Kitchens Readers share their renovation success stories
These readers share the secret ingredients of their stylish – and savvy – renovations.
Andrew and Sonja van Zyl WHERE Roodepoort, Gauteng SIZE 17.6m² Sonja and Andrew used old Oregon pine ceiling boards found at a reclamation yard to clad the kitchen island, and a solid wooden top in African mahogany (lovingly donated and machined by Sonja’s father) finishes the look. Formica square-edge ‘postform’ tops in the colour Saxon Oak have been used on the other cabinets. The pendants were designed and made by Andrew and Sonja for a fraction of the price of similar store-bought ones.
While renovating their impractical kitchen had always been on the cards, the Van Zyls’ plans were set in motion when Sonja was retrenched. That same night, frustrated and angry, she picked up a hammer and had a go at the old-fashioned tiled counters.
Then after receiving an unexpected sum of money from Sonja’s retirement fund, the couple decided to formalise the process and what began as a “let-it-all-out” demolition exercise turned into a fully-fledged makeover.
Andrew and Sonja’s home, which they bought in 2014, is about 25 years old – as were all the fittings! “Armed with extra-large hammers, we demolished the entire kitchen, including the ceiling. And after much debate, we also chopped out the screed floor as the levels were all wrong,” says Sonja. “Adventure kitchening” is how the couple describes the process in which they even mastered the art of handling a jackhammer and a concrete mixer.
Although they did most of the work themselves, the couple got an electrician to reroute and tidy up the original conduits in the new ceiling. Andrew moved the electrical sockets and stove isolator and he did the wiring and installation of the new LED downlights and pendants. He also moved some of the plumbing pipes as the original sink and dishwasher had to be relocated. The Van Zyls’ vision for their new kitchen was clear: “Our home is all about comfort; our dogs and cats are allowed on the furniture and they’re always underfoot in the kitchen. We wanted an open, light atmosphere and this motivated us to expose the roof trusses,” says Sonja.
This turned out to be one of the most challenging aspects of the project. “We literally had no idea how we were going to create the different planes and how the different materials would meet up. In actual fact, just getting the cut-to-size ceiling boards up between the trusses was a challenge in itself,” says Sonja. Luckily, the couple lacks neither motivation nor innovation. “I still don’t know how we managed to support the ceiling boards and screw them in place when it came to the larger sections,” Sonja says. ‘‘Thank heavens for a battery-operated screwdriver!”
Changes and additions were made as they progressed. “The red brick cladding around the window above the counter wasn’t in the original plan and neither were the rustic Oregon pine shelves that house our personal treasures,” says Andrew. “We also didn’t want standard polystyrene cornices and opted for a shadow line profile instead.” >>
A previous kitchen renovation that went horribly wrong – the cupboards were lopsided and literally falling apart – forced Herman and Tiene to make a new plan in their holiday home in Sandbaai.
The house is one of the oldest in the coastal town and has been owned by the Fouries since 1976. Previously owned by missionaries, it boasts its original shuttered sash windows set in thick walls. According to Monica van der Berg, the Fouries’ daughter and co-owner of the vinyl stickers company Hope Vol Hoop, it was important to her parents that they stayed true to the original aesthetic of the area.
“One of the characteristics of the district is blue and white melamine tiles,” says Monica, who was responsible for the new design of the kitchen. “We stuck to a blue and white palette when we renovated to reinforce this look and retained the original blue and white floor tiles.” To round it off, pretty vinyl tiles in the same colour scheme were added to the walls. Running Water vinyl tiles (150 x 150mm) from Hope Vol Hoop adorn the walls (above). They work well on existing tiles but can also be applied on a plastered wall, as long as it’s clean and dry – all you have to do is pull off the backing and stick them in place. If you make a mistake, simply remove them carefully and then reapply.
I t’s hard to believe that the bright and breezy kitchen in this Hout Bay home was once made up of five small rooms: a tiny kitchen, hallway, study, bathroom and laundry room.
Lysbeth and Peter rented the property for five years but when the opportunity to buy it arose, they did just that and embarked on a renovation that would result in a spacious open-plan kitchen and dining room.
To save on costs, Peter, who has been in the construction business for 20 years, and Lysbeth, an avid “junk hunter”, renovated their kitchen themselves in just under two months. They called in a small team of labourers to assist with bigger jobs such as knocking down walls and laying screed floors, but then filled the space with pieces they either made themselves or found in demolition yards, second-hand stores and thrift markets. “As in the rest of our home, almost everything in our kitchen has been recycled or upcycled,” Lysbeth says. These days, the kitchen includes a spacious dining area with stacking doors that lead out into the garden, letting in plenty of light and creating good flow between the indoors and outside. “We live in our kitchen. It’s the perfect indoor-outdoor room. Even the squirrels don’t know where they belong anymore!” Lysbeth says. >>
C ramped, dark and dated!” That’s how the Kotzes describe the original kitchen in the Durbanville home they bought in 2016. Very much ‘on the same page’, the couple dreamed of a spacious and stylish space and this makeover was at the top of their list of priorities.
Felicia and Danie were on a strict budget and set out to do most of the work themselves; luckily, Danie owns his own construction company and is quite the handyman. The first step was to demolish a wall between the old laundry room and kitchen to create a single open-plan space. “Danie did the job himself before we moved in,” Felicia explains. “Then it basically became a building site, so we had to use the flatlet’s kitchen during the renovation – which was rather challenging for parents of a three-week-old baby!”
But it was worth it: nine months later, the two dark rooms had been transformed into a light, airy kitchen. “Our new open-plan kitchen leads into the living and dining areas and has an uplifting effect on the entire space,” Felicia says. >>
As soon as the Trollips received the keys to their first home in May 2014, they started renovating. The living area was begging for some TLC – not to mention the outdated and damaged kitchen! It was so small that you couldn’t even reach the oven without closing one of the interleading doors.
Not afraid to get their hands dirty, Herbert and Marlene put all their furniture – except for a mattress, television and fridge – in storage and jumped right in.
“Every night, we’d carry the mattress in from the garage and sleep on the cement floor in our living room,” says Marlene. “Our pet bunnies, Stoffel and Jangles, slept next to us because they were afraid of the cats in our new neighbourhood.”
The couple juggled the renovation in-between their full-time jobs. “It was quite a challenge. We worked every night until the early hours of the morning,” says Marlene. “Luckily, I married a very hardworking man who was keen to learn and got stuck into most of the physical work himself.
“Apart from the space issue, dated finishes and filthy Novilon floors, the ceiling in the kitchen was also water-damaged,” explains Marlene. Next to the kitchen was a small, impractical stoep that could hardly fit a little table or chairs, so the Trollips decided to knock out the wall leading to it in order to enlarge the kitchen. >>
A few items left to the couple by Andrew’s mother are housed in a special corner.
WHO LIVES HERE? The door to the pantry has been covered in blackboard paint – convenient for lists and messages!
The old counter between the kitchen and dining room was broken out to create more space. All the old cabinets were removed and the plumbing relocated so the room could be better utilised. Before
#3 WHO LIVES HERE? Lysbeth Bijlstra and Peter Annesley WHERE Hout Bay SIZE 50m² Old trusses from a home that was demolished were upcycled to make the dining room table. The kitchen and dining room cupboards were made using affordable plywood for the...
#4 WHO LIVES HERE? Felicia and Danie Kotze and their toddler, Joe (2) WHERE Durbanville SIZE 24m²
In the scullery, the same blue patterned tiles as used in the kitchen were added as a splashback. Tiles from CTM
The Trollips wanted black and white tiles on the kitchen floor but could only find large ones (600 x 600mm), so they had each tile cut into quarters to create the checkered pattern (opposite). #5 WHO LIVES HERE? Herbert and Marlene Trollip and their...