In the area 1 – Durban’s Berea/Morningside
Durban’s Berea/Morningside suburb, which is Durban’s most central and established, probably houses the best evidence of the city’s distinctly colonial past – an eclectic mix of grand old homes with an array of architectural styles that include Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco and, these days, even contemporary.

Wide streets, plenty of trees, parks and gardens, some of the city’s most respected schools and plush restaurants have always set the Berea and Morningside apart.

Many of the grand homes that were owned by generations of the city’s legendary families have been bought and renovated by new owners. Stately mansions with large gardens have given way to townhouse developments. The old and new seem to have become interesting neighbours, complementing each other and giving rise to a more bohemian, quality lifestyle characterised by the well-known Essenwood Market, pavement café’s and art galleries.

Within this ‘best of both worlds’, property investors can pretty much suit themselves with a choice of olde worlde, new age or something in between. This is probably why the area is perennially popular with buyers and delivers good returns. Apartments sprouting cutting edge technology are unashamedly aimed at the top end of the market as are the glorious mansions that still uphold the Berea / Morningside suburban splendour. These are usually marketed at between R9 and R10 million with new owners unafraid to spend a further few million on renovations.

If one of Tyson Properties’ sole, exclusive mandates is anything to go by, there are definitely still some jewels to be found behind the area’s high walls. 181 Lambert Road which is situated on a 4 000 sq/m (an acre) property and has its own park-like garden and even a flood-lit tennis court is one of very few properties of this size left in central Durban.

According to Tyson Properties’ Barbara Fisher, the original house on the property is thought to have been built at the turn of the century and then demolished and replaced by the current stately home in around 1928 – if an old newspaper dating back to that year that was found in the roof is anything to go by!

The current owners has always loved the sense of space they has felt both indoors and out. High ceilings and light airy rooms are the reason for this as are the beautiful arched doors that lead out on to an enchanting veranda with balustrades that overlooks the lush garden and pool.

Extensive renovations of all rooms over the past five years have combined old and new in true Berea / Morningside style – delivering quality modern day finishes but retaining the traditional splendour.

A quaint courtyard with a water feature at the entrance sets the tone for this tranquil home. The wooden front door opens into an entrance hall with high ceilings and an ornate chandelier. A guest cloakroom is situated just off the main entrance hall.

From there, you are welcomed into the formal lounge, an elegant room that has been restored to its former glory with beautiful wooden floors. The informal lounge is open plan, interacting with the kitchen which makes it the ideal family room. American shutters, high ceilings and a chandelier add to the warm ambience. A stylishly decorated study is ideally positioned between the outdoor / indoor entertainment areas.

In contrast, the designer kitchen is ultra modern with granite counter tops, a double oven plus extractor fan and a centre island that has a wooden counter top with an inset prep bowl.

The en-suite main bedroom is expansive with stylish built in cupboards and doors leading out on to the veranda. All bedrooms are carpeted with the remaining three being roomy and light with built-in cupboards. The family bathroom is elegantly fitted and has a large bath, shower, toilet and basin which is built into a vanity cupboard with shelves.

However, according to Fisher, one of the most interesting features is the granny flat that leads out on to the garden and pool area. “This can be easily converted into an office. It has its own separate bathroom, a lounge, kitchen and two bedrooms.”

Other practical, if slightly quirky, touches include a walk-in fridge cum cold room, staff accommodation, a scullery and a tool shed. There is room for between 12 and 15 cars – a rare find in Durban’s Morningside.

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