Take a look inside Joburg’s luxurious Gatsby home
*This article first appeared in our Home Improver digimag
Over a century ago, Randlords built impressive homes on Houghton Ridge, using the fortunes they made from gold.
Some have stood the test of time, with beautiful teak window frames and eye-stretching views. Gatsby, set on the ridge, has all the luxuries the Randlords would have wanted, plus every mod-con besides.
The house has taken its inspiration from around the world, with gardens reminiscent of those in St Petersburg, Venetian chandeliers, a Paris-styled “night club”, modern American sculptures and a white marble angel sculpture found in an antique market in Brussels.
But the house is also firmly based in Africa, with sculptures from the royal Zulu household, and, on a good day, views as far as the Pilanesberg near Sun City, as well as the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria.
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The grand house belongs to Pellerade Design House chief executive Stephen Pellerade whose vision is to be seen everywhere in it. The home offers 2 000m² of lavish living space set over four storeys, with eight elegant en suite bedrooms, a magnificent art collection and expansive outdoor entertainment areas and gardens.
There are also business and conference facilities. We asked Pellerade what influenced his design, both indoors and outdoors. “We decided that the furnishings and the design palette would be totally international; not regional, local or specific to one particular genre.”
“If there was one word to define Gatsby, it would be ‘neo-classical,” he says. “This means Venetian crystal chandeliers live together with sculptures of the royal Zulu household. Grand masters’ oil paintings are displayed in the same room as modern American bronzes; as are gigantic contemporary black-mink wingback chairs in the hall. And we mingle Chinoiserie with mid-century Barcelona chairs … and so on.”
His favourite room is what he calls the “niteclub” on the outside pool terrace level. “It’s inspired by an evening spent at the Buddha Bar in Paris with my daughter when she was 20; she chose the chocolate, pink and red colours for this sophisticated entertainment area. “The red billiard tablecloth is striking and the room has two pink chandeliers above.
“Chocolate velvet curtaining contrasts with oversized bright pink velvet wing-back chairs. “And a silver-leafed Buddha statue presides over it all. This is an incredibly eclectic space with a real wow factor.”
The Randlords would have yearned for the fabulous paintings and antiques spread throughout the house’s various levels. So, which are Pellerade’s favourites?
“Well, I’m not sure if they count as antiques, but since they date from the 1920s, perhaps they do. They are the 4m high solid oak doors sourced from a palace in Buenos Aires.
“The building was erected in the 1920s and recently many of the building’s fixtures and finishes were being auctioned off. The doors are the Buenos Aires building’s original front doors.”
But in a Joburg home full of so many riches, Pellerade has trouble deciding his favourites.
“There is also the white marble angel statue just off the grand room – that’s a favourite. This was sourced from an antique market in Brussels.”
The house is magnificent and it is set, like a precious stone, in glorious grounds. Pellerade says the gardens were inspired by those at the Peterhof Palace in St Petersburg in Russia. And creating them was no easy task.
“The terraced levels are specifically designed to maximise the awesome views and took five years to create. “Massive rocks had to be blasted with dynamite and some 30000 tons of soil had to be brought on to the property. It was a huge engineering feat and incredibly costly.
“The landscaping with tall, slim conifers, Buxus hedging and several fountains and sculptures is Italianate in design.”
And, of course, that’s not all. The Gatsby house has its own spa as well as a heated indoor pool, salt-water outdoor training pool, a library and gymnasium.
There is also automated climate control, music, lighting and security systems that can be operated via a cellphone from anywhere in the world, says Rory O’Hagan, head of the Luxury Portfolio division of marketing agency Chas Everitt International.
A place like this needs staff and Gatsby has accommodation and garaging for au pairs and assistants. The Randlords thought they had it all – but Gatsby is enough to make them weep into their pink gins.