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Interior designer Y’vonne O’Brien creates a calming family home in Joburg

Staying true to the creative principles of her studio, The Private house Company – neutral tones, organic materials and textured finishes

By Piet Smedy  | November 23, 2021 | Category

Images by Elsa Young
Images by Elsa Young

Staying true to the creative principles of her studio, The Private house Company – neutral tones, organic materials and textured finishes – interior designer Yvonne O’Brien creates a calming family home in Joburg

On any given midsummer’s evening, you will find the future owners of this Steyn City home lounging in the sheltered patio room, ensconced between the cushions, a glass of wine in hand, with conversation and the distant hum of Joburg in the background. or perhaps they have gathered at the spacious dining room table, entertaining friends and family against a backdrop of neutral tones and warm, natural materials. and when the night draws to a close, it is easy to see them ascending the staircase, destined for one of the four cocooning rooms.

‘We designed this home as if it was for a family with two children. We always design with “practical living” in mind, whether this is in the slipcovers that can be taken off and washed or the dining chairs that are comfy for long dinners, and did the same here to make sure this future family has everything they need,’ says designer and The Private house company founder Yvonne O’Brien, whose team transformed this 371-square-metre, four-bedroom apartment in Steyn City’s recently launched city centre development. The brief was open, with the only expectation to showcase the unit’s generous floor plan, luxury finishes and (perhaps contradictory in concept) peaceful city living.

‘Our guiding principle was introducing texture. Developments are built to appeal to a larger market, so there is little individualism to them (although each of the 700 city centre apartments is unique in floor plan), and we wanted to still stay true to the look and feel of our brand. We offset the uniformity with organic textures, a restrained colour palette and incorporated a sense of liveable luxury.’

Having worked with Steyn City’s developers in the past, Yvonne and her team knew the target market, as well as the appliance and design names that had been involved with the build (the kitchen is particularly impressive, having been designed by blu_line Kitchens and fitted with Gaggenau products). ‘We had to strike the perfect balance between laid-back living and modern style, which we achieved through the use of beautiful fabrics, wallpapers and, mostly, bespoke and handcrafted joinery,’ she says.

Paramount to her design process, Yvonne set out to create an interior dialogue between the various living spaces, so though they may differ in their function, they shared a common visual language. To this end, the team opted for a neutral palette (a signature of The Private house company) and built on this foundation by adding cushions, throws and accessories. ‘Although this allows each room to have a little bit of its own colour scheme and personality, it means that the rooms always have a common thread and feeling. For us, this provides tranquillity as you move through the spaces,’ she says.

‘It is neutral, restrained, organic, textured and layered. everything that we always strive for in our interiors.’ ‘No matter what the project or whom the client, this is always a key element in The Private house company interiors; it is a process that evolves organically – just like the materials we use,’ says Yvonne. ‘Although we may have a specific look and feel for a room in mind and we choose big pieces accordingly, it is always the layering that really gives the space its life and personality.’