Home Renovations - - House -

Their dream had al­ways been to buy an ‘empty shell’ of a house and then put their own stamp on it, says Laeti­tia Brits. At the end of De­cem­ber 2014 this dream be­came a re­al­ity when Laeti­tia and her hus­band Shaun bought their first home. “We de­cided to start off the new year with a bang!”

Tick­ing them off on his fin­gers, Shaun lists the num­ber of rooms the house had be­fore they started de­mol­ish­ing and re­build­ing: “It had a liv­ing room, en­trance hall, din­ing room, kitchen, one bed­room, two mul­ti­pur­pose rooms, a small bath­room and one large room di­vided in two by means of shut­ters – and in the one cor­ner it had a shower.”

But, says Laeti­tia, de­spite the weird col­lec­tion of rooms and awk­ward flow, there was so much po­ten­tial. They con­sulted an ar­chi­tect and struc­tural en­gi­neer for ad­vice on how to max­imise the space – and then con­struc­tion started in earnest. “We added a hall­way, which di­vided the large room into two bed­rooms. Some walls were newly built, oth­ers de­mol­ished and the old fire­place re-opened to pro­vide warmth for the cold win­ter nights.”

To­day their home has three bed­rooms, a study and two bath­rooms.

A slight set­back

The Brits’s ren­o­va­tion be­gan in May 2015 and wasn’t with­out its chal­lenges.

“If I knew then what I know to­day, I would have run for the hills,” grins Laeti­tia. Shaun agrees: “It was, and will al­ways be, hard work to ren­o­vate a house on such a huge scale.”

Barely six months af­ter they started their project, the cou­ple clashed with their builder so they de­cided to go their sep­a­rate ways. Hes­i­tant to trust some­one new in their home, they de­cided to tackle the mam­moth task them­selves.

“Ini­tially the house was prac­ti­cally un­live­able. We slept on the floor and ‘bathed’ in the kitchen. On week­ends and in the evenings af­ter work we painted walls, ceil­ings, door frames, win­dowsills and cor­nices, in­stalled and var­nished skirt­ings, hung cur­tain rails, took on the roles of plumber and elec­tri­cian, ap­plied grout­ing and cleaned up in­ces­santly.”

The pair soon dis­cov­ered they were far more ca­pa­ble than they orig­i­nally thought. “Shaun amazed me,” says Laeti­tia. “I al­ways knew he was handy but not on the scale that our project re­quired! These days I hire him out to fam­ily and friends be­cause he’s such an ex­pert,” she adds with a wink.

She says most of her in­spi­ra­tion comes from Pinterest but also from mag­a­zines – and of course “win­dow shop­ping” in stores. “We’ve even been in­spired to make our own fur­ni­ture, lights and dé­cor ac­ces­sories,” she says, nam­ing all the projects they’ve com­pleted: lights and ce­ment cof­fee ta­bles, as well as a few head­boards made from re­cy­cled shut­ters.

“There’s not a lot left of the old house, but we did keep some el­e­ments. The kitchen cab­i­nets were bright­ened up with red paint and the wooden slid­ing doors in the hall­way re­ceived a new coat of var­nish,” ex­plains Laeti­tia. “It’s now a comfy fam­ily home and we love liv­ing in it!” >>

1The cup­board was re­moved – this is now a hall­way – and the car­pets re­placed with tiles. This room also re­ceived a new door, a fresh coat of paint and new cor­nices and skirt­ing boards.

The shut­ters on the black wall are also a pair that were al­ready in the house; they form an eye-catch­ing fo­cal point com­bined with Laeti­tia’s col­lec­tion of plates.

The pal­let head­board was bought at Ar­ty­choke, a fur­ni­ture and dé­cor store in Bethal, Mpumalanga, as was the crate which serves as a bed­side ta­ble – the cou­ple sim­ply added the un­usual legs from Stan­rio Pipe and Steel.

A com­bi­na­tion of black and white tiles – square and hexag­o­nal – make a style state­ment in the shower. The vinyl de­cal on the shower door was cus­tom made by Hemel & Aarde Dekor.

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