Shortly after proposing to his wife two years ago, Paul Thatcher dropped another bomb – his family owned a home in Parkhurst, which his grandmother had bought 60 years before, and it was now theirs to renovate. ‘One trip to view it,’ says his wife, Roberta, ‘and we knew this was the perfect spot to start our life together.’
Having never been touched, despite three generations of the family living in it over the decades, it was a typical 1950s face brick box, offering the couple a blank canvas on which to create their dream home. ‘Parkhurst properties are notoriously small, and seeing as we wanted to do a complete overhaul, and maximise our limited space, we knew we needed a great creative team on our side,’ says Roberta. First stop was to contact Joburg firm GASS Architecture Studios. ‘We’ve always been a fan of Georg van Gass’s clean, minimalist style and his practical approach to design.’
Having lived in the house for a year now, the Thatchers have found it interesting to see how Georg’s vision of making the entire space useable has come to life. ‘Our home thrives with people in it,’ says Paul, and depending on how many guests they have over, people tend to gravitate towards different communal areas. ‘In winter we light a fire in the boma, while summer parties tend to take place closer to the pool, until we clear away the coffee table and transform our little lounge into a dance floor.’
‘As a first home, we couldn’t have asked for more,’ adds Roberta. ‘A clever redesign has made it feel expansive and serene, despite its tight lot. While it’s small enough to manage stress-free, it’s now also large enough to constantly fill with friends and family.’
BIG IDEA #1
Paul and Roberta were both heavily involved in the design of the new bathroom. ‘On a business trip to China we stayed in a hotel that had a Japanese tub enclosed in a shower unit, and we thought it was an amazing space-saving device,’ says Paul. As their bathroom is long and thin, the format worked perfectly, allowing for a spacious counter with two basins, and the toilet to fit comfortably alongside. The couple was determined to find the deep, square tub and eventually had to import one, as they are not produced locally. ‘It was so worth it. It’s unbelievably comfortable, especially if, like us, you’re not the tallest kids on the block,’ says Roberta.
BIG IDEA #2
GASS’s intention behind replacing the driveway with a deck and pergola was two-fold – to increase the useable area of the home, and to provide protection from the glaring afternoon sun. A steel structure provides the base for a slatted wooden pergola, which is flanked by a comfortable boma on one side and a splash pool on the other. The deck itself is large enough for a 12-seater table and an entire lounge suite, making for great outdoor entertainment. ‘The design and materials of the deck make it feel like we’re in a beautiful game lodge – since we’ve moved in nowhere feels quite as luxurious as home.’
BIG IDEA #3
The original home had a dark entrance hallway that led to three small rooms, namely the lounge, dining room and kitchen. A major part of the redesign was to make the house feel larger and lighter by doing away with these interior walls and creating one communal area. The Thatchers both love cooking and entertaining, and the kitchen was therefore switched to the centre of the open area, with the dining and living rooms on either side. ‘This way, when one of us is cooking and the other is lounging around, we still feel like we’re together.’
Read all about the HL RenoInnovation competition winners here.