I love a good story...

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And the one on page 52 about how the Van Zyls got a new kitchen is cur­rently at the top of my list of the best sto­ries we’ve pub­lished in Home.

Con­sider this: you’ve been re­trenched from work and that night, in shock and frustration, you grab a ham­mer and start de­mol­ish­ing your tired old kitchen – to purge all those pent-up emo­tions! I don’t know all the de­tails, but I wish I’d been a fly on the wall when Sonja van Zyl ar­rived home that evening. Did any­one try to stop her? Gosh, was any­one even at home or was it a huge, dusty sur­prise when they even­tu­ally saw her hand­i­work?

This whole sce­nario put a smile on my face. Per­haps be­cause such over­whelm­ing emo­tion is some­thing to which we can all re­late. And ev­ery­one re­acts dif­fer­ently. I re­mem­ber a col­league from my days spent work­ing at a news­pa­per who would start paint­ing her lips bright red at about 9pm when the pa­per was be­ing “put to bed” – that time of the day when every­thing has to be done and dusted. It was a kind of rit­ual: the more stress she was un­der dur­ing those last few min­utes be­fore the news­pa­per was sent to the printer, the more de­lib­er­ately she would red­den her lips with lip­stick. To en­sure she looked her best for the Big Mo­ment.

Although things are look­ing up for us in South Africa, it’s not all plain sail­ing – and I’m sur­prised that there aren’t more peo­ple with new kitchens (and red lips). Be­cause the econ­omy is tak­ing strain and lay­offs are, un­for­tu­nately, still a re­al­ity. If there was a di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween ren­o­va­tion projects and na­tional lev­els of frustration, we’d prob­a­bly all be knee-deep in build­ing rub­ble!

A new kitchen is of­ten at the top of a home­owner’s wish­list. But it’s a huge ex­pense – un­less you’re pre­pared to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in like the five cou­ples in our kitchen fea­ture did. Four of the kitchens were en­tries in last year’s Fix it with Flair com­pe­ti­tion; we de­lib­er­ately set them aside to fea­ture in this is­sue be­cause each one of them man­aged to achieve mir­a­cles in terms of costs. If you’re on a tight bud­get but still have big dreams, I hope this ar­ti­cle will pro­vide all the bril­liant cost-cut­ting ideas you need.

And how won­der­ful that we’re once again able to run the ‘Mile­stone He­roes’ com­pe­ti­tion. Two lucky read­ers will have their kitchens re­designed by the owner of Mile­stone Kitchens, Sil­via Miles, and one even more for­tu­nate reader will re­ceive kitchen units to the value of R50 000! Last year, we were in­un­dated with let­ters from read­ers telling us why they felt they should be the lucky win­ners. Here’s your chance – come on, tell us your story! Check out all the de­tails on page 74.

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