Sunday, November 18

Gems coming out of woodwork

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She dreams up the ideas, and he turns discarded and neglected items into beautiful new realities in a home that speaks of creativity

Restoration is in the hearts of a Monte Vista couple who have created a beautiful and practical home with furniture custom-made to their needs.

Gysbert and Carin Eygelaar love wood, especially unique furniture, and their cosy environment reflect dedication and skill in returning to beauty many pieces which adorn their home.

“I love the way wood feels, its smell. Most of all, I see the potential of pieces of wood, knowing I can create something special,” says Gysbert.

Grandparent’s restored food cupboard. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

From an interest in carpentry at school and the gift of being dexterous, he started working at home as a young man to help him relax after the daily grind. He has not lost his zealousness.

“After marrying Carin, I built kitchen cabinets in our first home and since then have moved on to only making unique pieces. I hate conformity.”

It was the extra-large double garage, today accommodating Gysbert’s workshop, which spurred them to buy their house. But Gysbert, 52, credits Carin for his creative inspiration.

These cupboards next to the fireplace in the television room were restored from a broom cupboard. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

“Together we make a dream team. Carin is the creative mind who dreams up ideas. I am inspired to create reality.”

Their practical, comfortable living space, filled with vintage and rustic pieces, enhance a sense of homeliness and family.

Daughter Jana, 23, does not live at home. Strapping matriculant and rugby-mad Petru, 18, also a creator of amazing furniture from discarded material, (see more next week), leaves home next year. The Eygelaars have Yorkshire terriers Jenna and Pepsi to yap their way into visitors’ hearts.

Staircase leading to a guest room filled with restored treasures. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Few furniture items were acquired as new. Most items were rescued from forgotten piles of junk and from landfills and then restored to original beauty, saving money.

One such piece was Carin’s grandparents’ food cupboard, gathering dust in a room full of junk in an aunt’s house, its original beauty disguised behind layers of paint.

After restoring missing parts and stripping the paint, Gysbert polished the Oregon pine back to gleaming splendour. “It now has pride of place in our dining room, displaying heirloom crockery,” said Carin.

An old wooden kist used as a toolbox was dismantled and turned into a wine cabinet. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

In their sitting room, the Eygelaars have an old piano, a relic from a hotel in Calvinia.

“It was worse for wear. The lid needed tender loving care to erase marks from jovial nights and overflowing beer glasses. If you look closely, you can still see where a candelabra was fitted, and one can imagine its candles flickering on entertainment from a long past era,” she says.

An ancient cupboard made from paraffin crates was found in an uncle’s garage. It held paint tins.

“One could still see the word paraffin imprinted on the wood. Carin declared she wanted it, we hauled it home. The interior was painted to cover damage. The outside was gently sanded to show off its humble origins,” says Gysbert.

The television room in the family home in Monte Vista. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

An old kist, originally a toolbox, was dismantled and turned into a cabinet. Its original paint was left untouched, to produce what Carin describes as a shabby-chic cabinet. It now houses delicate glasses, beautifully combining past and present. “I will never throw wood away. There is always something to be made,” says Gysbert.

His latest projects are a sink found on Gumtree and an old wooden broom cupboard a friend was going to discard. Gysbert dismantled it, then built a pair of custom-made cupboards, which now stand on either side of their lounge fireplace.

A computer programmer, Gysbert’s motto is: “You can’t say can’t until you at least give it a try”. His woodwork is testimony to that.

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