houses, Indoor / Outdoor

Muted Character

Elsa Young


For the owners of this elegant new home in Bryanston, Johannesburg, there is nothing better than being in ‘a space that is beautiful but comfortable and that reflects who you are’. When asked about their decor influences, Craig and Natasha Stone admit that they don’t have ‘a defined style’ but that they do share a ‘strong dislike of colour’, succinctly expressed in the house’s tasteful muted palette of greys, white and taupe.

The couple leapt at the chance to build their own place to live and the journey from concept to completion was far easier than they expected. ‘Instead of the nightmare that we had been warned about, the creative process actually brought us closer together,’ says Craig. A huge advantage of building from scratch was that they could plan the house around their lifestyle and personal tastes, says Natasha, co-founder of online decor store Room Online, who was pregnant with her second son, Sam, when they began the project.

The Stone family make the most of the veranda in their Bryanston, Johannesburg, home. They often eat at the outdoor table from Weylandts (weylandts.co.za) under the Bucket Lights by Pedersen + Lennard (pedersenlennard.co.za) The Stone family make the most of the veranda in their Bryanston, Johannesburg, home. They often eat at the outdoor table from Weylandts under the Bucket Lights by Pedersen + Lennard 

They used the opportunity to incorporate their many notions of a dream home into the compact cluster. The extensive use of white reflects a passion for beach cottages, the natural tones are a tribute to the bush where they spend most of their holidays, exposed brick walls are a wistful reference to New York City loft living and the vast patio is reminiscent of the sprawling farmhouse they one day hope to own.

The mingling of styles works and the result is a space as smooth as their experience of constructing it. This is in no small part thanks to the sparse palette and Craig and Natasha’s extreme tidiness – all the more impressive considering the two boys, Adam, five, and Sam, three, running around. ‘I grew up with a mother who was always in yellow gloves,’ says Natasha. ‘I swore I’d never be the same but the truth is, both Craig and I are more than a little A-type.’

The family has a penchant for local design, as seen in their dining room, which boasts a Weightless Table and Bench by Haldane Martin (haldanemartine.co.za) and Porky Hefer Lites (porky@animal-farm.co.za). The family has a penchant for local design, as seen in their dining room, which boasts a Weightless Table and Bench by Haldane Martin and Porky Hefer Lites.

Tidiness aside, the couple love the fact that theirs is a real family home. ‘The kids can run in from school, dump their bags and run outside to the pool,’ says Natasha, adding that friends often pop in for a quick hello and end up staying for dinner. ‘I love the indoor-outdoor flow of the home and the fact that no matter where you are in the house, you all feel connected to each other.’

The rooms of their house may be muted but Craig and Natasha’s collections of objets are anything but. With a passion for decor and a business dedicated to local design, it’s not surprising that Natasha has styled their home to perfection. ‘I’ve devoured design magazines since I was a little girl,’ she enthuses. ‘I’m obsessed with making things look nice.’

‘Every item in our house has a story,’ she adds, explaining that many items in the house were gifts passed down from family. ‘I am terribly sentimental so I have furniture and items that I have been collecting for years, especially books. I love how they look and smell and the feeling they give to a room,’ she says. Luckily it’s a shared passion and, although their taste in books differs, Craig is as avid a collector. ‘I am in love with words,’ he says. ‘Every book holds the promise of some escape or adventure or some new piece of knowledge.’ Craig also has a passion for art, which Natasha has gladly adopted. ‘We’re running out of wall space. It’s a problem – an expensive one.’

A Tonic (tonicdesign.co.za) chair and a side table designed by Jayne Wunder (jaynewunder.com) sit beneath artworks by Mia Widlake (miawidlake.com) A Tonic chair and a side table designed by Jayne Wunder  sit beneath artworks by Mia Widlake 

The Stones’ penchant for collecting is finely balanced by a dislike of clutter. ‘I can’t stand thoughtless collections of things,’ says Craig, and Natasha adds that stylistically they make displays work by starting with a neutral base, and adding choice pieces and beautifully crafted or meaningful items.

‘It’s been great to add richness to the space we’ve created slowly through art and furniture,’ says Craig. ‘For us, our home is a bit of an unfinished project. The minute it feels complete, I think we may want to start again somewhere else.’

Originally published in HL May 2013.

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