When the current owners bought the house at the beginning of 2020 it was basically a fairly sound structure of brick under concrete tiles, in the style of a Tuscan villa with rough exterior plaster and a series of stepped parapet walls supporting the roof. The roof tiles were originally a reddish terracotta colour and the exterior had been painted in a fairly bright ochre yellow with brown window frames.
The exterior of the house has now been repainted in a softer, creamier sandy colour with smart white trims, white window frames with white architraves and a slate grey roof. The overall effect is cooler, crisper and much more modern. The garden was lush and tropical but somewhat overgrown and in need of some attention – mostly clearing away unchecked growth and opening up the views of the space. The garden slopes down to what was once a small perennial stream running through the property to the vlei outside the boundary. As a result of changing weather patterns, and building development in the surrounding suburb, the stream has mostly dried up, but the new owners have plans to restore it, although perhaps as an
internal water feature rather than a naturally flowing waterway.
The house had been built in the mid-90s and had previously belonged to a farmer and professional hunter. Originally it was a five bedroom
house with only three bathrooms and the internal layout was in keeping with house designs of the period – a lot of small dark rooms set out in
a pattern that was somewhat awkward and didn’t really flow well. The kitchen, lounge and dining room were all separate and the bedrooms felt
a little isolated and set off apart from the main living space. The property also included a separate guest cottage and various other outbuildings – a secure storeroom, domestic quarters and a slightly dilapidated greenhouse.
The guest cottage has been redesigned to become a well-appointed, self-contained two bedroomed, two bathroom apartment with its own kitchen, two lounges, an office area and a workshop space, as well as incorporating an enclosed parking garage for two vehicles. One of the lounges is currently used as a music room.
The secure storeroom has been converted to an extra kitchen and storage space to cater for when the owners host functions and events. The domestic quarters have been extended and renovated to now include five bedrooms and kitchen and bathroom spaces bringing the property more up to date.
The greenhouse has also been repaired and now provides year round fresh vegetables for the table – the owners are keen cooks and enjoy entertaining friends and family. The footprint of the main house is mostly unchanged, although a new verandah has been added overlooking the pool, (the old verandah has been incorporated in to the main structure) there’s a new entrance portico with a water feature and the laundry room has been updated
at the back.
On the ground floor the main entrance has been modernised with a koi pond and a Perspex portico sheltering the front door. Above the portico are slatted wooden panels which serve to soften the front façade. The front door leads to an entrance lobby with a guest bedroom and bathroom to the right and a guest sitting room to the left. (The guest bedroom is currently used as an office.) The ceiling of the smaller guest sitting room
has been removed exposing the ceiling trusses and adding a feeling of extra space enhanced by windows overlooking the new verandah and the
pool. A space dedicated as a piano room separates the lobby from the rest of the downstairs area.
Directly in front is a rather grand dining room space with a table seating ten people for entertaining in elegant style. The dining room flows into the main lounge which was previously the old verandah. The original verandah has been incorporated in to the main structural space and now new aluminium doors which open up to an additional verandah and deck space. The new verandah is one of the few extensions to the original footprint of the house. The verandah is sheltered by another Perspex awning – similar to the one at the front door – with a retractable fabric ‘ceiling’. Because the verandah is west facing there are automated blinds to block the afternoon sun.
An interesting curved feature wall, which partially screens off the main staircase and kitchen, has been clad in thin terracotta tiles that resemble
exposed brick work. It adds texture and warmth to a large space which could otherwise feel a little cold. The floors of the open plan space have
been clad with large tiles measuring 1.2 x 0.6 m which helps to unify the area. The exception is the guest lounge which has veneered timber
flooring to add warmth and a touch of luxury. The majority of the furniture in the lounge and dining room is new, carefully selected to compliment
the space, apart from beautiful old Persian carpets which the owners brought from their previous home.
The lounge and dining room flow seamlessly in to the new open plan kitchen which now becomes a focal area of the ground floor living space.
Here the ceiling has been removed again with the extra volume of space making the area feel larger and more generous. The kitchen has a large
central island clad in granite with a textured ‘leather’ finish, (supplied by Rocha Granite) ample storage and work surfaces, and modern appliances. Exposed brick tiles, wooden cabinetry and a small informal, comfortable seating area make the kitchen a warm and welcoming space.
Tucked away to the left of the main living area, down a short flight of stairs, is a second ground floor bedroom with an en suite bathroom and its own more intimate lounge that also works as an informal, cosy TV room. The bedroom has views over the garden and pool area through plantation shutters.
Upstairs is a third guest bedroom with its own en suite bathroom. The bathroom has been created by redesigning and enclosing what was originally a small balcony overlooking the domestic staff quarters. The balcony didn’t serve much purpose and the view was not particularly appealing.
Across a small shared foyer is the master bedroom which has timber floors and exposed roof trusses. The bedroom has windows on both sides so it’s very light and airy. The large windows on the west side open up to an upstairs balcony overlooking the pool and garden. Behind the bed a pony wall – clad in diagonal timber strips – demarcates a generous walk in closet. Beyond the dressing room is a luxurious, spa like bathroom with a tub and a huge glassed in shower cubicle.
Large marble- look tiles of 800 x 800mm give the bathroom an elegant and sophisticated appeal. Throughout the house the old plumbing and electrics have been modernised and brought up to code so there are unlikely to be any repairs or maintenance in the near future. There’s a prolific borehole to supply water for the house and a comprehensive solar set up for power. Hot water is supplied by solar pressure geysers and the whole house is run off a 20kVA Victron inverter with 6 lithium ion batteries and 24 solar panels.
The interior structural design was a collaboration between Abed Khalatbari and Mirko Tucakov. Structure and Design has featured a number of their previous collaborations including Sandalwood Lodge (issue 25) and Café Nush at Village Walk (issue 12). Tucakov works as the consulting architect
providing inspiration, advice and technical drawings while Khalatbari tends to have the overall vision and also functions as the project manager and interior designer.
Khalatbari and Tucakov have once again proved that vision, collaboration and dedication can create beautiful, functional, modern spaces that don’t need to entail a huge budget.
Abed Khalatbari was born in the city of Isfahan in Iran and moved with his family to Zimbabwe at the age of 9. After finishing school he studied Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town from 2005 to 2010.
While successfully completing a home renovation project in Cape Town he discovered his true passion – construction, and creating and designing interior spaces. As a result he continued his studies completing courses in Construction Management and Property Development and Investment at the faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.
Khalatbari’s vision is to renovate and modernise older unusual and interesting properties around Zimbabwe, in both the residential and commercial sectors, bringing them up to date and infusing them with new style and sophistication. In order to achieve this he is building a highly skilled and creative team to help realise his ideas.
He has successfully completed design and renovation projects at the various Café Nush outlets at Avondale, Village walk and at Café Nush Organiks. He also headed up the renovations and extensions at Sandalwood Lodge as well as Avecina Clinic and DigiPost in Borrowdale. The Tuscan Villa renovation is his latest project.
To get in touch with Khalatbari for comprehensive design and project management consultations email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call or WhatsApp: 0774 876