Property developer, Brian Green has an eclectic eye for design that is reflected in the family home he shares with wife Lulu and their children, as well as their decor store, Tin Table.
Brian Green ushers me into his sprawling Forest Town home and I immediately fall in love with the creaking wooden floors and the charming fireplaces and fittings. Built in 1924, it is set in a rambling and well-kept garden and is the epitome of old Johannesburg; Brian’s wife Lulu claims it keeps them captive in the city. Decorated in an eclectic style that Brian has dubbed ‘Anglo-Indian’, the home is bursting with treasures, many of them gathered over years of travel. Brian and Lulu have a rather rare synergy in their aesthetic – their tastes are so aligned they even dress similarly.
Brian, Lulu and their three sons, Rupert, Jack and Oscar, have grown up in a home that often plays host to guests and, according to Brian, decorating the table is usually up to the boys. “They have been well trained to set beautiful tables,” he says.
The table that Brian has prepared is a perfect reflection of the charming home in which it resides. Everything on it has an interesting story attached, bringing a sense of adventure, and I can imagine riveting conversations centred around the provenance of a salt cellar or a piece of cutlery. “A few years ago while we were in Jodhpur, I came across this beautiful collection of Belgian cast glasses,” Brian explains. “I was drawn to their heavy ridges and the tactility of their profiles, as well as the range of colours. We now have a collection of around 30, which have all been carefully selected.”
Lulu has always wanted a silver service and the couple recently invested in a canteen of solid Georgian silver – again, it is the feel and weight of such beautiful pieces that drew them. On enquiring whether they are used regularly at dinner parties or just brought out on special occasions, I am met with a logical response: “As they date back to the 1780s and cannot wear out, why wouldn’t we use them all the time?” The heavy cutlery holds a weight of history in the centuries-old metal. Their everyday salt has been crushed from an 11kg slab that the couple lugged back from Timbuktu. “Little things like these add to the richness of the meal,” adds Brian.
“Our dinner parties are unfussy; they’re lush and hearty. Lulu is a great cook all-round but her salads are stratospheric – pine nuts, pomegranate from our garden, lemon zest – bold flavours and strong combinations. Favourite dishes range from an aglio olio pasta to a ham with chilli and papaya.” Basics such as roast chicken are accompanied by sides with a twist; it’s all about the combination of interesting flavours.
A parallel comes in with the guests too, as much effort goes into choosing the perfect combination of friends to occupy the mismatched chairs around the table. It sounds to me like this welcoming couple has the perfect recipe for a heart-warming winter gathering.
Find Tin Table at 44 StanleyAvenue, Milpark (www.44stanley.co.za) and 03 Desmond in Kramerville, Johannesburg.
By Blake Woodhams
By Dominique Brown