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Renovator's dream

Renovator's dream

The main en-suite bedroom opens up onto the outside deck.

For architect Korina Holley and her husband and child, a renovated Parkhurst home is the gift that keeps on giving.

It took Korina Holley and her husband, Jamie, a year to find their home in the tree-lined suburb of Parkhurst. As an architect, Korina knew that finding a Parkhurst ‘golden-oldie’ to renovate according to their needs and tastes would add impetus to her burgeoning career as an independent architect. ‘After extensive travelling and a work stint in Ireland, Jamie and I returned to Johannesburg. It was always meant to be temporary,’ explains Korina, ‘but we both started jobs that we loved – he at an accounting firm and me at Paragon Architects. Six years later and we’re still here!’

Parkhurst Renovation

Korina’s days are not complete without a stroll in nearby Delta Park.

After being back for a year and living in Korina’s parents’ vacant home in Norwood (they, in turn, had moved to a house in the Waterberg that Korina had designed), it became clear to the young couple that putting down roots in Jozi was their fate: ‘We loved the area of Parkhurst and started looking there. Eventually this home popped onto the market and was advertised as “a renovator’s dream” – our dream.’

Alterations began in August 2011 and Korina was surprised at how easy the plans were to draw up. ‘They fell into place so comfortably,’ she recalls. ‘I literally sketched the plans one afternoon over a gin and tonic sitting on the deck in Phinda Game Reserve.’

Original Character

Architect Korina Holley transformed her Parkhurst ‘golden-oldie’.

She stuck to one basic premise when designing her home: that the character of the original house be preserved by retaining the pressed steel ceilings and salvaging the wooden floors. ‘It was fundamental for me to marry the old-world charm with modern elements and clear lines,’ she says. ‘I wanted a space that was strictly reduced to the essential, purposely devoid of decorative elements and adornments, and with nothing frivolous.’

With this in mind, then, walls were bashed down to create an open-plan living area, windows extended from ceiling to floor so light could stream in and steel beams erected and left exposed. The patio was extended to the north and a front guest bedroom to the south, adding an additional 117m2 onto the footprint of the now three-bedroom home. The result is exactly what Korina had in mind: a spacious, bright and warm home where the clean lines serve to exemplify character and draw your eye upward to the beautiful pressed ceilings framed by steel beams and vertical columns.

Design Guideline

Korina’s robust vividly hued artworks, many by her mother, Eicke Schmidt.

The architect’s approach to the furnishings mirrored the design guideline she set for herself: clean, contemporary and uncluttered, with just a touch of sentimentality. These include the slick white kitchen cabinetry and fittings, seamless built-in cupboards and minimalist TV cabinet, which she designed herself as a contrast to robust vividly hued artworks, many by her mother, Eicke Schmidt. Then there is the outdoor patio with its warm wooden furniture – again, designed by Korina – the hanging pod chair and welcoming loungers. Unsurprisingly, this is her favourite node in the home and a tribute to relaxed alfresco living.

Cosmopolitan Neighbourhood

For Korina, the best part about living where she does is the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the suburb, home to some of Johannesburg’s best restaurants and designer shops. ‘I love walking down to 4th Avenue, which has a kind of high-street vibe – quite unusual considering Joburg is known for its mall culture. I love the broad streets lined by mature trees and, of course, the proximity of the parks. Not a weekend goes by without a walk through Delta Park with Isabella, our daughter, and Calvin, our boxer.’

Parkhurst has the added advantage of being close to where Korina works, at Seymour Studios in Parktown West. It’s a collective space of other independent architects, the majority of whom are also young moms. And there is an added perk of having her home close to the office, explains Korina: ‘It’s hugely helpful to have my house nearby as a precedent that I can bring clients to.’ Proof, then, that Korina’s transformation of her Parkhurst dream home is, as an extension of her life’s work, a gift that continues to give.

Creative Co-op

Seymour Studios, where Korina works, is a collective space that serves as a home to the practices of a number of other independent architects. Such work environments are becoming increasingly popular in the creative fields as they allow for the free flow of ideas, networking and peer review.

Isabella’s room is one of Korina’s favourites in the home.

Seymour Studios was founded by Karen Wygers and born of a group of independent architects’ need to share work space, with an opportunity to collaborate on bigger jobs. ‘It’s an incredibly rewarding work environment,’ says Korina. ‘To be able to be your own company yet still have the advantage of working with fellow architects is essential to design, as it allows us to bounce ideas off one another.’

For Korina, the best part about working here is that, of the eight architects who run their businesses from the premises, five are working moms with young children. ‘We’ve even spoken about the possibility of having an in-house crèche,’ she says, adding that the important thing is that ‘we understand one another’s need to find that work/life balance.’

Contact Details

Contact Korina Holley Architects on 084 653 6127 or

Text: Genevieve Fisher
Production: Klara van Wyngaarden
Photographs: Karl Rogers


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Korina is a regular at 4th Avenue Coffee Roasters in Parkhurst.

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