The Illustrated Brief
The Brief...the Story UnfoldsOn first sight of this old coach house, I saw its inherent charm and instantly fell in love with its soul and potential. My client had chosen to experience four full seasons in her new home before contacting me: she was ready to revivify!
We looked closely at what was important to her and how best to enhance her living space. While bearing in mind this was primarily to be a family home, we planned a home that could mature and open itself up for lots of entertaining. I was briefed to work within a tight budget, so we focussed on the immediate concerns. Apart from cosmetic changes that were crying out to be done, we set about an open design to stretch from boundary to boundary to link the kitchen and entertainment areas in a natural flow. A main en suite and scullery were included in the brief ... and key throughout the project was to ensure maximum natural light.
The ChallengesSet at the end of a cul-de-sac below road level cocooned in a lush garden made access tricky: steps and different levels on a small plot made the manoeuvrability of wheel barrows, delivery of materials and mixing tight, but our nimble team worked around this. While the client was fortunate to be able to move out during most of the internal renovation, all her household items stayed behind. Our team worked efficiently around these as each space had to be cleared, covered and carefully placed in other available pockets of the house whilst areas were being demolished and redone. Not an ideal scenario and one that places a large degree of pressure on a contractor as dust, damage and additional security must be managed scrupulously. But with a calm attitude, a supportive client, magnificent weather and good planning we managed to achieve this.
With natural light a central theme to our brief and faced with a low rise dwelling surrounded by tall trees we opted to use translucent roof sheeting in each of the new areas to complement the existing corrugated low-pitched roof in a delightful mix of function, budget and style.
We took great care in the transplanting of plants and shrubs to avoid damage to these fine specimens during the building phase.
Entertainment Area and EntranceOver time the lounge door had become the home’s front door: we wanted to give it more of an 'entrance' and in designing the entertainment extension we allowed for the new roof and columns to connect the two, giving it more of a statement on the exterior, while the interior would enjoy free flow access to open plan dining, kitchen and scullery areas.
The old trellised patio was demolished, enclosed, and extended to the boundary to house a built in braai and work station. New windows and sliding doors replaced the old façade onto the entertainment area while sliding doors into the dining and kitchen area were installed.
The old rotting fascias were removed as we built the new roof over the entertainment area, incorporating translucent sheeting to allow the light to slice in and a marvellous new eco-product, Magna Board, entirely environmentally friendly, for seamless insulation and damp proofing.
The established ‘island style’ garden inspired the ambience we set to achieve, and even gave us the bamboo material used as the ceiling to the new roof! We followed this theme with a new pathway of pebble pavers to the front door – a perfect functional finish to the new look.
The Kitchen as a Living SpaceA separate lounge, kitchen and small dining nook cried out to be combined into an airy, light and spacious open plan living area, while a new scullery extension to the kitchen, suffused with overhead natural light was added.
Ice white custom kitchen cabinetry was installed and counters covered in light flecked grey and taupe granite, while the new stove and hob took centre place with a grey splash back picking up the dove grey tones.
The old front door into the lounge was bricked up to become a mirrored recess bringing the garden in to the living space, where to our delight on removing the tired wall to wall carpet, we discovered a magnificent and beautifully preserved teak herringbone floor!
Preferring the crystal to shine and not the floors, we sanded and sealed the teak with a water based sealant where it proved a perfect complement to the fabulous dark silver oak imported vinyl floor we had chosen for the kitchen and dining area.
We replaced the window onto the patio with sliding doors to create a flow from the new entertainment area through the dining space to the kitchen and new scullery - a homogenous new central core to the home, stretching almost border to border of the property with the neighbours' consent!
A dramatic metamorphosis into a broad, spacious and light living area was achieved to reflect the owner’s personality, the perfect space for displaying her eclectic collection of old and new furnishings and object d’ art.
The Main Bedroom en-SuiteAn en suite to the main bedroom as a personal sanctuary for my client was added, with care to allow natural light to flow through.
A long linear window beneath the transluscent roof was designed to allow the morning sun to burst through onto the natural stone tiles. The concept was to create a combined bathroom and wet room, with careful attention given to the fall and drainage, as the entire floor would be one level and the shower would not be enclosed.
A bath, shower and vanity with mosaic detail all in shades of taupe and white, picked up by the crystal wall lights and reflected in the mirrors added a touch of sparkle to the serenity of this room.
A perfect space to soak away the day, while watching the moon rise.
Decor & Finishing: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...It was exciting seeing the space opening up, presenting a new canvas with opportunities for further change to the interiors: the eclectic theme was to be a combination of old and new. The inspiration for the new glassed recess opposite the front door was to create a reflective wall featuring a selection of mirrors that would be added to over time, capturing the garden while giving the entire space added depth and serenity.
We had fun with the gold baroque style mirror and painted the frame an antique white, repositioning it centre stage above the fireplace and the chandelier (which originally hung in the lounge) was also painted white and given a new home in the main bedroom, which together with the gorgeous crystal wall chandeliers in the bathroom complemented the new crystal doorknobs, fitted to freshen up the old built in cupboards.
Decor & Finishing: Fabrics and TexturesThe client had to part with certain items as there was simply too much clutter, but the most cherished pieces were stylishly reupholstered and repositioned. Working with the rich clarets in the persian carpets as a base, and inspired by our newly introduced greys in the exterior wall and roof coverings, my fabric choices would give new life to previously undefined spaces.
An exciting splash of colour was brought into the study by introducing chartreuse. I loved the antique feel that already existed with the piano and old lamp shade - the shape of the old arm chair redone in the combination of two chartreuse chenilles fabrics just seemed to bring it all together.
Decor & FinishingThe subtle silver greys were picked up in the voil of the curtaining and the lavish red fabric, used to re upholster the period chairs flanking the new entrance to the entertainment area.
The old wicker garden piece was redone in whites and shades of grey. New scatters reflect a hark back to heritage with newsprint inspirations to enhance the colonial/indonesian feel that we were bringing to the entertainment area.
Both styles of lanterns were carefully selected to complement the persians; the old table, the fabrics and bamboo - a tactile connection to a sense of a romantic, bygone era.
Finishing: Colours, Textures and LightOnce we'd chosen to go unashamedly bold for the exterior wall colour, and boxing clever within the budget parameters, I looked at ways of playing with texture on the walls. Opting for a deliberately rough, porridgy plaster surface on both the entrance and braai areas, it helped to create a gorgeous contrast to the flat application of aptly selected 'night jewel' our chosen shade of exterior grey.
Accents of white were brought in on the window frames and columns, further enhancing this warm recessive colour. We used the bamboo growing abundantly in her garden for the centre section of the exterior roofing, whilst tinted sheeting was used on either side allowing dappled light to come through.
Decor & FinishingWe used natural grey stone pavers surrounded by a cobble which continued happily into the newly laid pathway, using white pebbles as an accent colour. And finally ...we wanted the exterior space to have its own voice as an extended lounge and so a magnificent persian was thrown over the pavers, and the old garden table with odd chairs was brought in as a temporary measure to create a relaxed living space, complete with a beautiful view of the mountain.
What the client said
"From the onset of this project I felt that Sue understood and envisaged what I wanted. Throughout the project she was never prepared to compromise on quality or deviate from our vision. Even when I was tired and prepared to let go of an idea simply because it sounded like too much trouble, Sue would persist until we got what was wanted. The teams that were brought into the project were of the highest standard and the work that was delivered of impeccable quality. Well, if it wasn't, Sue would sort them out quickly. The building team was always polite and considerate and tidy. I think that I was one of the luckiest clients as very little went wrong and if it did, was dealt with immediately and without compromise - and we actually managed to keep to the time lines that were promised. Even though it had me in a knot at times, the team never let me down.To summarise, I am extremely happy with the service that was delivered to me by Mint and will use them over & over again whenever I have the opportunity! Thanks again Sue for making this a home that genuinely reflects who I am!"