How do interior designers really live? Forget the curated penthouse apartments of Instagram. If you’re Andrea Kleinloog, partner at Anatomy Design and HK Studio in Joburg, home is with her husband Luke, daughter Beatrix and dogs Meisiekind and Ron Swanson in the heart of suburbia.
Add a lot of friends and family coming and going, kids’ toys and a trampoline, and you’ve got the real thing: stylish living, firmly rooted in reality.
SARAH: You guys are really adulting hard!
ANDREA: We’re so adult! (laughs)
With apologies to Talking Heads, do you wake up in the morning and think, ‘Wait! This is not my beautiful house’?
Seriously, I still don’t feel like it’s my house.
What was the reason for the move to it last year?
We wanted to buy something that we didn’t have to do anything to, because we valued our marriage more than we valued any possible need for a nightmarish renovations project.
So you just moved in?
Pretty much. The house’s previous owners had done everything already. I suppose if I had to build my own, it probably wouldn’t look like this but it’s still an awesome home. I didn’t have to do any of it. All the walls were beige, so I just whitened up the whole thing and painted the kitchen navy.
The space immediately strikes me as lived in.
We can’t afford to be contrived. We’ve got a toddler who’s going to destroy anything that’s too curated. We’ve even got the kids’ table in the middle of the house.
Well, it is a nice kids’ table – it was never going to be ugly with you involved. Although I remember you quite vividly in a terrible pink ombré jersey at university.
I thought that was such a fashion statement!
I’ve known you and Luke since you were both 18, when you had just met at university. How did your aesthetic change from pink ombré to this sophisticated house?
I think about this often. Remember, I had no thought of going into interior design – I didn’t even know what it was. I was an economics major. I believe a very big part of my aesthetic is accepting that sometimes things aren’t perfect. I don’t need a perfectly styled bedside table. The photos might make it look like that, but it isn’t the case. I don’t have fresh-cut flowers in the house every day. And I don’t just have one style – there are multiple versions of it.
But is there one thing that underpins your aesthetic?
You and Luke started out in an apartment and then lived in a smaller house up the road. How has your way of living changed over the years?
Mess-management. Beatrix has had to fit into our aesthetic, and I don’t always win but I’m not going to be hard on myself about that. There are going to be ugly plastic things around, but that’s OK.
So basically, don’t stress about it?
Kids’ stuff is ugly and plastic – you can’t only have those perfect Scandinavian timber toys. And you can see a child’s influence in this house. Bea’s little table is smack bang in the middle of our living room and when it’s dinnertime, that’s where we all eat. It’s a hysterical sight, with everyone’s knees up around their ears, even grandpa, who is 1.95m tall.
Have you been entertaining a lot since you moved in?
Every Thursday we have a Shabbat of sorts. That’s a standing invite. Friends, family – they come every week.
Have you seen the new design series on Netflix? It’s called Abstract: The Art of Design, and there’s one about British designer Ilse Crawford.
I hugged her at Design Indaba 2010! My claim to fame. (laughs)
There’s something about her work – the simplicity, warmth and tactility of it – that reminds me of your space. And it doesn’t feel decorated.
Well, I’m certainly not brave or doing a red feature wall. When someone mentions feature walls, I turn into the emoji with the ugly, sad face.
Funny that, I was about to ask if you’d come over to my house – I really want a feature wall.
I think you’ve got the wrong designer! Some people are great at that stuff, but I’m just not that person. I’m practical. Case in point, we got blue chairs because the kitchen went navy. But we’ve been collecting stuff for years. Luke comes from a family of orthodontists and dentists, and some of our chairs are from the practice’s old waiting room. I always think, imagine sitting on this really hard chair, waiting to have your teeth extracted without anaesthetic.
That sounds very Margaret Atwood – severe and puritanical.
Yes, but there is something amusing about knowing that whoever is at the head of the table has to sit on them. Again, we don’t have them here because I thought, ‘We need a feature chair’ – they’re part of our family history.