Five years ago, a couple found a treasure in old Johannesburg, with the convenience of being close to the city they loved, while nestled in the slow, quiet, tranquility of suburbia All they had to do is make it their own. MR SIPHIWE MPYE paid a visit.
After living in the concrete sprawl of the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg for most of their working lives, Mr Ciko and Ms. Kholisa Thomas – both originally from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape – were compelled, five years ago, to move closer to their cultural obsessions. “We have always loved the city,” says Ms. Thomas, an Art Dealer, “we both love Art and Ciko is into his Jazz.” In the city of gold, the predominant cultural spaces serving these tastes are in and around the city. Leafy, quiet and typically old Johannesburg, Park town West – where the couple now live – is a five-minute drive from the complex, gentrified ambiguity of Braamfontein – home to not only notorious (or glorious, provided you are on the right side of 30) student haunts, designer fast food joints and cafes frequented by those previously known as hipsters – but also at least three galleries, a premier Jazz venue, a record shop and two theatres.
Just a short hop across the Mandela Bridge into Newtown and the Market Theatre, Museum Africa, the endangered Niki’s Oasis and the enduring Bassline are at your disposal. Stage productions, world-class exhibitions and live music, right on their doorstep. For culture hounds, it doesn’t get better.
So, seduced by the nearby city and the impeccably maintained, Heritage Society listed Art Deco home’s exquisite original features – from the parquet floors and chandeliers, to the generous grounds and quaint art decor tiles in the bathrooms – they submitted an offer. The previous owners were a filmmaker and musician, and on the day the Thomases viewed the house, the musician was tinkering gently on the piano. When they put in their offer, it included the Hoffman & Kuhne Baby Grand piano, which their son Hlumi now plays.
In dreaming up the interior design, they consulted with decorator Ms. Kim Lowenstein , who shared their vision of a relaxed, pared back, but grown up space. Numerous pieces are from La Grange, with a contemporary African, tonal feel, with lots of natural materials. Yellow is an anchor colour throughout the house, present in some of the art, accessories and most prominently in the custom-made, wildlife-inspired fabric on chairs in the second (or fireplace) lounge by Design Team.
“Seduced by the nearby city and the impeccably maintained, Heritage Society listed Art Deco home’s exquisite original features – from the parquet floors and chandeliers, to the generous grounds and quaint art decor tiles in the bathrooms – they submitted an offer.”