Extraordinary living at home

Helen Crooks

THERE are townhouses and then there are townhouses. But then there is the architect-designed Onion Row home belonging to NMMU’s director of marketing and corporate relations Pieter Swart.

This is not a townhouse in the ordinary sense of the word – it’s a showpiece, but it’s also a lived-in and obviously much-loved home which Swart shares with artist Anthony Harris.

Designed by John Rushmere, the first thing that strikes you on entering the 300m² property is its light and spaciousness.

And then there’s the art – paintings, ceramic works, sculptures, you name it Swart has it – and the truly eclectic mix of furniture that he has collected over the years.

There are so many interesting nooks and crannies that you would probably need at least a day to take in what is truly an amazing collection of interesting pieces.

Better still: “Everything in the house is green,” Swart said, inviting us to share the beauty of his home.

“All the furniture has some kind of a recycled history, right down to the table in the hallway, which has a story all of its own,” he said.

Having fashioned the beautiful dining-room table from discarded railway sleepers, Swart also salvaged the legs of a baby grand piano, which fell off the back of a lorry, to make the hall table.

And while almost every corner of the house is adorned with artwork, from Donve Branch ceramics to the biggest private collection of Greg Kerr works, there is a casualness to the art displayed that makes you feel instantly at home.

A lot of thought went into the free-flowing design which takes the eye from the openplan kitchen to the spacious dining room and lounge area with a log fireplace.

All three of the bedrooms open onto their own patios. There is another patio off the lounge, with a wood paved path, which leads to a huge communal swimming pool.

There’s also a stunning circular staircase which leads to a lovely and secluded TV room. As if that’s not enough, the property also boasts an outside guest suite or domestic’s room.

“A lot of what you see here has been collected on my travels. There are Malawian chairs, which add to the African influence, while Chinese red is a colour that I have chosen to flow throughout the house,” says Swart who bought the property from Colin Rushmere around 14 years ago.

“I saw it, loved it and wanted it. I have always been a fan of architect-designed homes but could not necessarily afford to have one built from scratch,” Swart reflected.

This award-winning masterpiece was built on a vegetable patch of a huge farmhouse dating back to Walmer’s earliest days.

It echoes the elegance of that bygone era while at the same time capturing the modern essence of a secure and quiet townhouse living.

So well planned is this entertainer’s dream that no curtains are required to ensure absolute privacy throughout his space.

And while the five-home complex is conveniently sited close to shops and schools, its exterior has been cleverly crafted so that it blends so effortlessly into the area that you could blink and miss what has to be one of Port Elizabeth’s most amazing townhouse complexes.

And surely Swart’s artistic wonder has to be the star of the complex.

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