Despite the fact that it was in a sad and derelict state, this house on a winding, jacaranda-lined road in Johannesburg’s Westcliff was considered a precious find by its soon-to-be owners. Built in 1922, there had been virtually no upkeep since, but the couple was taken by its authentic old world charm – something that could not be recreated. They knew, however, that a spacious layout and modern trappings could be achieved through a renovation. Under the supervision of the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust, their heritage character is subject to strict control. Although they were not permitted to alter certain features such as the characteristic red brick walls, they were obliged to clean them up. The process took well over three months and involved reproducing the pointing, a raised mortar effect typical to the construction of that era.
WHAT THEY DID
1. By removing seven internal non-load-bearing walls, a large living and dining area has been established from what was once the home’s entrance, dining room, sitting room and a bedroom extension. The ceiling beams or ‘nibs’, left in place in order to retain the pressed metal ceilings, provide a sense of the home’s original layout. At the centre of the area functioning as a divide is the former sitting room’s fireplace, which has had its red brick facade restored. Carpets removed revealed wooden floorboards, which have been replaced only in certain areas badly affected by damp.
2. A completely new kitchen was built by breaking down the existing kitchen wall and creating an extension of 18m2. Dominated by a long island, the space features an I-beam support that has been purposefully unfinished. It amplifies the modern feel of this area while establishing a contrast with the pressed ceiling in the adjacent space. The former kitchen now functions as an informal living area that leads onto the veranda. What was once a pantry is now a walk-in wine cellar. Both areas are defined by striking black and white terrazzo tiles, a popular flooring finish of the 1920s.
This article was originally featured in the July 2014 issue of House and Leisure.