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Breathing Space

May 29, 2019 | Home

When a Joburg couple decided to redesign their ’70s house, they called in an architect to turn it into their dream home, one that makes them feel like they are always on holiday

TEXT Lauren Groenewald | PHOTOGRAPHS Stephen O’Raw

South African-born Eddie Santana met his French wife Marie on holiday in Puerto Escondido, a port town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. And, years later, they would name their dream home in Sandton House Escondido.

But let’s get back to the beginning, when House Escondido was a dark, poky ’70s face-brick house with loads of potential that the couple wanted to renovate before moving in with their two daughters, Mila and Andrea.

“It needed to be a more livable space, one with distinct communal and private zones,” says Georg Gass of GASS Architecture Studios, who was responsible for the redesign.

“It was a very positive and collaborative experience working with Georg,” says Marie. “We shared references and ideas of what we loved, and a lot of planning went into the design before we got started.”

Although the bones of the original house were good, it made more sense to demolish the kitchen, lounge and dining room to create a completely new space. The living area’s original roof was also replaced with a mono-pitched version, and new large windows allow light to flood the space.

“We chose a white Cemcrete cement-based floor, and a combination of wood and steel for the roof structure,” says Georg. A patio was removed to allow even more light into the living room, and a new one was built on the side of the open-plan living area.

One of the building’s most exciting features is the large sliding doors that allow access from the living area to the pool deck so the family can make full use of Johannesburg’s good weather. “It is really special that we can all be together in the open areas without being on top of one another,” says Marie.

The house is divided into a bedroom zone in the west wing, with two bedrooms for the daughters, separated by a play room. The en-suite master bedroom has a large man cave, or study. The eastern wing of the house has been opened up to create a large living, eating, lounging and entertaining space.

Marie was closely involved in designing the interior, which combines clean lines with beach-house references and wood for warmth. She runs her travel agency from her home office in an extension to the original house, connected to a new guest suite.

“We use every inch of the space,” says Marie. “This is our dream home, and although we love to travel, we don’t need to go anywhere to be on holiday. We may be in Sandton, but it feels like we are at the beach.”

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