Darley Interior Architectural Design (DIAD), a Design Agency member of the IID Professions, were shortlisted in the International Hotel and Property Awards 2014 for their excellent work on a refurbishment design project at the Balalaika Hotel.

Congratulations from the IID and its members!

Here’s a profile on the project:

Contact Person Sarah Jane Forman
Name Balalaika Hotel
Location Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa
Completion Date 31 August 2013
Hotel Group Protea Hotel
Key Suppliers Crossley Carpets of South Africa
Vision Accessories, Furniture and Lighting
Black Fabrics
Hertex Fabrics
Leonardo Designs
United Wallcoverings
Overall description of the project

The Balalaika Hotel is a long-standing establishment in the financial and commercial centre of Sandton, Johannesburg, one of Africa’s leading financial districts, celebrating its 64th year of operation in 2013.
It is a four star Hotel that is frequented by many local and international travelling business-men and women, as well as a sought-after conference, function and dining venue. This was, amongst many other reasons, why DIAD was and continues to be exceptionally proud to have played an integral part in the first stage of the Balalaika’s refurbishment addressing key areas within the Hotel.
The Balalaika is a 330 room Hotel and is in a prime location, within walking distance of many tourist and business locations – Sandton City Shopping Centre, Nelson Mandela Square and the Sandton Convention Centre. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange is on the Balalaika Hotel’s doorstep as is Deutsche Bank, ABM Amro, Nedbank, RMB, HSBC and Investec.
The Hotel prides itself on being one of the original hotels in South Africa, and while it nestles in the heart of Sandton its beautiful gardens and country atmosphere give it a comforting feeling of home away from home.
During the month of March 2013, DIAD was appointed to put together a concept for the refurbishment and procurement of the Lobby Reception area, Lobby Lounge (including the “Oval” Coffee Bar), the Men’s and Ladies’ toilets at lobby level, “Lord’s” Cigar Bar and lastly the Banqueting/Conference Level consisting of a large Pre-function space, a Ballroom and four other fully-equipped meeting rooms that cater for up to 350 people. The Procurement that DIAD was responsible for included finishes, building work and soft furnishings. The Hotel’s refurbishment remains an on- going process; key areas such as the Hotel bedrooms still require addressing – however the Client from inception of DIAD’s appointment was adamant that the Hotel remain completely operational and that the upliftment be completed in stages. Throughout the six-month refurbishment process of the areas mentioned above from end March to end August 2013 the hotel successfully remained operational, one of the largest challenges DIAD faced.
Entering from the Main Reception Lobby, ones’ path is led most directly through to the terrace and the beautiful flourishing gardens so well tended to by the Hotel. In an effort to integrate the two spaces, interior and exterior, a more botanical feel was introduced within the lobby through fresh, uplifting colours of soft blues, various shades of green and patterned florals in both the fabrics and the custom-designed carpeting.
The gardens remain one for the key attractions of the Hotel and when relaxing alongside the pool or on the outdoor terrace one is completely unaware that the busy hub of Sandton surrounds you.
Whilst incorporating the garden feel, elegance and an up-market ambiance was essential and DIAD wanted to ensure that the style of “chic country” became part of the mix. A“punchy elegant wow factor” was achieved through the use of black combined with gold-leaf and yellow.
In order to create a continuity throughout the Hotel, as was a top priority for both DIAD and the Balalaika, the same base colours were used in all areas where carpeting was replaced, with a couple of key colours changing in each area. This allowed for the development of an individual character for each different area emphasizing different colour theming (for example the soft greens and blues in the Lobby), while establishing a holistic feel.


Before - Main Entrance and Concierge
Before - Main Entrance to Lobby Lounge
Before - Fireplace
Before - Exterior of Fireplace wall leading to Lifts

DIAD’s Scope of Services for the Lobby Area included the design and procurement of the following:

Partial replacement of existing flooring – specifically a custom designed woven carpet for the Lobby Lounge, replacement of wall finishes including wallcoverings, paint finishes, and mirror cladding (behind the reception desk to create the illusion of a larger and higher space), replacement of the coffee shop in the Lobby Lounge area, replacement of granite ledges throughout the lobby with rhino white polished marble, changing the existing orange-mahogany timber colour dominant in the reception area to a more classic dark brown, new lighting fixtures, new curtaining, custom-designed furniture pieces with striking fabrics and the replacement of the existing fireplace. Key fabrics were selected for their botanical design linking to the Balalaika gardens. The light fittings were selected specifically for their leaf-type design elements.
DIAD’s brief as received from the Balalaika Hotel was to introduce a sense of “new energy” to the space; to create an uplifted and more elegant character for the Hotel while remaining true to its well-known reputation as “A little bit of Country in the Heart of Sandton”. This adage, along with the beautiful gardens of the Balalaika, were in essence the spark that inspired DIAD’s Design Concept.
While DIAD was appointed in March 2013, the Lobby Lounge and Reception area was to be the final stage of the overall first phase of the project and DIAD was allocated four weeks (the month of August 2013) to complete the demolishing and building works required in the Lobby while the hotel remained operational. This required precise planning from both DIAD and the Hotel; as no Project Manager was appointed DIAD took on this role in addition to that of design and procurement. Daily site visits were carried out as well as daily coordination with Contractors and Suppliers.


After - Reception Desk
After - Main Entrance view to Concierge Desk
After - From Main Entrance to Lobby Lounge
After - Lobby Lounge from Reception Desk view
After - Lobby Lounge from Oval Coffee Bar view
After - Main Entrance opposite Concierge After - Lobby Lounge

Business Center:

Before - Business CenterAfter:

After - Business Center
 “Oval” Coffee Bar:
Before:Before - Oval Coffee Bar

Before - Oval Coffee Bar


After - Oval Coffee Bar
After - Oval Coffee Bar


DIAD worked very closely with the Hotel Owner and its Management Team resulting in the establishment of a fantastic synergy. This was key to the success of the Balalaika refurbishment.
In addition to this DIAD was whole-heartedly passionate about the project from our appointment and we believe this has come through in the design and execution of the project.
DIAD remained true to the character of the hotel, to its country charm – with a twist of chic – this created a winning transformation.


In the five years DIAD has been operating, this has been one of the most rewarding projects DIAD has had the privilege to work on – the goals set out to us were achieved along with the assistance of innovative and talented Suppliers and Contractors. Not only did we receive wonderfully positive feedback from our Client, in addition the feedback from Hotel Patrons passed on to us by the Owner and Staff of the hotel has been phenomenally positive. The refurbishment has been received by all who frequent the Hotel with great delight.
The Balalaika has retained its long-standing character but has an uplifted, fresh, new and elegant dimension to it. Mission accomplished.
Contact DIAD here

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The African Institute of the Interior Design Professions (IID) is the only professional body representing the Interior Design industry in South Africa. It operates nationally with representation in GautengKwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern and Western Cape.

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