The Illustrated Brief
My new clients called me from the East, excited that they’d just purchased their first home in Cape Town. This young couple, having lived in several cities around the world, were ready to return and set down roots in their home town. What made this project quite different was that they had purchased a great deal of the finishes to ship to South Africa - an extremely clever and cost effective way of doing things.
The clients loved the existing geometric simplicity of the house and were keen to express their personal style and requirements with the property. The entire house was to be ‘touched’, with the main areas of transformation being the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms. Special attention to security was a key requirement with the clients living on the premises during the renovations and a new wrap around boundary wall was to be our starting point.
With most of the finishes selected abroad to measurements taken when the house was purchased, and remaining packed and unseen in storage, we were all a little anxious that the materials had arrived undamaged and that the end results would be a perfect fit! We diligently followed layouts and plans and literally unpacked, assembled and installed everything on site. Not always the easiest way to work, but we did it!
Stripping the floors on both levels revealed gremlins galore as a result of irregular building practices employed when the house was originally built. A fair deal of necessary remedial work was essential with all the cracks in the floors exposed and attended to, and irregular brickwork and electrics realigned - a tremendously satisfying process to prepare the space for a renewal, creating a solid foundation from which to grow and create.
The Boundary Wall
We opted to reuse the existing wooden fencing, setting it back from the boundary to maintain security throughout the building process. The foundations had to be very deep for the footings for the wall. A surprise awaited us here as sand stone boulders and old giant oak tree stumps were discovered as soon as the digging began; all but immovable, we dug deeper and deeper to prepare the site.
Levels of varying heights was of key concern as the ground behind the house was already considerably higher than at street level. On the main road side, we built the wall up from the existing rock ledge and managed to tie this in successfully with the remaining side. After several swatches and colour meetings, we elected to go with a natural sandstone colour on the exterior of the house and brought in a subtle contrast on the wall bringing in all the colours of the mountain positioned dramatically behind the house.
The Kitchen as a Living SpaceA sense of calm ... a sense of peace: this is the theme that would determine the overall tone of this newly defined living space, comfortably comprising the kitchen, dining and lounge area. The finishes are beautifully balanced and reflected in the contrasting bamboo and blues of the linear tiles.
The entire area was gutted, with a complete reworking of the electrical points. The sliding doors to the garden were moved out 2 metres making the overall area more spacious to incorporate a newly designed dining area.
With a few clever modifications to some of the Ikea units, the kitchen installation worked like a charm with locally selected caesar stone work surfaces, and the client's imported light fittings rounding off this harmonoius space.
The Main Bedroom en-Suite
We gutted the existing en-suite bathroom, extended the exterior wall to the end of the existing balcony and created an interleading door to their baby daughter's bedroom. Skew walls were straightened and openings realigned. The bamboo floor set the tone for a serene space, but we wanted to play a little here with contrasts.
Once I was able to take a peak at the dramatic black glass wardrobe sliders, which were the dominant feature, it set the tone for the rest of our design story: we chose glass aqua tiles for the splashback above the bespoke float vanity with a taupe caesar stone countertop, co-ordinated large porcelain tiles for the bathroom floor and a glass mosaic in the shower linking all the colour elements in the room together.
Enclosing the balcony upstairs created a lovely space for reading, reclining and meditating.
Bedroom & Bathrooms
We extended the daughter's room creating her own little passageway to her parents' bedroom, and by opening up the linking wall we created a large walk in cupboard. A pink theme was her preference and we carried the enchanted theme in her bathroom: stripping the entire space we created a ‘wet room’ with a raised extended floor with shower seat to house existing pipe work. A designer vanity, topped with caesar stone, and a bubble mosaic to add a whimsical element.
When it came to sorting the sanitary ware we found some very exciting Shanghai surprises! The clients' beautiful Chinese bowls were used for the children’s bathroom, guest cloakroom and guest bedroom. The baths all worked perfectly and with a few adjustments all the taps and shower roses were perfectly installed.
The guest cloak received a red theme. I set about designing a simple but invigorating little space near the front entrance. Auspicious indeed!
The Guest Suite
The old studio, which had been the client's home during the renovations, became a self-contained guest suite in the final part of the project: new dark wooden floors were laid and with creative use of materials from the main house, a kitchenette was was completed using the old granite kitchen counter top while the linear tiling theme carried through to a stylish overhaul of the bathroom.
In crisp, cool, contrast to the warmth of the floors, we opted for the remaining canvas to be white, with all the interior walls throughout the house repainted in white.
A serene simplicity was achieved throughout - a very satisfying and cost effective way to complete the makeover.
What the client said
This was a challenging project given that we brought so many of the materials with us, and that we had such a fixed idea of what the outcome should be. We are very pleased with the final results, the quality of the building work and the overall project management.