The Simple Things
ANYTHING BUT GLOOMY, A MONOCHROME COLOUR SCHEME CAN MAKE A SMALL SPACE LOOK BIGGER. THIS MODEST APARTMENT IN CAPE TOWN IS PROOF IN BLACK AND WHITE
Put two creative people with big plans in a small space full of potential, and an interesting result is guaranteed. Take Janine Mollentze and Ruan Vermeulen and their one-bedroomed apartment in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town. Janine’s keen eye for interiors has prompted many a friend to ask for her help with décor. An animation director at the company he co-founded, Am I Collective, Ruan is no stranger to design either. The pair were keen to find a small home to renovate and an apartment in an Art Deco block in a suburb of Cape Town fitted the bill.
“We moved in with the idea of renovating, but wanted to live here first before deciding on a plan,” Janine says. The kitchen was their biggest concern: it had tiled white walls, white cabinets and a big brown kitchen island. “It looked terrible,” says Janine. “We didn’t want to spend too much on renovations, but we also didn’t want to compromise on aesthetics.”
The cupboards were replaced with shelves and the tiles got a slick of matt black paint. A simple dado rail was installed to divide the walls into zones of black and white, and an industrial-looking countertop was custom-made by a friend. With admirable discipline, Janine and Ruan stuck to monochrome crockery and accessories. French doors open on to a balcony with views of Table Mountain: little wonder, then, that the kitchen is Janine’s favourite spot.
The open-plan living and dining room continues the monochrome colour scheme, with grey and white walls, a light-grey floor and charcoal corner sofa. “My decorative style can best be described as ‘Scandi vintage’,” Janine says. “I love Scandinavian interiors, which are warm and unassuming. By combining »
contemporary pieces with vintage accessories, I get to have that vintage/modern look.”
The moody grey wall is the focal point of the room, and is hung with artworks, botanical prints by Vicki Thomas and photographs of their travels. An eyecatching pair of 1930s armchairs complement the dining area’s sideboard, inherited from Ruan’s grandfather, while the couple’s collections of desk clocks and cameras sit on generous shelving.
The couple regularly hunts for vintage treasures to add to their collections: “I can’t walk past antique shops or vintage markets,” says Janine, “and I can’t leave without buying something!”
A SPACE OF MANY USES
In the bedroom, the couple transformed a corner into a small office space. The desk and shelving, like the kitchen, are monochrome with wooden accents. Janine got the idea for the wall behind the bed from Pinterest: “We had to scour every second-hand bookshop to find vintage world atlases,” she says. The bathroom had similar white tiles to the kitchen, which also swiftly disappeared under a fresh layer of grey paint. House plants trail from the ceiling, adding colour, and mirrors were strategically placed to give the illusion of more space and to add character.
The secret of decorating a compact space, says Janine, is to choose furnishings and decorative elements that offer maximum functionality: “When you live in a small space, each room tends to have more than one use. Built-in storage nooks also help you utilise every corner.” With the couple planning to open the loft to add more rooms, this unassuming little flat is still full of surprises waiting to happen.