TEXT Julia Freemantle PHOTOGRAPHS Karl Rogers
Friends since they studied together at Greenside Design Centre, Melissa Oosthuizen and Sinead Turner first connected over shared tastes in design and common life values seven years ago. While distance separated them after they graduated, they came back together as the Perma Peeps to put their design philosophies to the test for Season 5 of the Win A Home competition, broadcast on SABC 3.
Having originally entered for the previous season of the show in 2017 (after being persuaded by a friend to get a last-minute entry in), fate decreed that 2018 would be their year as one of the three teams competing for the honours. The twofold process sees one of three teams win the judges’ vote at the culmination of the overall competition, but also results in a viewer winning one of the beautifully designed apartments, which this year were located at Balwin Properties’ Paardevlei Lifestyle Estate in Somerset West.
Melissa, of East Haus Interior Design and Custom Furniture, and design activist Sinead are both passionate about people and nature, and are advocates of alternative, sustainable design solutions and the importance of local sourcing. Earthy minimalism is the best way to describe their design aesthetic – simple and spare, but with boatloads of texture and personality. The simplicity of the spaces is given additional dimension with retro accents, and is a celebration of natural materials and influences, with a sophisticated and artisanal urban twist.
The scheme offers interest without being overwhelming, courtesy of raw industrial surfaces (like concrete and wood), and the muted but current colours – spring green, yellow, pink – and punchy black are a breath of fresh air. The spaces are open and flow easily, and storage was foregrounded so the apartment is functional as well as atmospheric.
“We did our best to design a place that was contextually relevant to the area in which it is located. The indoor-outdoor lifestyle this home offers is flexible and caters to the many needs of a homeowner’s lifestyle. And the plants literally bring life and energy to the space,” says Melissa.
There is a big emphasis on sustainability throughout. “Permaculture and alternative materials and the combination thereof inspire us,” says Melissa. With one of their biggest influences being Mies van der Rohe’s dictum “Less is more”, they set out to create an urban sanctuary. “Our design style comes from our belief in the idea and implementation of minimalism within one’s daily life, not just in design. We tried to incorporate urban permaculture wherever possible in the apartment – the idea being to show people an alternative way to design by reuse of materials,” says Sinead.
The pressurised format and structure of the competition meant they had to rein in some of their ideas due to time constraints, but they found the process really rewarding. “We developed our project management skills and learnt more about ourselves, our design beliefs and language, and also got to practise our grouting skills. So much grouting!” says Melissa. Sinead agrees. “We learnt a lot about ourselves and our design journeys in life. We have grown as human beings, and have an increased understanding of our industry. Most importantly, we learnt that we have family in each other for life.”
The ultimate reward was the apartment winner choosing their design as their prize. “We had worked so hard, and it really felt great to have the recognition and to know that our space would be enjoyed and loved by the winner,” says Sinead.