Renovated Parkhurst Home

PHOTOS Dook PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes WORDS Katharyn Williams-Jaftha

This design couple’s renovated Joburg home is the ultimate blend of contemporary design, clever alcoves and earthy textures.

It took four years, about 95 brainstorming sessions and countless bottles of vino to turn what this design couple termed “the ugly duckling of Parkhurst” into the suburban gem it is today.

Situated in one of Johannesburg’s most sought-after neighbourhoods and just metres from bustling Fourth Avenue, the house has undergone a transformation since Christo Vermeulen and Nico Venter took occupation in December 2011.

The pair, who met 13 years ago on a blind date on Valentine’s Day, credit their backgrounds, Christo’s in textile design and Nico’s in urban design, to the rebirth of their abode – a space they describe as “simple and beautiful, yet stylish and different”.

Christo says they had been coveting the area for years because they wanted the freedom of living in a village like Parkhurst, but it had always been just out of their financial reach.

“When we found this place, the estate agent told us she didn’t think she’d ever be able to sell it because of the condition the house was in. It needed a lot of love and attention. We decided we would take up the challenge.”

It wasn’t long before they packed up and relocated from Westdene, near Melville.

“We spent four years planning, plotting and saving to come up with what we have today. You design and redesign, and then you redesign again,” says Nico, who was responsible for the planning and architectural details.

Christo, who has worked in construction with his father, took on the role of builder. He says they were careful about preserving the original feel and shape of the house. “We wanted to be sensitive to the area and maintain the feeling of living in Parkhurst.”

The duo based the main features of their home on four elements: concrete, steel, glass and wood. Major operations involved creating a garden, removing the front rooms to create an open-plan kitchen and living space, adding an en suite bathroom to the master bedroom, modernising the doors and windows, and adding the carefully thought-out finishes.

The finished product is an immaculately conceived two-bedroomed house filled with contrasting textures – about which Christo is passionate. “We wanted to create the feeling of a contemporary yet warm industrial space, so we mixed and matched rough brick walls with smooth finishes, and corrugated iron cladding around the house with contrasting concrete.”

When asked to choose their favourite part of the house, it’s a toss-up between the kitchen and the modest backyard. “The ‘fire tower’ in the backyard feels like the most comfortable part of the house. I love being out there with friends – it feels like we’re on a farm,” says Christo.

Nico agrees that the area is great for relaxing, but prefers the kitchen. “We always seem to gather around our kitchen table. I particularly like the fact that it’s the centre of our entertainment space and connects everything and everyone.”