WORDS Lynette Botha PHOTOS Paris Brummer
A nondescript fixer-upper in Johannesburg has been transformed into a colourful family home with tons of personality.
After years spent living in rented properties around the world while continent-hopping for work purposes, Wanita Seekins, her husband, Stephen, and their three daughters returned to South Africa six years ago to settle down. Parkwood was not a suburb on their radar at the time. “The lease on our rental was almost up, and we had been looking for a house to buy for a while,” says Wanita. “It was by pure chance that we happened to see an ad for what is now our home, as we weren’t looking in the area. There was something about the property that captivated us, and when we went to view it, it was the jacaranda-lined road and the number of bedrooms [five] that sealed the deal. It was just what we needed as a family, and more particularly for our daughters, each of whom wanted a bedroom of her own.”
While the house ticked many boxes, aesthetically it was lacking – and, as is often the case, what the family initially thought could be fixed cosmetically turned into a full-blown renovation. “Fortunately for us, my mother Astrid van der Heim has been in the building and interior- decorating world for many years, so she led the project,” says Wanita. “Due to our occupation date, it was an intense three months of chopping, building, gutting kitchens and bathrooms, and starting over. We needed to get the ‘bones’ of the house right; the rest we slowly updated and perfected over time.”
There is nothing subdued about the interiors, which are refreshingly bright, bold and quirky. Almost every room in the home has a different colour palette, complemented by furniture and decor in similar or contrasting hues. “Colour has always excited me – and, after 21 years of marriage, Stephen is fully on board, and embraces our lilac bedroom,” Wanita says. “We have moved a lot in our lives, so our decorating has always been somewhat temporary – bargain- hunting to make our rentals feel homely, for example. And paint! Paint has repeatedly been the solution. It’s the easiest and most affordable way to make a place your own, because it will all be painted over once you move on. We feel that there’s so much fun to be had with it.”
While Wanita says she appreciates the aesthetics of minimalistic and neutral interiors, she feels that they are too ‘grown-up’. “We are drawn to colour, and perhaps not ready to embrace the idea of growing up just yet!” Adding further whimsy throughout the home, and layering it with memories, are the family’s trinkets, treasures, keepsakes and memorabilia, from their lives lived in the UK, the US and Asia. “Bargain-hunting is a favourite pastime of mine, as you can see,” says Wanita. “It takes time to inject personality into a home – time, patience and a whole lot of love. For us, the interiors are an ongoing project; one that brings us great joy and gratification as a family.”