READER’S RENOVATION #7
AN EXTENSIVE REMODEL HAS TURNED AN OLD MILNERTON HOUSE INTO A HANDSOME HOME THAT MAXIMISES LIGHT AND SPACE
An extensive Cape Town remodel was achieved thanks to an expert balance of responsibilities
‘Ijust went with my gut feeling,’ says architect and interior designer Hanno de Swardt of Onnah Design when asked why he and his partner Nico Furstner chose a tired 1970s-style residence in Milnerton, Cape Town, to be their first shared home. ‘When you’ve been looking for so long, you know exactly what you want, so you can tell straight away when you’ve found it.’ Both living in central Cape Town at the time, the couple were drawn to the generous size of the property (big enough for a garden and pool), and its relative affordability – a benefit of its location being 20km outside the CBD.
The fact that the L-shaped house was sturdy, but old – a prime renovation project – also appealed, and the two started alterations almost immediately. The first target was a third bedroom, which they separated from the house and converted into a tiny self-contained cottage. It was here that the couple lived while the rest of the home was renovated – an arrangement that, while taxing, allowed them to be hands-on throughout the process. ‘I did the layout and design, and Nico was the project manager and budget keeper,’ says Hanno. ‘It was the perfect balance of responsibilities.’
Being so involved was strenuous but rewarding, and the pair had some fun along the way, too. Case in point: they marked the start of renovations to the main structure with a house-wrecking party. ‘We invited friends over, gave them hammers and hard hats, and we all took turns knocking down walls,’ recalls Hanno.
Removing inner divisions was a significant part of the brief. ‘We wanted the whole space to read as one to make us feel like we can breathe easily on many levels,’ Hanno says. In line with this vision, the enclosed kitchen was made open plan and integrated with the dining room and lounge. Other changes were centred on making the house’s interior appear grander, broader and longer – a feat achieved by raising the height of doorways, replacing carpets with a continuous screed finish and substituting poky windows for expansive glass sliding doors. The transformation was also aimed at bringing the property’s dated interior into the 21st century. A mix of furniture from the pair’s former lives gives the home a lived-in authenticity, while patterned tiling, graphic scatter cushions and bold artworks tie together an
aesthetic that’s both considered and contemporary. An off-white and grey palette also does much to lift and rejuvenate the interiors. ‘The house was originally butternut yellow,’ says Hanno, ‘but I’ve always liked the calm tones adopted by many Atlantic Seaboard homes, so we brought a bit of Bantry Bay sexiness to Milnerton.’
The only rooms that break with this neutral scheme are the main bedroom and its en suite bathroom. The couple’s desire for the latter to be ‘dark and mysterious’ is expressed in inky grey tiles, a black free-standing bath, marble-topped vanity and wall-to-wall mirror. And in the bedroom, an abstract wallpaper mediates between this dramatic scene and the greens of the waterwise garden outside.
This natural flow from inside to out and within the walls of the house lends itself to an easy lifestyle, underpinned by a warm sense of home. ‘It’s a happy space,’ says Hanno, adding with a smile, ‘I used to be a city sort, but now I never want to leave the suburbs.’ Find this home’s renovation specialists’ details in the Black Book on page 124 and online at houseandleisure.co.za
THIS PAGE A PHOTOGRAPH BY HANNO DE SWARDT IS ON PROUD DISPLAY IN THE LIVING ROOM OF THE HOME THAT HE SHARES WITH HIS PARTNER NICO FURSTNER IN MILNERTON, CAPE TOWN. THE FIREPLACE IS AN ORIGINAL FEATURE OF THE PROPERTY THAT WAS GIVEN A NEW LEASE ON LIFE WITH A COAT OF WHITE PAINT AND NEW TILES AT ITS BASE, WHILE THE ARMCHAIR WAS BOUGHT AT A SECOND-HAND SHOP AND REUPHOLSTERED IN MUSTARD FABRIC. A LARGE RUG FROM HAUS BY HERTEX (HERTEXHAUS.CO.ZA) ECHOES THE GEOMETRIC SHAPES AND GREY TONES PRESENT ELSEWHERE IN THE ROOM.