Ilali Guest House
19 Chester Road, Corner 3rd Ave, Parktown North
It was never my dream to open a B&B,' says Hannia Weber, her deep-plum shirt offsetting the turquoise and yellow walls of her newly opened ilali Guest House in Jo’burg’s Parktown North, ‘My husband bought the house and we thought, “What do we do with it now?”
Initially the couple had intentions to live in it, attracted as they were by the mature garden, the secluded back-set courtyard and the unique positioning of the house - within easy walking distance of Zoo Lake and the Parktown Quarter with its bustling restaurants and shops. ‘Once we had made the decision we were going to open a B&B instead, we realised that the most important thing was that guests got to experience Johannesburg the way we experience it,’ says Hannia. ‘We want them to be open to the fact that Jo’burg is a modern city. It’s not about the mainstream; it’s not about Sandton.
With its 1940s feel, the house was the perfect frame on which to build their ideal city bolt hole, a renovation project that took just over a year. The five rooms - two of which are outside - are all unique, with sweeping garden aspects. A red plastic headboard brightens the grey walls of one, the old SAA impala graces the headboard in another; Tretchikoffs are dotted here and there; and modernist paintings by Hannia’s grandmother, Hannatjie van derWat, lend themselves perfectly to the oversized dining room.
‘We had a very tight budget,’ Hannia says. ‘We worked with everything we had, brought pieces in from home, trawled junk shops and reused the original building materials. We didn’t waste a thing. ‘The courtyard has a luxury-lodge feet to it, with an open fire, deep-set concrete seating and water feature. In a corner of the mosaic-lined fountain, the Weber family, including Hannia’s two children, have left their hand prints, Hollywood Boulevard-style.
It’s natural that the house would have a quirky freshness and would be inimitably South African but interpreted in an interesting way- Hannia’s mother is acclaimed fashion designer Marianne Fassler. ‘I’m not the person to call in a decorator,’ says Hannia, ‘but I knew I needed help with this project,’ so she called in interiors guru Lantis Bain-Scorgie.
The collaboration was all about a design flow,’ says Lantis, who, with his business partner, Anthony Fourie, runs AntLantis Interior Design. ‘Lantis is known for his mostly monochromatic design,’ laughs Anthony with a sense of irony.
ilali is many things, but monochromatic it is not. The house is full of character, just like the city around it.