renovation, houses

Renovation: Before & After House #5 George F. Pieterse

A retro duplex in Pretoria has been brought right up to date by its architect homeowner. 

Natasha Dawjee-Laurent, Graeme Wyllie

The 1970s duplex apartment in Pretoria that architect George F. Pieterse bought from his mother consisted of a series of tightly enclosed rooms, which made the home seem cold and dark. So, drawing on his background in high-end residential projects, George (and his brother, who shares the two-bedroom home with him) embarked on a renovation project to transform it into an easy-going space with a much more contemporary feel. 

George had lived in the apartment for almost eight years before tackling the renovation, which, he says, taught him invaluable lessons about what the structure already offered, and what needed to change to suit their lifestyles. He wanted to embrace the architectural elements that made the house special, such as clerestory windows on the second floor, the double-volume area above the staircase, and the generous way that space had been allocated to certain rooms. 



ALSO READ: all the other Before & After House and Room renovation finalists.

‘Often developers just design a house without any knowledge of the end user’s specific needs, so that was what I wanted to avoid for my own renovation,’ George says. ‘I think if you are going to live in a space, you really need to think about it and find the best way to make the house work for your lifestyle.’

The brothers wanted spaces that flowed freely from one to the next and that featured ‘more masculine and contemporary interiors’, George says. To this end, the walls that separated the kitchen and living areas were removed, and furnishings that allow for a more free and flexible plan were introduced. 

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They also did away with the pastel colour scheme, switching to a monochromatic palette. Texture was another key consideration: to make the surfaces of the interiors more rugged and tactile, materials were kept in their raw state – such as exposed steel and some original brickwork, laid bare after the existing plaster was stripped.

‘Something I learnt quite quickly [on this project] is that every decision you make has some sort of monetary or timeline-related impact to it,’ says George. ‘Luckily the guys I had [working on it] were very willing to go the extra mile for me, which makes all the difference.’ The sleek and stylish results of this renovation must definitely make all the stress involved well worth it. 

See more pictures of George F. Pieterse house below:

For all the homeowners’ personally recommended renovation contacts, see the Before & After Black Book.

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