‘ Wooden work­tops made all the dif­fer­ence’

Q&A

Home Renovations - - CONTENTS -

Not only the coun­ter­tops were made of oak, but some of the drawer fronts too. It adds a lovely con­trast to the white MDF drawer fronts and doors used else­where.

Werner and Tanja Sch­nee­berger are no strangers to makeover pro­jects – seven years ago, the cou­ple ren­o­vated an en­tire house in the UK! While Werner takes care of the de­mol­ish­ing and con­struc­tion, Tanja does the sand­ing, paint­ing, fetch­ing and car­ry­ing.

In 2014 they re­turned to South Africa and when they bought their home here – an­other ren­o­va­tor’s dream – they com­pro­mised: Werner would re­vamp the kitchen but the rest of the house would be done by a con­trac­tor, Dar­ling Homes.

“Our pre­vi­ous pro­ject was fun and ex­cit­ing and it taught us a lot, but since then we’ve had kids and this time round we had to con­sider how long it would take and what our dis­com­fort lev­els would be,” ex­plains Tanja.

The con­trac­tor helped them in­stall the new win­dow frames and ex­trac­tor fan in the kitchen, but the rest was Werner’s hand­i­work: he made the coun­ter­tops, the cab­i­nets by the cof­fee sta­tion, the splash­back and the kick­plates, all from oak.

“He also made the draw­ers with white MDF and in­stalled them. It was three months of very hard work, but well worth it!” says Tanja proudly.

Werner, who’s an en­gi­neer, has al­ways been in­ter­ested in car­pen­try and fur­ni­ture de­sign. His brother, Hein­rich, owns a com­pany, Hands on Homes, that builds cab­i­nets and does main­te­nance, and he of­fered to in­stall the new car­casses.

At first, they con­sid­ered in­stalling Cae­sar­stone coun­ter­tops, but that would have been too ex­pen­sive, says Tanja. So they de­cided on wooden work sur­faces that Werner could make him­self. They chose oak – not only be­cause it’s a hard wood but be­cause it’s also af­ford­able and read­ily avail­able. For ex­tra dura­bil­ity the tops were treated with three coats of Woodoc 30.

The kitchen suits their style, which Tanja de­scribes as “sim­ple with a def­i­nite lean­ing to­wards the Scan­di­na­vian way of do­ing things”. For this look the com­bi­na­tion of white pan­els with oak tops is per­fect. >>

with Tanja and Werner

Where did you get your in­spi­ra­tion? Our pal­ette (shades of white and grey with sim­ple fur­ni­ture in beech, ash and oak) makes our home light and cre­ates a peace­ful at­mos­phere. The kitchen is an ex­ten­sion of this. Your kitchen has a Scan­di­na­vian feel thanks to its clean lines. Was this in­ten­tional and is it rel­e­vant in a South African cli­mate? It wasn’t in­ten­tional but sim­plic­ity and func­tion­al­ity are very im­por­tant to us. Re­mem­ber, Mediter­ranean ar­chi­tec­ture – think of Greece – re­lies very heav­ily on white, which works well in South Africa. In terms of func­tion­al­ity, how did you plan your lay­out? We started with the tri­an­gle prin­ci­ple for ef­fi­ciency: most tasks re­volve around the re­frig­er­a­tor, sink and stove, which should be po­si­tioned close to­gether. We also took into ac­count how much space would be needed for pots, pans and gro­ceries, so draw­ers and shelves were a pri­or­ity. We thought care­fully about how to make the best use of the space: where the spice drawer should be; where the com­post bin should be lo­cated; how we would so­cialise around the stove; and where we would make cof­fee and pour drinks. Are wooden slabs durable and how did you treat yours? Yes, oak is wa­ter­re­sis­tant and very hard, so it’s also rel­a­tively heat- and im­pact-re­sis­tant. We var­nished the wood with three coats of Woodoc 30, a sealant for out­door use. So far, it’s worn very well; any care­less knife marks can eas­ily be sanded if nec­es­sary. There are many other types of wood that would work just as well, such as teak, beech or even wal­nut if your bud­get al­lows. Any cost-cut­ting tips? Get quotes, draw up a bud­get and stick to it – oth­er­wise things can quickly get out of hand. Where shouldn’t one cut costs? You won’t save money by us­ing less ex­pen­sive con­trac­tors who end up not know­ing what they’re do­ing.

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