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Not that long ago, a house in the southern suburbs of Cape Town wasn’t anywhere remotely on Jo Springthorpe and Jeffrey Liss’s radar.
But thanks to the insistence of a real estate agent friend who knew of Jo’s passion for homes with architectural authenticity — in particular mid-century design —and encouraged her to view the single-level property, the couple was soon envisioning a life within its handsome walls.
Though of a modest scale (“part of its appeal for us, actually”) and in need of an update, there was so much to commend the house. Designed and lived in for decades by its original owner-architect, Dennis Elliot, the typical 50s characteristics were unmistakable and, to design aficionados such as Jo, utterly iconic: a simple box form, pitched roof, white painted bagged brickwork, timber ceiling paneling and parquet as well as clay tile floors.
“It was so expertly designed and in such brilliant condition,” says Jo. “We discovered that the original builder was an Italian master builder and it really shows. There was no damp, zero structural or roofing issues at all, which is a miracle for a house of this age and one in an area known to have its own little microclimate that can be quite wet and overcast.”