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Couple transformed dilapidated house into a special family home

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A talented couple says a lot of love and hard work went into turning this Zeekoevlei property into something special

Standing in their kitchen with beaming smiles, and surrounded by homely smells of freshly baked scones, Simone Visagie-Davids and Anwar Davids agree: “The best part of our home is that we made it ours. It’s so different from when we bought it. A lot of love and hard work has gone into making it special.”

Simone, with a background in architecture and interior design, always knew she and her husband would either build their own home, or renovate a house in need of TLC to create their perfect family home.

When the house in Zeekoevlei changed owners and fell into disrepair, the couple put in an offer, even though it was not for sale.

When inspecting the house, which had many small rooms, they saw the potential – sufficient space for a growing family.

Their design style was inspired by a combination of the raw textures of concrete and wood and a calm, monotone interior palette.

Simone, mother of two-year-old Noah, drew on her years of experience in retail design, in which she creates wonderful shopping experiences for customers, to create a haven. She describes Zeekoevlei as “a quiet neighbourhood near a bird sanctuary, allowing us beautiful ‘wild pets’ of our own all year round”.

Anwar’s brother lives across the road, so they knew the property before they bought it. “A happy buzz always came from it.”

That, combined with their love of open spaces, formed a basis for the design and layout of their renovations.

As any parent of a lively two-year-old boy will understand, clutter is kept to a minimum and areas are left open to allow him free movement. Instead of cupboards in her son’s room, old product bins from Anwar’s work were painted with chalkboard paint and repurposed to store Noah’s toys and clothes.

A mural in the nursery adds interest. Picture: Simone Visagie-Davids

The walls are painted up to hip height with chalkboard paint so their child can unleash his creative side. A monotone palette gives Noah’s toys a chance to shine. The end result is a child-friendly, playful home in an otherwise adult house.

At the heart of this warm and inviting family home is the kitchen, which is Simone’s favourite area – a space where family and friends spend time. The couple’s biggest indulgence was their kitchen appliances and cabinetry. A combination of Kiaat, stone and fresh white paint was used.

“My dad, Andre Visagie, is the best carpenter around. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to construct our masterpiece” says Simone.

She asked her dad to use C-grade Kiaat to show off its natural grain, and this beautifully complements the home’s monotone colour palette.

Open-plan kitchen and living area. Picture: Simone Visagie-Davids

Simone was able to tap into connections made through work for unique and modern brackets and light fittings. A family heirloom – a cupboard previously stained a dark wood colour – was repainted and now provides food storage space. Hessian curtains in the kitchen and bathrooms blend in beautifully.

The house is testimony to the owners’ labour of love, but it didn’t come without challenges. Simone and Anwar took on the mammoth task of renovating the house while juggling demanding day jobs.

Anwar is director of Demron Organics, a company that develops beauty products.

“Renovating a house is tough,” says Simone. “You never know what bad cracks you will find. The biggest challenge is to correctly assess the building and structural work, such as outer walls, roof tiles or sheeting, inner roof structure and openings. House and building insurers do not assess these things. It’s vital to check for structural damage, leaks, bad roofs or leaky pipes.”

The bathroom hessian curtain blends in beautifully. Picture: Simone Visagie-Davids

Simone would write notes in chalk on the walls for the builders, leaving instructions for what needed doing. As the builders finished something, they would draw a line through it to indicate the job complete, and Simone could wipe it off before writing new instructions.

She recommends drawing up a budget and ensuring one is financially on track all the time. “Renovations doesn’t come cheap.”

To stretch their budget, the couple were not afraid to get their hands dirty by doing a significant amount of work themselves. They knocked down walls, laid floors and, with the help of Boeta Hakkie and Uncle Eddy, did their own plumbing.

The DIY job Simone is most proud of is their bedroom floors. They were refurbished by Anwar, and Simone laid them while five months’ pregnant. The wooden floors create a warm feel. Simone continued the corridor floor into the main bedroom at a diagonal to create a continuous flow from the rest of the house.

“Not all renovations are complete, but we have made our home comfortable, sunny and cosy. It’s our happy space. Friends and family love spending time here. Noah loves making the house his race track, while we relax with a movie or cup of coffee,” says Simone.

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