Rules of Engagement


Decorator David Carr and architect Peter Cohen’s guide to how they maximised the potential of every room in this Jo’burg home.

Rules of Engagement from Condé Nast House & Garden on Vimeo.

Take chances with decor

‘The main living area was informed by the clients’ collection of fine art,’ says decorator David Carr, who championed a massive Gillian Ayres by hanging it above the fireplace while also giving pride of place to Eileen Gray works, too. Traditional pieces were also given an update; a mid-century chaise was reimagined in sunshine yellow while an heirloom coffee table was paired with modern Perspex pieces. ‘Despite breaking all the “rules”, these elements work in creating an effortlessly lived-in and undecorated look,’ says David.

Create spaces that transport

David and Peter decided to make ‘a little piece of rural France in the middle of bustling Sandton’. This was achieved by creating a potager using an assortment of found objects while the exposed brick wall gives the space a sense of permanence.

Experiment with ceiling levels

‘Different volumes create a variable experience in the home,’ says Peter. He achieved this by leaving the roof trusses exposed in the lounge and playroom. He also painted them a similar tone to the flooring, effectively making them a decorative feature.

Function can be personal

‘Much like the kitchen, the bathrooms are more than just functional spaces,’ says Peter. David agrees, ‘This is as much a space for bathing as it is relaxing with a cup of tea.’ Here, walls were given a similar cement treatment as the floors to create warmth, while velvet upholstery breaks any austerity.

Create harmony

‘Though the steel beams were a structural requirement, we decided to turn them into a decorative element by leaving them exposed,’ says architect Peter Cohen. By doing this he effectively unified the space by repeating the industrial linearity of the windows and doors as well as the steel pillars that run down the exterior walkways.

Photography Elsa Young