The Illustrated Brief
Retirement Enriched - Moullie Point, Cape TownChange is daunting at any stage of life, but when after 50 years in a large family home circumstances suggest downsizing to a safe, more contained environment, this can be enormously stressful for any retired couple.
Fortunately the architect for this project was also the clients' daughter which paved the way for a seamless shift in their lifestyle. She addressed every aspect of the brief with fine attention to detail and prioritised their changing needs without comprising their sense of the familiar.
Whilst adding financial value to the apartment in the retirement block, the key was to maximise space and storage. Everything was to be custom designed for maximum flexibility and accommodation. This two bedroomed, one bathroom apartment was to become a two bedroomed, two bathroomed open plan apartment commanding beautiful views of Signal Hill and the ocean.
Retirement Enriched: The ChallengeOur challenge here was the timing - the 2010 Soccer World Cup was under way and the magnificent Cape Town Stadium was on our doorstep!
Being both a retirement and frail care apartment block, stringent rules concerning noise levels and access had to be strictly adhered to. Our rubble had to be bagged and removed daily - thanks to the local supermarket's shopping trolleys, this job was made a little easier.
Units such as glass sliders and headboards had to either be hoisted up by ropes or marched up eight flights of stairs - we were on the top floor.
Given all this and notwithstanding road closures on match days, we completed within our agreed schedule and the client moved in on time, with furniture in place and their magnificent art works hung.
Retirement Enriched: The StudyThe second bedroom became his private study, with custom designed floor-to-ceiling book shelves installed.
The installation was made of white beech with integrated working desk, cupboard and storage space, the thinking here was to emulate his study in the original family home, making the change just a little more familiar.
Retirement Enriched: The BathroomsWe removed the interleading passage to the kitchen to create 'His and Hers' separate bathrooms. For him: a custom shower room to double as a guest cloakroom finished in masculine greys, whites and blacks. A spacious shower with built in mosaic seat was created for comfort and safety with strategically placed grab rails. A marble vanity added a touch of drama to the otherwise nourishingly neutral canvas.
Her bathroom was designed to become her sanctuary: travertine marble tiles complimented with mosaic detail finished the soothing spa theme. The overall feminine feel was reflected in the custom made vanity and subtle lighting. Grab rails were strategically placed for peace of mind, with a non-slip vinyl floor for softness underfoot and easy cleaning. A glass panel at ceiling height between the two was critical for natural light to his shower room, whilst all the ducting and new pipe work was cleverly housed within the kick plates of the new kitchen units.
Retirement Enriched: The BedroomsEase of access and safety being paramount at all times, we removed the existing cupboard to create a wider opening at the entrance in the event that wheelchair access might one day be a requirement.
We designed a bespoke wall to wall cupboard around their specific needs and to house the television unit.
The emergency buttons (standard to the retirement block) were repositioned to either side of the tailormade rose beech headboard and side tables.
Retirement Enriched: The KitchenWe ripped out the old kitchen and working to the architect's design and specs, refitted completely with new fittings and appliances, maximising every inch of available space: goodbye breakfast nook … hello computer nook!
Custom designed cupboards were built in lacquered super wood in the 'shaker style' with appealing granite counter tops to balance the colours and textures - all carefully sourced by us to enhance the overall theme.
The floor was covered in non-slip vinyl, again for softness underfoot and for those inevitable kicthen spills, keeping with the neutral and serene tone that we'd set about to achieve. A special detail here was a floor to ceiling glass sliding door to give privacy from the kitchen to the dining and living area without losing the feeling of spaciousness created.
Retirement Enriched: The Living & Dining AreaWe removed the previously enclosed balcony wall dividing the living and dining areas to create a much larger space, using off-white wooden venetian blinds for the windows to keep this area uncluttered and open. Cooling / heating units were built in to the lounge and bedroom with their design repeating that of the blinds, adding continuity to this neutral backdrop.
One of the biggest transformations was the breaking through of the existing kitchen wall to open up the entire area allowing light to flood through creating a more elegant feel. A recessed boxed ceiling surround was added to house down lighters in the lounge to illuminate their magnificent art and antique collection.
Stippled walls throughout were skimmed to a smooth contemporary finish, while all carpets in the living areas were stripped and replaced with a subtle stone-speckled carpet.
What the client said
Hilary, herself an architect, writes: "A very very big thank you from me and my family for the extraordinary effort and spirit of caring that helped make a potentially difficult project one of great joy and creativity ... In a project such as this one where the design is very specialized and tight, (with severe working constraints), everyone was tested and came up trumps!
Every project has its share of unexpected challenges and it is not how many or how few these are, but the ability of the team to find workable solutions to them all. With good communication and the desire to learn from one another, we produced an excellent and happy end result ... For my parents moving from their large family home of 56 years was a huge change in lifestyle and nostalgic wrench, made so much easier by the empathetic attitudes and “after-sales”/ in fact still on-going service of everyone working on this project and especially Sue, who went beyond the expected and became one of the family."