Before and After: Craighall Park Renovation

WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES Sarah de Pina


The owners of this traditional 1940s Joburg home modernised it with glass and steel, airy interiors and local art. 

The original property, which consisted of two bedrooms, a study and separate cottage set in a lush garden, had been added to somewhat haphazardly over the years. Its fairly traditional style featured small cottage-pane windows that didn’t let in much light, especially important in a shady garden, and split the interiors and exteriors.

The goal for owners Sarah Blake and Jarred Cinman was to maximise the footprint and make the most of the garden by creating a light-filled three-bedroom home with a study and generous studio/gym. “We wanted to completely modernise the space without losing the charm of the original house by letting in lots of light and incorporating a contemporary Johannesburg vernacular of clean lines,” they explain. “The previous owners had planted plenty of trees and we took them into account when designing the house. We wanted to blur the lines between inside and out, and almost create a feeling of living within the garden.”

A new double-storey section replaced the dark garden cottage, which is now connected to the main house. Opening out to the garden, it contains the master bedroom, a generous bathroom and a walk-in closet.

The renovation was not without its challenges. Problems with foundations, wiring, the position of existing walls, and even the pool were uncovered, and all of this while the owners lived in the house – no mean feat when the structure was essentially gutted to make way for steel I-beams and the project took two years to complete. Despite the abundance of glass, the house is now warm thanks to the smart use of double-glazing, a closed-combustion fireplace and solar underfloor heating.

Set against white walls, interior design studio Form Interior blended vintage pieces with contemporary furniture that has distinct Mid-Century-Scandi characteristics and hues, apt considering the house’s era. The owners consulted art critic Tracy Murinik to select some pieces for the house. A large Bronwen Findlay oil is visible from the garden through the big front windows and glows in the evening light. A photograph by Mark Lewis of informal Joburg miners adorns the glass entrance hall, and a Kemang Wa Lehulere triptych hangs above the bed in the master bedroom.

Discover more inspiring before and afters here