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Couture Club

His indelible charisma and keen eye for design has garnered David Muirhead many kudos in the interior design industry, but the magic marker’s stroke is equally evident in his own Ranch-style loft

You’re going to buy my house,’ said Aubrey Wiener almost a decade ago. ‘Why, yes I am,’ replied designer David Muirhead all of two seconds later. It was an unassuming little house – not without charm – built in 1958 on a patch in Parkmore of around 1000m2. ‘I would have bought it for the tree,’ David explains, referring to the garden’s bastion, now nestling an enormous chandelier.

Though an internship under design doyen Stephen Falcke in the early Nineties cemented a passion for interiors, the man’s been matching fabric to finishes since age three.

‘My mother kept activity and scrapbooks – I guess we always go back to what we know best ,’ he laughs.

Today his inspiring interiors invite the well-heeled, whether in sophisticated residence or elegant boutique hotels, locally and abroad. In his own home, however, no-one proves a more discerning client than David himself.

‘I really respond to the idea of apartment or loft-living,’ he admits. ‘But I don’t necessarily want to live in the CBD.’ And so, the designer who readily admits to seeing potential in any disaster, set about revitalizing the built structure to accommodate his lofty aspiration.

This house’s provenance is characteristic of the Early Modern era, though today rather disdainfully referred to as Ranch-style houses, these simple single storey, low-profile houses were popularised in the United States as new suburbs exploded onto the landscape to house the booming Silent Generation, Informed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s canonical Prairiestyle houses, the Ranch (or Rambler) typically features low, horizontal lines, lowpitched roof and wide eaves (overhangs) with open interior spaces where public and private areas are split to either side of the house, Unpretentious though they may be, these houses fell out of favour by the late Seventies and were often criticised for being style-less – and as ma ny people are apt to do, these houses have (for the greater part of this young century) been pummelled, ploughed, prepped and proportioned to suit contemporary tastes, albeit with varying degrees of success and, arguably, only for the sheer butchery of it. David asserts that his MO is not to impose any set of presupposed ideals or identities when accruing a new project. ‘It’s about the integrity of design,’ he exclaims.

‘Every project needs to be approached on its individual merits.’ The trick, in this instance, lay in reimagining the house while being mindful of the structure’s format and inherent character. David prefers to think about rooms as suites – or self-contained lifestyle hubs – where spatial delineation is dictated by the intended activities and experience that the interior plays party to, Naturally, the interior walls were the first to go, opening up vistas for a greater experience of space. According to Mr Muirhead, homes are meant to be sanctuaries – a complete escape from the working world’s rat race, The open-plan living and dining area is an elegant expanse of Crema marble floors canopied by lowered ceilings and bulkheads, Where the original fireplace was a central feature, it has been moved towards the perimeter as a subtle signifier of spatial divide into the formal lounge. The fireplace surround was then mirror-clad, not only to bounce light into the room, but also to reflect the garden’s tropical greenery, David cleverly referenced the motif in palm design wallpaper on dividing feature walls, creating a stylistically Colonial ambience. Other interior walls are painted a striking battleship grey, providing a cool, neutral backdrop for sculptural furnishings, while the brilliant white of the wide skirtings adds emphasis and frames the space. The interior styling eclectic, David upholstered armchairs, wingbacks and tub-chairs in deep-button detail and a daring choice of graphical paisleys, sultry chenilles, velvets and even metallic PVC. ‘It’s just a little sexy,’ David admits, ‘and I love texture! Again, it’s about creating a space that you can be comfortable in, something that feeds your soul. We’re all so rushed nowadays. What for? I really think we need to slow down and just enjoy our space.’

“David prefers to think about rooms as suits, or self-contained lifestyle hubs, where spatial delineation is dictated by the intended activities and experience that the interior plays party to”

Reference: Top Billing Magazine | September 2011

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