After stumbling upon a unique, spacious flat, homeowners Allan and Michele Solomon decided to pay homage to the era in which it was built, writes Omeshnie Naidoo
Allan and Michele Solomon live in the best of both worlds, having found a centrally located flat with all the space and light of a grand old house.
Their Musgrave home is not a penthouse, in fact from the outside it looks like any other flat in the building on Durban’s Berea. But it benefits from the area’s colourful history.
“We believe the flat was built for the Dutch consulate in the 1950s and was thus more generously proportioned than other units in the building,” says Michele.
She and her architect husband knocked down a few walls to let in more light, but maintained the character of the space.
This is a flat with 3m-high ceilings, parquet floors, beautiful fireplaces and carved Indonesian doors. Its age gives it a stature the homeowners wanted to preserve, so they restored these elements to the best of their ability.
The floor plan includes three bedrooms, three bathrooms, two lounges and a kitchen with a scullery – in short, everything you would expect of a modern home.
All of which is bolstered by magnificent views over the city of Durban, its buildings, harbour and the ocean as well proximity to major amenities.
“We like the idea of being able to ‘lock up and go,’ but with that said, we went for minimalism to a degree, without taking a cold, contemporary approach,” says Michele.
The look is modern, with local touches and a few period pieces celebrating heritage.
The kitchen consists entirely of drawers (cupboards are very last year) in high gloss white with Caesarstone countertops. It’s ultra mod juxtaposed with African milking stools.
The European aesthetic is similarly contrasted with African art throughout.
In the master bedroom, a locally made, handcrafted four-poster bed is offset by elaborate peacock print wallpaper; a 14-seater dark wood dining room table has a contemporary feel, thanks to the white chairs that accompany it; and leather and floral upholstery are arranged alongside each other in the formal lounge – which also helps strike a balance between the masculine and feminine.
The couple has a preference for neutral colours and a love of antiques, particularly art deco pieces, which is serendipitous because, as Michele points out: “Art deco was a movement across the world at about the same time the flat was built and the Berea is home to many buildings in this style.”
A circular drinks cabinet is among the remarkable pieces of furniture and while these are timeless pieces, it’s worth noting that rounded furniture is becoming a décor trend.
Michele says it’s important to avoid clutter, she advises large furniture for large rooms and that you should buy only what you absolutely love.