia from Streamlight (streamlight.co.za), the sophisticated and contemporary kitchen area sports a monochrome palette that is anchored by a large marble island.
On the patio, touches of amber in glassware from La Grange are warm and inviting, and the striped sofa from Douglas & Douglas, as well as carefully selected rug and scatters, add pattern, texture and depth.
Although style was high on the agenda, the family particularly wanted a house that felt like a home – and which included a number of convivial zones for unwinding. Seating in this space comprises a leather bench from Douglas & Douglas and a couple of wicker chairs from Cane Time (canetime.com), with a molecule lamp from Hoi P’loy (hoiploy.com) suspended above.
Kim Longhurst created custom artworks – such as these equestrian-inspired paintings in the study – that provided the starting point for much of the decor. The desk is custom made and pops of colour are incorporated in a pair of chairs covered in Harlequin fabric from Black Fabrics (blackfabrics.co.za)
In the bathroom, a countertop sink and tap from Classic Trading (classictrading.net) create a sleek, modern look when paired with finishes in black and brass
The bar on the patio – by Steel Inc – was ‘a complete labour of love and took many man hours to create,’ says Douglas. ‘It’s made of pure brass, faceted with an antique patina finish. We had to use a special rigging truck to deliver it to the site. The illuminated marine fish tank behind it complements the design perfectly.