city, houses

a top-floor illovo apartment with impeccable design

Annalize Nel



mid-century modern home Tyrone Arendse in the renovated kitchen of his apartment in Illovo, Joburg. A Sputnik chandelier was refurbished with the help of interior designer Yaniv Chen of Master Studio.

Set back from the hum of traffic and overlooking a canopy of treetops, Tyrone Arendse’s spacious top-floor apartment in Illovo, Joburg, is a medley of understated style, uncomplicated design and functionality. Carefully considered interior decisions ensure that his impressive collection of Mid-Century Modern furniture, light fittings and objets d’art take pride of place and set the tone of this sophisticated and distinctly personal home.

mid-century modern home From a Frances Goodman ceramic installation and vertical Michele Mathison steel sculpture to a rectangular sofa and triangular vintage coffee table, pieces of varying shapes interlock in the living room and are grounded by a striking geometric rug.

The apartment showcases Tyrone’s eclectic character and refined eye. Describing his style as ‘intrinsically personal’, his assortment of vintage and modern pieces is testament to sustained appreciation of beautiful objects. ‘I’m not especially precious about the integrity of one specific design style, and if I like something and it makes sense for me, I’m happy to go with it and try to mix it up,’ he says. ‘If you look at the things that I have in my apartment, there’s nothing from one particular period or with one predominant style. Everything is simply thrown together and if it makes me happy, then that’s what ultimately counts. I’m the one who lives here, so I don’t really care what anybody else thinks.’

mid-century modern home Stacking doors open up the living area to the veranda, resulting in an airy space that’s beautifully accented by minimalist furniture with curved, organic lines.

Tyrone bought the apartment back in 2005 but only started living in it permanently eight years ago. Working as a project delivery specialist for one of the largest local stock exchanges, he travels often, and the lock-up-and-go convenience appealed to him. Having a quiet space to retreat to at the end of the day is important to Tyrone; home for him is a place to relax and take time out away from his fast-paced work life.

mid-century modern home A large mirror helps make the dining room feel larger and draws the eye into the sleek and modern kitchen.

Midway through 2016, he decided to redo the kitchen, which was an all-beige pokey time capsule from the ’80s. Tyrone sought out the help of friend and interior designer Yaniv Chen of Master Studio to oversee the renovation and extend the elegantly functional theme of the rest of the apartment. Yaniv brought a focus to the project, suggesting colour schemes and materials, and acted as a sounding board for Tyrone’s ideas and concepts.

mid-century modern home Blue-and-white tiles from Hadeda are reminiscent of an artwork by MC Escher and give the veranda colour and depth.

The aim was to create a modern, inviting and liveable feel in the kitchen. ‘I didn’t want a showroom,’ Tyrone says. The result is luxurious but unpretentious, with white marble counters offset by cream terrazzo floor tiles that give a nod to the building’s retro aesthetic. A powder-coated steel drinks cabinet adds a masculine element and picks up the blacks of the Sputnik chandelier overhead. Does Tyrone enjoy cooking? ‘I don’t cook at all,’ he says, but this doesn’t preclude his interest in the process of cooking and his considering taking a class to learn a specific kind of cuisine.

mid-century modern home Larger windows allow for natural light to stream into the main bedroom, which features furniture such as a Mid-Century Modern headboard and base from MØdernist.

While the new kitchen is a welcome addition, the defining features of the home are the items in it. The space itself, with its neutral walls in different shades of grey, almost fades away to allow Tyrone’s eye-catching pieces to dominate. Central to the renovation was finding interesting ways to incorporate Tyrone’s collection into the apartment. Here Yaniv proved invaluable – it was his idea to reconfigure three vintage wall lights into a chandelier ceiling fixture for the dining room, a concept similarly echoed in the kitchen – and he created contrast by juxtaposing a glass dining table and sleek vintage steel-and-leather chairs with the warm, rich tones of the parquet running throughout the apartment.

mid-century modern home Walls in varying shades of grey provide a muted backdrop for Tyrone’s objets d’art.

Pervading the space is a feeling of airiness and openness, which is largely due to the clever placement of multiple mirrors and the fact that Tyrone replaced all of the original windows with larger variations. He also installed stacking doors in the living room that open up the entire area to a blue-and-white tiled veranda, with the treetops beyond providing a living, green backdrop.

mid-century modern home The hooped steel piece above the bed is by Joe Paine.

As for all of the Mid-Century Modern furniture in the apartment, it was selected by Tyrone and acquired from auctions over a period of many years with the help of his father, Jerome. This is interspersed with key contemporary pieces from product-designer and artist friends: a number of Dokter and Misses lamps are present throughout the apartment, a ceramic installation by artist Frances Goodman occupies the main living-room wall and a steel piece by sculptor Michele Mathison is a new addition to the living-room ensemble. In the bedrooms, Joe Paine wall-mounted pieces hang above the beds.

The seamless cohesion of modern and contemporary is testament to Tyrone’s nuanced love of good design. Without trying to please anyone but himself, he’s created a home that’s inviting, captivating and very much his own style.