Grand architecture meets an easygoing lifestyle in this Provencal-style Johannesburg home
The gracious front facade and style of landscaping immediately reveal this Johannesburg home’s French and Belgian influences. The neutral rough stone, muted green shutters, lemon trees and lavender create a captivating first impression
“The tree-lined panhandle avenue leading to this gracious family home sets the tone for what’s to come. ”
Drive through the gates and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d abruptly left Johannesburg. Inside the almost estate-like property, lavender, a row of lemon trees and tailored topiary border an impeccably groomed lawn.
The garden is cued by the architecture: the beautiful manor house is derived from a French Bastide style, a term used to describe grand country manor houses in the south of France. The European-inspired finishes, inside and out, favour natural understated textures and tones. Bagwashed walls, along with oak and sandstone floors, are textural but unobtrusive. The decor, likewise, is understated luxe – neutrals and classic silhouettes with only an occasional touch of colour. Designer Sandra Bowler, who created the property’s interior personality, is known for her eclectic style and global influences.
She carefully chose items to add authenticity to the spaces: chandeliers sourced in Europe, a shelving unit, salvaged from The Hague Library, and her signature use of linen and Middle Eastern textiles such as the rich suzanis she so loves using. Style aside, the owners’ vision for the house was one that would cater to their love of entertaining. Living spaces are conducive to hosting big groups for cosy dinners at the long dining table in winter, casual summer alfresco lunches or games in the wine room. The European influences, combined with the villa-style way of living (albeit on a larger scale), inspired the open-plan layout and understated sophistication.
Easy indoor-outdoor flow, a big kitchen/dining room and fireplaces suggest a sense of joie de vivre. While the interiors are a perfect showcase for the country aesthetic, it’s the outside spaces where you experience its spirit. The pool pavilion leads to the pool and decked lounging area with a braai, fireplace and travertine floors. The boules court, shaded by vines and a herb garden, add to the Gallic charm. This holiday in a house, after all, encapsulates a fantasy – the realisation of a dream home vision and a long-term love affair with France.
The spacious pool pavilion serves as an area for sitting, eating, socialising and sun-lounging in summer; the specially designed and sealed wine room includes glass walls and a vaulted ceiling
The large sitting room – the most formal space in the house – looks out onto the front lawn and includes a cosy fireplace. Sparsely decorated, warm plum and gold accents livening the neutral. The Dutch klompjie bricks in the fireplace are an authentic detail
The basin in the guest cloakroom downstairs has been built into an antique French commode, adding character to the space. The black and white wallpaper with its foliage design is an inspired choice to liven up the small space
The main suite is made up of a bedroom, generous sitting area, bathroom and dressing room. A large four-poster bed takes command of the space and faces out onto the garden; the biscuit-coloured travertine in the en-suite bathroom lends warmth to the luxurious room; twin four posters in the guest room can be moved to accommodate a couple or children; the main bathroom’s tub is an updated version of the classic.
The basin in the guest cloakroom downstairs has been built into an antique French commode, adding character to the space. The black and white wallpaper with its foliage design is an inspired choice to liven up the small space.
Q&A with interior designer Sandra Bowler
WHAT WAS THE FEELING YOU WANTED TO CONVEY?
I wanted to create a sense of laidback elegance, which is inspired by the past but that also embraces modern-day living.
WHICH ROOM SUMS UP THE FAMILY’S LOVE OF ENTERTAINING?
The large beamed kitchen with its oversized table is particularly special. It’s the heart of the house.
HOW DID YOU CREATE A SENSE OF COSINESS?
The wooden floors and natural materials create a distinctive feel that soften the scale of the rooms
“The wooden floors and natural materials create a distinctive feel that soften the scale of the rooms” – Sandra Bowler, Interior Designer
The open-plan kitchen/dining room, designed by Antiques & Heritage, is perfect for big family meals. Traditional ticking stripe, duck-egg blue and pops of red refer to the social joviality of French country living. Most of the antiques and objects in the house refer to the home’s French and Belgian influences.
The long 14-seater dining room table stands next to a raised French fireplace, perfect for long winter lunches. In true French style, the informal space opens onto the kitchen; bookshelves, salvaged from The Hague Library, house special objects and coffee-table books; a grand staircase in the entrance hall leads to the bedrooms and the children’s lounge/study; parallel to the house, the pool features concrete edges and is linked to the solar heating.
FOR SALE: This R48 million property is on the market through Vered (vered.co.za) For more details, phone Megan Long-Innes on 083 556 6030
Credits: Photo: Karl Rogers, Text: Julia Freemantle