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1920's home gets a modern outlook

Falling in love with an older home generally means that you have plenty of work to do. Some homes may even require a complete interior and exterior renovation, and this renovation is a perfect example.


Winter is the perfect time to get cracking on renovations, or when the rainy season has passed. When taking on a large  renovation project, where budget is limited and you want to do more than a few cosmetic changes, there are many ways to give even an older home a fresh, modern look without significant alterations to the existing structure.

The 1920's property shown here had strong bones, but the interior was dark and divided up into separate rooms. The interior and exterior spaces required plenty of TLC and a vision to turn it into a modern home for a young couple. Architects Knob Modern Design and Designer Dana Martin turned this dated house into an airy home, with new finishes and fittings.

This home is typical of many older homes found in South Africa. Well-constructed, these properties are generally in good condition but require modernisation.

After the renovation the new dwelling is bright and airy, with an open floor plan that flows outdoors in the water-wise garden and entertainment area.

Throughout the lower level, the original wood floors were salvaged and reused - laid in an eye-catching herringbone design. The floor brings together other, new wood elements incorporated into the structure, particularly wood beams that support the upper level. If you are able to reuse original floors and fittings, this cuts down tremendously on the budget.

The renovation involved interior walls to be removed to increase light and space. The open plan living space on the lower level features a kitchen that takes centre stage. White marble slabs are arranged in an L-shape for a practical layout that also serves as the dining area on one side. A scullery is located just off the kitchen.

All-white interiors with white furnishings harmonize with the warm wood floors and beams, with black accents scattered throughout for visual impact.


A comfortable den features built-in tufted leather seating for entertaining, and opens directly onto the outdoor area via sliding glass doors. Contemporary wood accents continue the use of timber for accessories and this adds texture and warmth to the modern, almost minimalist setting. 





Along the central 'spine' of the dwelling, a loft level runs the length of the house and is open on two sides. This area serves as a home office and a guest bedroom with an en-suite bathroom.

The stairs from the lower to upper level have transparent glass sides and the steel and wire balustrade around the loft provides safety without imposing on the visual flow throughout the open areas.


Bedrooms and bathrooms on the lower level feature some of the original elements of the house. In the main bedroom a exposed brick and mortar wall blends with the natural wood floor and adds an extra textural element. Exposed bricks walls can be a feature in an all-white room, especially in a modern or contemporary residence. In most instances, bricks are a light clay colour, but darker bricks can easily be given a coat of whitewash.


In the master bathroom the original fireplace remains a feature in the room. Black hexagonal ceramic tiles contrast with the white marble countertop and white fittings.


Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the outdoor area was designed accordingly to the arid, hot climate of this region. High walls surround the rear garden which features an eye-catching timber pergola. A central firepit is surrounded by wooden benches for comfort outdoors during the chill, desert evenings.