What happens when a young, dynamic team of architects who like pushing design boundaries meet a young dynamic couple looking to build an unusual, exceptional home? This … is what happens.
There is nothing dull or ordinary about this bold, unique home, which sits on the border of a protected greenbelt in a boutique estate just outside of Ballito.
The beautifully positioned abode in Brooklyn Estate was designed by David Nelson and his team from Umhlanga-based Bloc Architects, which was started eight years ago and has since become one of the top architectural firms on the North Coast.
Daring, modern and discreet (on the outside anyway), the home presents a wonderful balance of privacy and carefully planned open areas and courtyards, allowing for maximum use of all the available space.
“It is an absolute dream to work with clients like this,” says David. “They are a young couple who were completely willing to push the boundaries and just wanted ‘a really cool house’.”
Situated in what appears to be a classic, family-orientated boutique estate, the entrance to the house is as original as the rest of the residence. In keeping with the owners’ desire to have maximum privacy, the entranceway and garage doors are tucked away behind a massive, black steel sliding door. If it sounds quite dramatic, it is … but in an enticing, classy way, that makes you want to take a peek at what’s going on behind it. “So often in estates you just see one garage after another, often all looking the same. This home stands out. It was built first and foremost for privacy and the oversized screen door was integrated into the entire design.”
There is a strong emphasis on tactility and the use of raw, natural materials and it’s a theme that is seamlessly carried through from the outside to the inside of the home.
There isn’t really a ‘front door’ as such, but rather, as you enter the steel exterior door you are led, via a marvellous, quaint European-styled courtyard, through glass sliding doors into the open-plan lounge, kitchen and bar areas.
“We were working with quite a narrow site, so we wanted to maximise the use of all the space we had by blending the outside with the inside as much as possible,” says David. “All the sliding doors open into cavities in the walls, so you literally use every inch of the home and it becomes a completely flexible space.”
Courtyards are very on trend at the moment. Not only are they wonderful, serene spaces, but they often allow you to bathe your home in natural light without compromising on privacy. When the sliding doors are all open, the courtyard provides a lovely link between the bar, kitchen and outside area. When lit up at night, it also becomes a stunning entertainment area.
In keeping with the natural, raw theme, the ceilings are all off-shutter, which are not only low maintenance but also add to the industrial chic look and feel of the home, and the kitchen counters are a matt rugged concrete Ceasarstone.
While most of the soft furnishings were done by the owners themselves, David’s team provided guidance and input wherever possible. The backyard is immaculate and the house opens up onto a swimming pool finished off with beach sand and half-polished concrete.
The house has four bedrooms, with a guest bedroom and bathroom downstairs. A steel staircase leads you upstairs where the other three bedrooms are situated. A bridge with large glass windows on either side separates the main bedroom from the nursery and second guest room.
The dark colour palate is striking without being too much and is complimented by the large windows, which allow natural light to drench the interior.
Speaking of which … the interior is bold, bright and full of prints and quirky pieces, but somehow manages to have all of this without being gaudy and too over-the-top. It’s a wonderful, easy-to-be-in space that makes you want to curl up with a cup of coffee or a glass of good wine, look around and take it all in.
“This really was a dream job for us. We love pushing boundaries and experimenting as a firm and we also love working with natural materials, clean lines and open spaces. It’s very important to us that we work closely with our clients as well, because ultimately they are the ones who have to live in the space we design. Our team is passionate about architecture and we really just want to have fun,” says David.
Text: Leah Shone
Photographs: Chris Allan Photo