For many of us, adulthood means parting from a shared house with your siblings, for better or for worse, but for Bronwyn Cane and her brother Jonathan Cane, many of their best adult years have been spent together under the same roof — now the fifth house they have lived in together since their childhood home. Their new space in Brixton, Johannesburg — a charming semi they renovated together on a quiet street just down the road from the Breezeblock centre — is the perfect confluence of their separate passions and specialisations.
When they bought the property together in 2019, it needed massive repairs, but it ticked every other box, and today the bright, light and welcoming space couldn’t be further from the house’s formerly dark interiors and muddy colour palette. Its sensitive material choices and nod to the past speak to Jonathan’s eye for history, while simultaneously working as a highly functional space that makes the most of its diminutive size, thanks to Bronwyn’s spatial prowess. But what’s it like making a place to live with your sibling?
‘I honestly love living with my brother, and couldn’t imagine it any other way,’ Bronwyn says, who is a designer at Egg Designs. ‘It just makes sense staying with someone you know so well. It’s not an effort – you can chat when you want; make dinner together. It’s like living with your best friend, but it’s family.’
Jonathan, a researcher at WiSER, Wits University, and author of the recently published ‘Civilising Grass: The Art of the Lawn on the South African Highveld’, says it’s a different way of living, and comes with its own challenges.
‘One of the things we both learnt was that there weren’t models for this type of living. What does it mean to get older together? You wonder about how you’re going to make a new family, and live a grown-up life together, but the thing that makes it easier is that you’ve known each other longer than anyone else. Of course we still fight, but you know… you can be fine two minutes later.’
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