A version of this article appeared in Elle Decoration South Africa in April 2011.
Edgy functionality meets a farmhouse feel in the warm Joburg home of Lucilla Booyzen and Paul Pamboukian
Hidden down a Parktown North panhandle, this lived-in home is an ode to practicality and detail, with the warmth of a contemporary farmhouse.
Tucked in a forest of calm, seemingly miles away from the traffic of Jan Smuts Avenue, the home of South African Fashion Week founder and director, Lucilla Booyzen, and her husband, celebrated lighting designer Paul Pamboukian is a thoughtfully curated, honest reflection of who they are and the things they love.
The pair have been together for 25 years and their home has evolved collaboratively with their family, with rooms redefined and reinvented into modern, open-plan spaces.
Friend and interior designer David Strauss helped the couple rework the house once daughters Mati and Marcelle moved out. Without throwing anything away, they rearranged, recovered, broke down walls and opened the space up, while maintaining the warmth and informality of the their lifestyle.
Inside the open-plan living-dining-reading area, black slate floors meet reclaimed hardwood planks, which Paul laid himself. The light-filled room is dominated by a long, custom-built dining table. “We’ve squeezed 22 people around it, and spent many entire afternoons talking, eating,” Lucilla says.
The dining area is heated during bitter highveld winters by a Morsø cast-iron stove, whose copper chimney stretches into the bedroom above, sharing its warmth with the rest of the house. Lucilla loves the honesty of the raw metal pipe, “It’s being real, not hiding anything,” she says.
The warm putty-coloured walls provide a canvas for Paul’s textural lighting designs, but it’s a work in progress, he says. “It’s a little like a cobbler's children having no shoes,” he laughs.
Their walls suggest a love of beautiful lines and simplicity of colour. Etchings by Pierneef and Andrew Travis hang alongside black and white pieces by Leon Vermeulen and Massimo Cecconi photographic prints.
“I wanted a house in shades of gray, muted colours,” Lucilla explains. “But somehow the red crept in.”
The couple tried to keep things minimalist, but their home is testament to a collector’s eye. Lucilla finds treasures on her travels and brings everything back with her.
“There’s not one thing in this house that doesn’t have meaning,” says Lucilla. She gestures towards a stuffed felt heart on her bedside table, a gift made by Paul’s eight-year-old niece.
In the open bedroom-bathroom, the stained mirror with its stripped wood frame is from her grandmother’s bathroom. “It’s still the same mirror we looked into all those years ago,” Lucilla smiles.
Paul’s minimal design aesthetic complements Lucilla’s philosophy of fashion - buying individual pieces on their merits of craftsmanship and detail of design. As the modernity of their home complements the raw beauty of precious pieces, the contrast making each thing more special.
The pair have worked all over the world, but chosen to remain in South Africa. “I avoid superficiality,” Lucilla explains, “You feel this realness in South Africa, and that’s why we live here.”
“Nothing is conscious. I don’t do anything for effect,” says Lucilla. “And our house is an honest reflection of us.”
A version of this piece appeared in Elle Decoration South Africa, April 2011.