Modern Vintage: Parktown Apartment Showcases Owner's Unique Style

Sisters Lucia and Nelisiwe Maseko have combined their unique style in one of Johannesburg’s most sought-after heritage buildings

Graeme Wyllie, Stylist Gemma Bedforth

parktown apartment

Six years ago, Lucia and Nelisiwe Maseko found their gem of an apartment in ‘the middle of nowhere, astone’s throw from Hillbrow, tucked away in this cul-de-sac,’ says Lucia. After having spent a year of Sundays wandering around looking at homes for sale listed in the newspaper, they had almost abandoned their mission.

And then Nelisiwe came across an online listing, and immediately emailed it to Lucia, simply describing it as ‘dope’. They made an appointment to view the apartment and put in an offer on the same day. The rest, as they say, is history – much like their historical home.

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The Home

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According to the Heritage Register, the elegant building, designed by P Rogers Cooke, was built in 1944. Commissioned by Michael Miller, cofounder of OK Bazaars, and his wife Jane Lyndon, Lyndon Hall aimed to ‘[echo]' the sophisticated lifestyle they experienced in New York.The asymmetrical facade reflects the division between very large apartments to the north and much smaller flats on the south side for senior staff or employees,’ explains Lucia.

In the past, the two wings of the building were connected by an interlinking door and a service bell: one wing housed the staff; the other accommodated owners and their guests. The bell, which was located above the stove in the kitchen, summoned staff for service in the main wing. Straddling Hillbrow and Parktown, Lyndon Hall offers two views – in one direction, of the Jacaranda tree-lined avenues of the suburb of Parktown, and in the other, the iconic Hillbrow Tower.

No wonder, then, that the building sports a blue plaque, which denotes ‘special buildings and sites, historic struggles, remarkable personalities and other pieces of history,’ as then-executive mayor Parks Tau wrote in 2013 in a booklet marking the placing of about 120 of these City of Johannesburg heritage plaques across the city.

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The Interior 

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‘My space is my sanctuary,’ says Lucia, explaining that for her, a high ceiling, a space that has soul and lots of room to move are prerequisites. Nelisiwe is not the ‘decorative type’, she says, and just wants her home to be comfortable, so the apartment’s style reflects more of Lucia’s influence. 

Ironically, the day after they moved into the apartment, Lucia had to travel to Switzerland to be based there for six months (she was working for Nestlé at the time) and so her younger sister was left to unpack, unbox, arrange and decorate. Left to her own devices – albeit with Lucia just a WhatsApp or Skype call away – Nelisiwe and their mother (who, unsurprisingly, is also ‘a finder of things’) trawled Johannesburg and its surrounds for fabric and furniture that would make the Lyndon Hall flat a home.

Because of its heritage status, neither the exterior nor the interior structures of this Art Deco-style gem can be changed. So the sisters embraced the historical elements, with the original decor features – such as the iron railings dividing the formal and informal living rooms, the chandeliers, windows, wallpaper and light fittings – all being retained.

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But they did take out the wall-to-wall carpets to expose the rich brown parquet flooring, instantly freshening up the space. Drum-era photography, pop-art pieces and commissioned artworks adorn walls and chairs, multiple vintage finds have found their place in corners of the home, trinkets line mantelpieces and shelves, and old furniture items have been lovingly restored and reupholstered. The apartment is the true definition of an eclectic mix – but for Lucia, energy and symmetry are very important, too .

‘Things need to balance, lines need to meet and couches need to be lined up to doors. If a ghost were to come into the house, it should be able to walk around and get out easily,’ she says with a deep belly laugh. 

To see more of the Maseko's Parktown Apartment scroll through the images below: