2Summers Moves to Brixton

by | Oct 7, 2021 | Brixton, Emotions, Johannesburg | 72 comments

Last week I moved from Melville, the central Joburg suburb where I’ve lived for the past 11 years, to Brixton, another central Joburg suburb about five minutes away.

Heather in Brixton
Here I am in a Brixton alleyway not far from my new house. I didn’t realize until afterward that my shirt perfectly matched the graffiti. (Photo: Thorsten Deckler)
New house in Brixton
Thorsten in front of our new house. It’s a semi-detached house (Americans would call it a duplex), meaning it’s two houses attached by one wall. Ours is the one on the left. The house is at least 100 years old, possibly older, and has just been renovated.
Thorsten's watercolor of Brixton semi
Thorsten coincidentally made this watercolor sketch of the house a couple of years ago, long before we decided to move there, as part of a series he created on old Brixton houses. See more of Thorsten’s artwork at @thethinking_hand.

Moving five minutes up the road should be no big deal, theoretically. People move all the time. But this move is, in fact, a big deal for me. It’s a huge fucking deal, so much so that I haven’t been able to figure out how to blog about it.

I generally try to move as little as possible. Despite my seemingly transient nature, I am a huge homebody. I’m a Cancer, and while I don’t think much about the Zodiac I definitely have this crab-like trait: Moving homes makes me extremely anxious. I just reread the blog post I wrote after my last move six years ago, when I only moved from one end of Melville’s 6th Avenue to the other, and couldn’t believe how emotional it was.

Also this is the first time since I came to Joburg that I’m living in a place other than Melville. Melville is a wonderful, unique neighborhood and living there was a huge part of my identity for more than a decade. For many years I thought I would never leave Melville. But a year or two ago I started feeling like I was ready for a change, especially after the Melville Cat died.

Even though Brixton is really close to Melville, it’s a very different type of neighborhood. Brixton is older than Melville and closer to downtown Joburg. The houses are different. The people are different. The sounds are different. Even the light is different.

Sentech Tower in the late afternoon
Brixton in the late afternoon, with the half-painted Sentech Tower (it’s transitioning from tan to gray) looming above. Brixton feels more urban than Melville and there are fewer big trees. While I do love Melville’s stately trees, I also love Brixton’s openness, which creates more poignant light in the mornings and evenings.
Jeanette selling amagwinya
Jeanette and her granddaughter Atlegang sell amagwinya (a.k.a. vetkoek, a.k.a. fat cake) for one rand apiece outside their home on Barnes Road in Brixton. (We bought some and it was delicious.) Although selling food in front of one’s home is very common in many parts of Joburg, this is not something you’ll see in Melville or the Parks.

There are tons of kids living in Brixton, and they tend to be more free-range than kids in other nearby neighborhoods. The park next to my house — Kingston Frost Park, which I need to do a proper blog post about soon — is teeming with children on weekday afternoons and weekends. I love listening to them play. I also love listening to the call to prayer, which I can just barely hear on clear evenings from the mosque in nearby Mayfair.

Kids playing in Kingston Frost Park
Kids playing on the communal exercise equipment in Kingston Frost Park.

So moving to Brixton is a big deal. The community here is really special; it’s extremely racially and economically diverse and there is a lot of pride in the community. I’m really excited to be part of it and to blog about all the amazing creative projects happening in Brixton.

More alleyway artwork by local artist Bronwen Findlay.

This move is also a big deal because I’m moving in with Thorsten. I’ve been living alone for the past four years and moving in with a partner is not a decision I undertake lightly at this point in my life. But we’re both so excited about it, and I’m putting real thought into home décor for the first time in decades. Thorsten and I realized we have really good taste as a couple. (He’s an architect and extremely handy, which helps.)

Fireplace in the new house
The house has a beautiful vintage fireplace, which Thorsten heroically got burning during an unexpected cold snap last week. Repairing the fireplace involved a complicated series of tasks, including angle-grinding clay bricks and stitching them together with wire. (See how Thorsten pulled this off in his Instagram post.)

Our cat, Trixie, looks amazing in this house.

Trixie on our newly reupholstered chairs
Trixie dozes on one of our newly reupholstered chairs.
Trixie in the kitchen
It’s uncanny how well Trixie matches the house. And she knows it.
Hallway in the Brixton house
Our double-width hallway (or “passage”, as the South Africans call it). I’m very pleased with the coat rack at the end, purchased from Simon Peacock at the Old Lake Market in Parkview.
Red shelf and pineapple picture
Pretty red shelf from Dokter and Misses below Thorsten’s architectural drawing of the Big Pineapple, which he gave me as a birthday present after our epic pineapple pilgrimage last fall.
Pineapple key holder
Thrifted pineapple key holder. We might start calling our home the Pineapple Palace.
Brixton bedroom
Continuing with the pineapple theme, we painted my formerly white bedroom furniture yellow. It contrasts well with our teal curtains from Mr. Price (the Target of South Africa). And I finally hung the beautiful mohair tapestry I bought years ago in Lesotho from the Weaving Women of Teyateyaneng.
Dressing table
My first-ever dressing table. This antique mirror belonged to Jon and I’ve been dragging it around with me from house to house for years. I think it’s finally found its proper place.
Trixie on the new couch
Trixie on the back of the couch, also newly reupholstered thanks to Sullies Fabrics and a fantastic upholsterer in Mayfair named Omar. (You can reach Omar at 068-551-5299.)

I live in Brixton now — yay! Thanks for all the great years, Melville.

I dedicate this post to the Melville Cat, who died exactly a year ago today. I miss you, Smokey. I don’t think you would have liked living in Brixton (not enough outdoor space at this house) but we did bring a little piece of you with us and I think about you every time I see it.

Shrine to the Melville Cat
Shrine to the Melville Cat in our Brixton passage.

More Brixton content to follow.

72 Comments

    • 2summers

      Thanks Di. Let me know when you’re next in Joburg — I’ll have you for tea!

      Reply
    • Justin

      It looks beautiful Heather! I hope you feel settled, are happy and enjoy many wonderful splendid year’s there.

      Reply
  1. David Bristow

    Very urban chic, very nice. If you have not already, you will thank me for this next bit of advice: buy a roll of rubber under-carpet (the criss-cross holey kind) and a few rolls of carpet tape, and rubberise the underneath of that nguni rug.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      That is a very good suggestion! Thank you.

      Reply
  2. Fatima

    A very pretty house indeed!

    Reply
    • Albert

      What a nice home. Love those gleaming wooden floorboards and the decor!

      Reply
  3. Jeannette

    So happy for you – looks gorgeous – Enjoy!

    Reply
  4. Anriette

    2summers I wish you happiness and light in Brixton. I lived there for 12 years and then moved to Melville – where I still am. I missed Brixton terribly.. it took 10 years before I started to really like Melville which at first felt very cluttered and yuppie to me. The skies and the light, the sense of being on top of the city, people talking to one another in the street, the magic if Kingston Frost Park…so many wonderful things.

    I had many cats there. They were happy too.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Aw, thanks Anriette! Melville had its own magic, too. I think Trixie will live it here but Smokey could never have coped in this particular house – no garden.

      Reply
  5. dizzylexa

    Yay! the move is over and you and Thorsten look as though you have been there forever, I would still have had boxes all over the place. Wishing you both lots of happiness and memory making times in this new home. Love the shirt that matches the graffiti.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Oh, we do have many boxes still – I just didn’t photograph those rooms 😂 But we are also very motivated to get things looking nice quickly.

      Reply
  6. genadphoto

    Ah that’s a really lovely space – well done Heather. Wishing you lots of joy, fun and laughter in your new home xxx

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks so much, Gena 🙂

      Reply
  7. Nancy McDaniel

    I am so happy for you and Thorsten. And I love the house. The reupholstered chairs are fabulous (LOVE that fabric) and the passageway….cool. And YES you and T do have wonderful decorating taste. Hope Trixie is happy there as well. (the Lesotho weaving is beautiful too)

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks Nancy! Trixie does seem very happy. We haven’t let her outside yet (there’s not a big outdoor space anyway) but she seems very happy scampering up and down that hallway with her favorite toys. Thanks again for the well wishes.

      Reply
  8. frankieford

    I wish a life filled with happy times for you and Thorsten in your lovely home.

    PS And thanks for a very readable blog, the links to other posts are great.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks so much. Frankie. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Reply
  9. Wendy Isabelle

    Great post!
    Wishing you many happy and eventful years in Brixton .

    Reply
  10. Momo Street

    What a beautiful house. I love the feel. Thanks for sharing and enjoy!

    Reply
  11. Maureen Anderson

    Congratulations to you, Thorsten and Trixie on your beautiful new home in Brixton!! What a beautiful old house and can we talk about those wooden floors and high arch passage ways!! You have decorated it amazingly. Trixie really does fit in so well with all of the colours and the decor. What beautiful homage to the dear Mellville cat Smokey. It really was so sad reading of his passing as I, too, lost a Smokey boy last year May 2020. He was a stunning siamese mix stray cat with two big enchanting blue eyes that entered into my life in December 2013, so at least I had him in my care for 6 and a half years. But back to you – so happy for you. It is a big bold new step but it’s a new chapter in your life and I wish you everything of the best and much more Heather xoxo

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Oh, thank you Maureen and I’m so sorry to hear you also lost a Smokey. The worst thing about having pets is that they almost always go before we do. Anyway thank you so much for the comment and glad you liked the post.

      Reply
  12. Ljd

    Congrats on your move. What a beautiful home. Wish you guys many happy years there.

    Reply
  13. Tumtum

    Stunning stunning home. Wishing you many happy years in Brixton. (I cant believe how good that yellow bed looks)

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thank you! Thorsten was the one who suggested the yellow — a stroke of brilliance.

      Reply
  14. AutumnAshbough

    Your house looks beautiful! Love the fireplace and the arched passage.Looks like a fantastic neighborhood, but I’d have had a hard time leaving the trees.

    The tradeoff of having a handy partner is huge, though!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks! Omg, having a handy partner is priceless. I would have spent so much money on a handyman already if I were doing all of this myself. (Or, more likely, it just wouldn’t be done.) But of course I appreciate him for more than just his money-saving potential.

      There are some really nice trees in Brixton. The streets just aren’t fully lined with them like in Melville (and a lot of the other wealthier Joburg suburbs). I do miss them too but I was surprised to find how much I also like this slightly different vibe. And luckily we are literally next door to the park so there are still plenty of big trees nearby.

      Reply
  15. Patricia Lenz

    Beautiful new home wish so much joy

    Reply
  16. Alison Simon

    Congrats on the move!! Moving sucks but it looks like this one agrees with you nicely! Enjoy

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks. I can’t complain – Moving 5 minutes away is very different from what you just did!

      Reply
  17. Anneliese Cianfanelli

    congratulations Heather, on your beautiful new home – you and Thorsten will enjoy it very much, best wishes Anneliese C

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks so much, Anneliese. Great to hear from you!

      Reply
  18. Ellen

    Heather, It’s beautiful! I wish you and Thorston every happiness in your new home.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Aw, thanks Ellen. I miss you!

      Reply
  19. Peggy Laws

    Your styling in the house is beautiful. Wish you both much happiness for your future together.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks so much, Peggy 🙂

      Reply
  20. Thomas

    Such a beautiful home, Heather! And I hear you on the handiness of architects!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Those architects are nice to have around.

      Reply
  21. pkadams

    Congratulations! Your new home is beautiful! I wish you the best together.

    Reply
  22. Crystal

    The house is beautiful, i love the artistic touches. Let us know when the other side of the duplex comes available…we can be neighbors in retirement.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Aw, that would be amazing. xxx

      Reply
  23. Nixoke

    I am really happy for you Heather! Yes I agree it is hard to move. I feel the same way. Hard to let go of. A place and all the memories it has. But also great to change! We have been in the same house for 16 years and I imagine someday I will be terrified to move. Yet my neighbor has moved every 4-5 years of her life. Take in the newness and adventure abs be grateful your old place isn’t far. 🙏

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks! My dad has lived in the same house for 50 years. I guess we all do our own thing 🙂

      Reply
  24. Craig Lotter

    Looks gorgeous, congratulations on the big move!

    Reply
  25. Margaret Urban

    I love the colours and the way everything has been ‘put together’ in your new home. May it be full of inspiration, togetherness, comfort …

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks Margaret 🙂

      Reply
  26. Lani

    Congratulations on your beautiful new beginnings! Looks amazing, gorgeous light, and nice, and bright and colorful – chef’s kiss!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks Lani! Still a few things to do but we’re getting there.

      Reply
  27. johanvisser1

    Congrats on your new home! It looks wonderful and I like the furnishings and interior. My brother used to own a house in Barnes St but I haven’t been in that part of the city for a long time

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks! You should come take a look – it’s still a great street 🙂

      Reply
  28. Ross Goosen

    Congratulations Heather,enjoy your new home.

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks so much, Ross. I hope you’re doing well.

      Reply
  29. Ray

    Beautiful, new place has a fresh look and great light, everything in its right place it seems. The houses in that area never cease to amaze me in their diversity of interior styles!

    I agree I think Smokey wouldn’t have been the Brixton cat. Happy you are happy! 🙂

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks! It is a very cool place.

      Reply
  30. Clifford Els

    Wishing you many happy years in your beautiful new home. I see many happy memories on the horizon for you and Thorston.

    Reply
  31. Hitekani Mbatsana

    Oh, how exciting. It looks lovely. I hope you have many great adventures and happiness there. Happy Exploring!

    Reply
  32. Leizl

    Stunning home and I hope you will be very happy there!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thank you so much!

      Reply
  33. Gaby

    Your new house is beautiful! I’m sure you will be very happy there!

    Reply
    • 2summers

      Thanks so much, Gaby!

      Reply

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