Saturday, April 20

Renovation romance

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A 50m² unloved Cape Town apartment has been transformed into a bright, warm and welcoming home

I loved the creative process of converting an unloved, neglected one-bedroom flat into a beautiful, warm and homely apartment. Just because it is a small space does not mean it can’t feel luxurious and homely.

Usually I prefer to live in an apartment for a while to get a good feel for the space before I renovate. This time, I knew there was no way I would be able to stay in the flat before starting the renovation. The space was depressing, run down, outdated and just ugly.

Renovation industry is doing well in Cape Town

Due to financial constraints, I knew I would not be able to do everything at once, so I had to be creative to make it liveable without causing sleepless nights.

While I was waiting for the transfer of the property to go through, my estate agent agreed to go with me to the apartment (it was empty) so I could take measurements and spend time in the space. The body corporate provided me with a floor plan, which helped me with planning.

The kitchen and bathroom needed to be completely gutted and two walls had to be knocked down to open up the space. The good thing about such a small space is that you do not need a lot to make it feel liveable.

Originally the bedroom was in the middle, with the kitchen and bathroom to the right and sitting room to the left. As you entered the front door, you found yourself in a dark corridor, looking straight into a wall (part of the bedroom). Knocking down this wall opened up the space, letting in lots of natural light. The lost space taken up by the corridor was now part of the new sitting room. The wall between the bedroom and kitchen was knocked down to create an open-plan living area. Because the walls are no longer hemming in the space, the kitchen and sitting room feel significantly more spacious.

I did the renovation in several phases (as funds allowed). The first phase was knocking down the walls, renovating the bathroom and doing a basic renovation of the kitchen.

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The kitchen is tiny and it took me well over a year to decide on the final layout. I was looking for a design that would not shout “small kitchen”. I wanted maximum storage space while incorporating all the necessary appliances. I enlisted the help of a designer to draw up plans, incorporating my ideas.

When I got the plans, I put these up in the kitchen and lived with them for a few weeks. Even though she did a great job, incorporating all my ideas, there was something that didn’t feel right about the designs. Every time I looked at them, I could not picture myself living with this kitchen.

One day I was paging through a brochure and saw the kitchen island idea. I knew this is what I wanted.

Decor items have been carefully chosen. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency

The money spent on the designer was well spent. Without her drawings, I probably would have realised the layout doesn’t work for me once all the cupboards were fitted and I had spent my hard-earned money.

I love the black cupboard doors, giving the kitchen a more dramatic look. They make a big impact in a small space. To keep visual clutter to a minimum, I choose an integrated fridge (hidden behind cupboards to blend in). Fitted cupboards on the walls would have made the space feel cramped and claustrophobic. I had a serious kitchen purge to let go of items that were not needed.

Once the wall between the kitchen and original bedroom was removed, the space serving as the entrance to the kitchen could be incorporated as a mini-storeroom, housing the washing machine and geyser, and providing extra storage space.

The bathroom is also tiny, so I decided to stay with the black and white theme. I choose a hanging cabinet underneath the hand basin, instead of a built-in cupboard.

This creates the illusion of a bigger floor space.The floor tiles take it from small bathroom to pretty bathroom.


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