Feb 15, 2018 | Show Property

A three-level penthouse apartment in a sought-after Johannesburg suburb offers the ultimate in luxury contemporary living

Joburg is known for being one of the most treed and green cities in the world. Many make the most of this by enjoying big verdant gardens on ground level, but that’s not to say you cannot benefit from the beauty of this enormous urban forest from the lofty setting of a penthouse. A three-level penthouse apartment at The Houghton makes a solid case for a lock-up-and-go lifestyle via generous spaces, a luxe interior and a low-maintenance outdoor entertainment area, proving you can have the best of all worlds.

“It had to have impact but also be relatively neutral.”

Head Interiors was tasked with designing and dressing the unit as a showhouse for sale, the latest in a series of projects this interior design consultancy worked on in the luxury development.

“We usually design for a specific client, with their personality in mind,” says Mareli Muller, the lead designer on the project. “It’s a challenge to create a scheme someone could see themselves living in when you don’t know who that will be. In addition we had to create a space that would appeal to a certain level of clientele – it had to be polished and on trend.” This careful balance between keeping the spaces neutral enough to appeal to a wide range of potential buyers and injecting enough personality not to seem sterile was achieved by looking for inspiration with universal appeal. Here, Mareli turned to the setting.

“The magnificent golf course was a natural starting point,” she says. Drawing on the velvety putting greens and pockets of trees, the team created a theme that serves to celebrate the surroundings rather than try to compete with them. “Being this high up you’re essentially living in the air, quite removed from the ground, so I wanted to bring in the sense of being in a garden.”


The rooftop level is designed for entertainment, with a covered seating, dining and serving area, as well as a pool and outdoor terrace. It ticks every box as far as summer parties are concerned.


Layered textures and a neutral palette make for a cocooning effect in the bedrooms. In the master suite Mareli used a selection of grey shades and the occasional jewel- toned accent via art and accessories to add interest.


The seating in the covered area on the rooftop has the same feel of contemporary comfort as the formal downstairs sitting area, albeit in a more casual interpretation.

A neutral base of grey and taupe was layered with jewel tones (mainly green as a further nod to the outdoors, but also amber, sapphire blue and deep red), and luxurious textures to give it richness. Floral fabrics, carefully placed fauna motifs, pale timber and textured wallpaper further work to create a high-end yet breezy space.

The softening effect of these natural references and clever spatial use make for an apartment that, although an impressive 1 000 m2 in size, doesn’t feel intimidatingly big. “To illustrate just now huge it is, we had to custom-design all the furniture,” says Mareli. “The scale and proportions of the apartment meant that standard-sized pieces would have just been swallowed up by the space.”

Mareli went further in creating a dynamic scheme by forming smaller areas within large rooms that either serve a purpose or just provide visual pleasure, like a cluster of side tables and vases and a cosy seating corner. Finally, dividing the apartment into entertainment, bedroom and living levels helped Mareli and her team to focus on creating a different feel for each section.

The rooftop terrace is a celebration of sociable living. Huge doors open out to an astroturfed deck and pool. “You can sit on the sofas straight from the pool,” says Mareli. “It’s a relaxed outdoor space, and it’s all about hardwearing materials.”

Credits: TEXT Julia Freemantle PHOTOGRAPHS Annelize Nel