PHOTOS Dook PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes WORDS Nia Magoulianiti-McGregor
Built around a massive oak, this Joburg family home may be impeccably designed and illustriously furnished, but it’s the toddlers who got the long end of the stick and are making the most of it.
Not many three-year-olds can ride their tricycle through the living area of their new house, with a Ridgeback puppy in hot pursuit, without leaving mayhem in their wake.
Jeanne and Paolo Stravino, however, had just that scenario in mind when planning their Hyde Park home: “We wanted an easy, uncomplicated house that Sebastian (three) and Sammy (almost one) could enjoy freely, as well as inside-outside living with no formal spaces, as that’s not how we entertain.”
They also had another non-negotiable: they told architect Joe van Rooyen to centre the house around the huge pin oak tree that stands in the garden. “It’s so gorgeous, we loved the idea of the children being exposed to nature,” says Jeanne, an interior designer and owner of Room 31 Interiors.
So that’s exactly what Joe did, and you can see the tree from almost anywhere in the house – from the entrance hall that displays an artisanal rug from Paco and a print of Vladimir Tretchikoff’s “Chinese Girl”, to the double-volume area upstairs and the indoor patio with its rustic custom-made copper lighting. Everywhere really, except the man-cave Paolo built for their wine collection.
Says Joe: “The whole house – painted mainly in Jeanne’s favourite grey colour, Dusted Moss by Dulux – is designed as a box with shutters on the outside so the house can be ventilated even when secured.” The L-shape also uses the building itself to block out the neighbours in the exclusive gated community, creating extra privacy.
Throughout, the contemporary steel doors were custom-made, though Jeanne’s favourite door is the antique Burmese teak gate, which she found at Private Collections in Cape Town. “It was probably an entrance to a courtyard,” she says.
Upstairs Jeanne wanted something classical and romantic for the main bedroom – “nothing industrial or edgy”. Complementing the engineered oak wood flooring, sleek wooden cupboards were designed and built with plenty of storage space and secret compartments for accessories like hairdryers, ensuring supreme tidiness.
With exposed trusses and colours like bottle green, the kids’ bedrooms raised some eyebrows, says Jeanne: “I didn’t want baby blues or traditional kiddy decor that dated too quickly.” Wallpaper around the dressing areas soften the colours – both boys’ rooms have bathrooms and dressing rooms en suite. Sebastian also has a hide-away space under the bunk bed, with plans for a loft when he’s a bit older.
Coming from a flat, the “space, the luxury, the scale” is what Jeanne loves. “I still feel like we wake up in a hotel every morning. Even after being here for nearly a year, the novelty hasn’t worn off.”
Today, a cloudless Gauteng day, Sebastian is on his tricycle and the leaves are falling from the oak. Just the scenario they planned.