The home of architect Peter Wilkinson and his wife Sue, a senior town planner, is a treasure trove of art and sculpture collected by Peter, while living in Durban. This valuable collection now sits effortlessly alongside inexpensive, quirky pieces in their timber bungalow home in the verdant Tallebudgera Valley of the Gold Coast hinterland.
Peter and Sue, together with their son Harley (15) and daughter Catelyn (13) left Durban in late 2000 and headed for Hong Kong. Peter was one of the partners in the Durban architecture firm MacCaffrey, Wilkinson & Little, while Sue worked for the Durban city council as a senior town planner.
After spending five years working in Hong Kong, the Australian lifestyle beckoned and the family made a second move, arriving on the Gold Coast in 2005. Peter is now the design manager for South Sky Investments, while Sue works for Brannock & Associates, a boutique town planning firm in Brisbane.
Their home is set on three acres of undulating lawns which are interspersed with numerous fruit trees and a shady creek at the bottom of the grounds is home to a family of ducks – some what different from their urban Edwardian home on Durban's Berea! The house is a delight to the visitor – from the bountiful welcome one receives from the two Rhodesian Ridgebacks outside, to the interesting and artful way the furniture and artwork is displayed inside. In every corner there is a surprise that engages – a collection of Peter's LP record albums are casually stacked in front of a vivid painting by Andrew Verster, while a Hennie Stoebel ceramic vase sits alongside Sue's gumboots.
A group of carved Zulu birds (bought at various times from roadside vendors in Zululand) seem quite at home sitting on the front veranda and a smiling giant carved fish by sculptor Jackson Hlongwane seems happy to be about to escape off the deck. Other groupings include lithographs by John Roome, an Errol Boyley painting, ceramics by Rodney Blumenveld and lithographs and bronze sculpture by Andries Botha – all deftly arranged together with the furniture, which is an eclectic mixture of antique and modern pieces from South Africa, China, Indonesia and Australia, to create a warm and welcoming home, reflective of the family and its own personal history.
What I ‘ve learnt from this home:
Don't try to replicate South Africa in Australia – embrace the best Australia has to offer and make it unique to your home. Peter has done this by turning an iconic Australian timber bungalow into a stylish family home.
Even inexpensive and unlikely items have decorative value when properly displayed – like the group of carved birds, the collection of records and the use of foliage arranged in vases instead of flowers.
Don't leave the decorating to only the interior: pictures, sculptures and furniture on an outside deck help to create another inviting living area.
Deborah Atkins of Red Door Interiors has 25 years experience in decorating in South Africa and Australia and designs in all areas of the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney.
For more information seewww.sabona.com.au/deborahatkins