Hazy Days

the shadow of the life to come

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Kitchen Renovation Fun

This is for Laura (who asked especially Winking smile)

For a very long time, we’ve wanted to live in Bergvliet area – mostly because the kids’ extra murals are all there and we end up driving over the bridge a hundred times a day.  To be able to live close by and not battle traffic would be bliss.  But, prices are a good R500k-R1mil more expensive for a much worse house.  So, for now, we’ve decided to get our own house up to sell-standard while we wait.  The future is so not certain financially and otherwise, so while we have a little bit of wriggle room in the bond, we felt that it would be wise to upgrade now.  It’s a “practice this thing called ‘renovations’ on this house, in case we ever HAVE to do it elsewhere”. Turns out that with a great builder, it’s really not nearly as much of a headache as people say.

Speaking of builders, I HAVE to recommend ours.  Jeremy Louw and his team did an excellent job.  Jeremy was fairly priced.  He bent over backwards to accommodate us.  He hunted down bargains. All while speaking gently to his staff, who all clearly love working for him.  I would hire him again in a heartbeat and have already recommended him to all and sundry.  Oh – and his “after workmanship” is superb too.  We had a electrical tripping problem about a month after they were done when we were running the tumble-dryer as well as a bunch of other things.  I dropped him a “not sure if this is cos of the building, but…” sms.  Well, shortly after that he was at our door with Benny the friendly electrician.  They spotted the problem (too many circuits on one breaker), fixed it and waved a cheery goodbye.  No cost.  Wow.  That’s service!  So, yes, again – I unreservedly recommend Jeremy!  Our bathroom guys were great.  Really great.  But, Jeremy is in a league of his own.

Now, assuming you’ve not run off to book Jeremy for your own work, it’s on to what we actually ended up doing.

The BEFORE – as in, still living in it and things are really messy:  



The BEFORE (Stripped) – as in everything removed except the carcuses – all ready for demolition.  Mwahahahah.


The photo above is taken with my back to the photo below.  Nice handy doorway to the laundry area (soon to be scullery area).


Everything is rather crazy at this point…


DURING: Demolition 101:

No more scullery/laundry area – but gross, check out the black mould.  Weww.


Day one was remove all the cupboards etc. 



Day 2 was knock out the kitchen walls.  Just about all of them! (Note: the kids and I moved to my folks’ house in Hermanus for this first week, where we blissfully enjoyed school mornings and swimming afternoons.  It was quite lovely and NOT dusty, a huge bonus.  Craig, on the other hand, had to stay in town to work.  So he came home to this each night and took photos of the progress,)



Chasing work…  Now here is a good time to give you another great Jeremy Story.  He kept me up-to-date with the progress each day through phone calls.  One mid-morning he called and said, ‘I’m afraid that I have a bit of bad news.”

Now, who wants to hear that from their builder?  Well, long story short.  It turns out that his guys had forgot to check that all the internal doors were closed before they turned on their grinder.  So, a fine layer of dust was covering our main bedroom.  As in, everything.  Jeremy was quite upset about the whole thing.  He informed me that he’d spoken to his guys and that they would clean up as best as they could and then club together to pay Johanna extra when she came the next day. 

In retrospect, I was quite happy about the bad news, because it was a pretty good indication of the integrity of the guys on the job.  That’s some pretty impressive service.  And Craig spoke of being quite impressed with the clean up job the guys did every night.  See?  Can’t stop singing his praises.  (It helps that both my friends Renette and Ingrid also sang his praises when they did work on their homes the previous year – referral referral!) 


Of course, dust is still everywhere and I am GLAD we weren’t there for that first week.




Bye bye walls and hello ceiling gap!


Bye bye ceiling gap!






And… cupboards!  This was done by Rock on Wood.  We had a small hiccup or two, but nothing that wasn’t sorted out pronto.  Thanks to Colin and his team from Rock on Wood, we had an AWESOME design and all these little extras that Colin insisted I had to have.  His refrain was “Taryn, you need joy in your life!” – “joy” being soft-closing drawers, for example.  He made it all fit into our budget – that was pretty amazing in itself.




The scullery taking shape – my favourite cupboard is the corner cupboard that Colin designed for me.  It fits EVERYTHING in it – vacuum, brooms, large laundry basket and all sorts of other paraphernalia.  It’s an awesome cupboard.




Deciding on flooring – we almost went with the light one on the left… but ended up going with the one next to it.


Our painter did a marvelous job – and even entertained my mad notion of making a chalkboard wall – Google told me that I could create my own chalkboard with any colour paint.  1 cup of paint to 2 tbsp of tile grout and voila – you have a chalkboard!


Next – time for the flooring guys.  More on that in this post: Top Carpet Constantiaberg


Putting it in …


And, finally – the finished product!


This renovation was much like the bathrooms – I had a big picture in my mind but the rest kind of evolved in the moment as and when we found stuff.  So, I knew the layout and that I wanted off-white cupboards.  I didn’t want the popular modern, long brushed-steel handles.  They’re lovely, but I wanted something more cottagey.

The Colours:

Our original kitchen was green.  I loved it.  And after contemplating the entire paint-colour palette on every wall in Builder’s Warehouse, I settled back on – green.  Because a) I still love it and b) Craig really liked it too.  But, we chose to keep some of the kitchen and lounge the “greige” I’d mixed from, you guessed it, “grey” and “beige”. 

The Scullery-cum-laundry-cum-ironing room…


The Brick:

When trying to decide on splash-backs, I knew I wanted tiles.  Rather than glass or painted wall or granite.  But, the tiles I found when I searched the entire Tile Mile down were, well, blergh.  I couldn’t find anything I liked enough to want to put it on my wall.  There were some black slate-y type of tiles that Craig and I kinda liked.  Also, the “subway” tile looked quite nice.  But then, in Kales Natural Stone (GREAT place with great prices, by the way) I found a sheet of tiny brick mosaics.  And that’s what sparked the brick tile idea.  But, the tiny bricks looked a bit dumb.  Never-the-less, I took them home, along with the other iffy samples we had and swung the idea by Craig.  Bricks?  Really? He was not convinced.  I was totally convinced.  It was all in my head by then.  But he needed some visuals.  Enter: Houzz (oh, I could spend hours there – such inspirational ideas!).  Type in what you’re looking for and reams and reams of ideas pop up.  I found two beautiful examples of what I had in my mind and Craig went from “what?! no!” to “hmmm, maybe”.  By the time we found proper brick tile samples, he was convinced.  And, the next thing I knew, he was ready to put it all OVER the house!  Starting with the fireplace.  Thankfully, we stopped there as I wasn’t too keen on having it everywhere else.  And thankfully he had that idea, because it really looks awesome!


I love, love LOVE the farm-house-meets-modern-day feel.  If I had my way, I would’ve gone MUCH more rustic, but Craig’s a fitted-kitchen kinda guy and loves all things sleek, smooth and not-rustic.  So, our kitchen is the perfect compromise of both our tastes. (we had plans for a pull-out bin, but, ah-hem, binned those ideas when we chose to have more cupboard space instead – so for now we use this ol’ plastic bin.  It works!)


Mr Price is a winner store for all things décor – both dressy and functional.  I picked up this little birdcage hook from there – love it!



The main kitchen:

We went with the brick splash back here too.  I love how authentic it looks, despite it actually being a resin brick tile that’s about 7mm thick.  Expertly laid by Jeremy’s foreman, Tony.



Space, glorious space! 


We originally had planned for the microwave to go up in the section above where it is sitting in this picture (below).  But, I’m totally over the whole “kids climb onto stools to get to the microwave” thing and chose to keep it at their eye level instead.  It works well, and now I keep recipe books (haha – hardly used, aside from the baking ones!) and our little ipod docking station/speaker goodie there.


We used Rustenberg granite for all the countertops and then strand-woven bamboo for the island.  The island.  Oh, I love the island!  It’s bigger than I pictured or particularly wanted, but it’s been absolutely fabulous!  We’ve loved using it and it’s been especially awesome for our Wednesday night meals with our bible study group. 


I spent quite a bit of time trying to hunt down new bar stools.  But, man, they’re expensive.  And mostly plasticky grossness.  So, I figured it would be cheaper, easier and more immediate if we just painted up our old stools. 

Old stools:


“new” stools:



I sanded them down a bit after our painter painted them up – giving them that shabby chic look.  They’re already battered and a bit grey-ish on top, but it all kinda melds with the look and I love them!


I finally have functional herbs on my window sill and I’ve managed to use them too – AND add a few more pots to the mix.



Next up – the lounge (see photos below):

Looking from the kitchen to the lounge.  There is the brick-cladded fireplace area.  The funny thing is that every second person who walks into our house says, “oh! I didn’t know you had a fireplace!”  or “did you always have a fireplace?”

The other funny thing is that the walls there are green too.  Craig certainly got into his decorating and once he had suggested the brick cladding, he was off suggesting feature walls of green (lounge – to tie into the kitchen) and red (in the dining room).  So, we painted the one wall green.  And then, I suggested painting the wall with the windows etc green too, to give some balance to the fireplace.  I like it a lot.


We still have to put some photos or art work or something on this blank wall.  Not sure what at this stage…


Craig’s folks gave us the Henri de Rand painting on the wall many years ago.  I’ve always loved that style and that composition.  My folks have a Gabriel De Jong that is a similar composition and I used to love staring at it as a child, imaging the stories hidden in the painting.  But, this painting’s frame wasn’t working for me.  I wish I was brave enough to remove the frame completely and go raw canvas on the wall, but I’m not that brave yet.  So instead, I painted the frame white:


You can see the white frame in this photo below – not a great photo, but it really does look so much better. 


This photo below was taken for the cabinet we had made for the back of the couch.  One of my bug bears is couch backs that look scruffy.  And ours looked scruffy.  My other bug bear is kids climbing over the couch and leaving dirty feet marks everywhere.  So, this was the perfect solution.  I cannot claim any originality, however – this exact unit is a copy of my friend, Debbie’s.  I’ve long-admired it and asked her if she wouldn’t mind if I copied it.  Thankfully, she’s one of those friends who sees that as a compliment and said, “of course!” Russ from Ruba.co.za did a fabulous job of it.  Thanks Russ!


To compare – the couch before the unit arrived:


This little unit used to sit in our dining room.  It was all 1970s, brown and badly scuffed.  So, yes, we painted it up.  Lots of painting happening here!


Our dining room – not quite complete, but getting there: our chalkboard got some action just before Craig and Kerry arrived:


We had our corner bookshelf repainted – white on the outside and green on the inside.  It looks lovely! I used the bottom two shelves for “on hand” school things and the rest of the shelves for special crockery and such.  Can you tell I don’t have tiny kids any more?



Right – there are dozens of other photos and angles, but it is now past 10pm and time to head to sleep. 

Last word – we are very grateful to be able to do this renovation.  It’s been a ten-year-long dream to renovate the kitchen and bathrooms.  Then it became a bit of a necessity as our cupboards were swollen, broken and falling apart, as was the counter-top in the scullery – shedding chunks of chipboard everywhere on a regular basis.  For most of those years, we’ve been in no place to consider even a teeny tiny facelift.  Which makes this all the more exciting.  But, none-the-less, we recognise that it’s a huge blessing to be able to do something like this.  So we are grateful.  It’s been a fun, creative process and, mostly, not too stressful, as far as building projects go.   


Vinyl Flooring – Top Carpet Constantiaberg Success Story!

Visiting overseas family and some major renovation explains the gaps of blogging silence over here.  But life is slowly trickling back into normal and with it some writing time for me.  And what better way to start than with a review of some pretty awesome stuff that went on with our recent kitchen renovation?

Review of: Wanabi Wood Vinyl Flooring, fitted by Top Carpets Constantiaberg

When we decided to take the plunge and renovate our kitchen, removing walls and creating large gaps in the flooring, we realised that a complete reflooring was probably on the cards too.  Well, thank goodness for our bathroom renovations late last year, because it was a no-brainer: we would go vinyl.

Vinyl?  Yes, vinyl.  As in the same stuff as mama’s 80s Novilon floors, but then, so not the same.  No plastic-y floral patterns. No curling edges or stain-easy sections. Nope.  Instead we get beautiful wood-like flooring that is warm underfoot, stain-resistant, waterproof and did I say beautiful?

We did our bathrooms using sheet vinyl and it came out beautifully (please excuse the shaky panoramic photos).



And so we figured that it would be the perfect product for the rest of the house.  Top Carpets Constantiaberg did our bathrooms and since they gave us such a good deal we chose to use them again for the kitchen.  Peter Ruthenberg, owner, is a great salesman: helpful, friendly, bend-over-backwards kind of guy.  He brought us loads of samples (this time of plank vinyl which is slightly harder and more durable than the sheet vinyl), stopped by a few times while we decided on colours and styles and always made sure we were happy.  We ummed and ahhed for ages, settling finally on Craig’s favourite from the batch: rustic wood.

Then, it was d-day.  Always a little nerve-wracking for the home owner when sensitive work needs to be done!  But these four guys have around 100 years experience together!  (From left to right) Alex Dearham, Tersis Olyn, Thomas Mill and John Dearham did a fantastic job with cheerful attitudes.  Alex even worked late redoing some screed work, thanks to our cat who decided to leave a trail of paw prints behind in the freshly-screeded dining room.



These guys managed to turn this:


into this:


They did all the heavy lifting and moving of furniture:


To ensure a smooth finish, they screeded the floor carefully with self-leveling screed.  If 1x cat walks across the wet screeding, however, expect a do-over the next day!


Then, after screeding came a very careful, thorough and fine sanding job done with a stone.  This creates a ton of dust, but every day the guys swept up beautifully.  Thanks guys!


All the cutting happened outside:


And they even answered our kids’ thousands of questions and didn’t mind the rug rats getting underfoot.


4 days later, here we have the dining room floors…  tell me, doesn’t it look beautiful!  And the workmanship was really really very well done.  Not a bubble, mis-cut or wonky flooring piece to be seen.  Just smooth lines and lovely floors.


And for the sneak peeks around the house – some different angles of the flooring.






Thanks to the incredible work of our building (Jeremy Louw), kitchen (Rock on Wood) and flooring (Top Carpets Constantiaberg) teams, we went from this:




To this:


Thanks guys!

If you’re interested in finding out more about Top Carpets, speak to Peter Ruthenberg of Top Carpets Constantiaberg.  Our floors worked out at about R220/sm all inclusive (labour, materials and flooring).  The brand is Wanabi Wood, colour: rustic wood.


Disclaimer: We received a small discount on this job when we offered to review the process..  This post is my honest assessment of the work done and the final product.  Lots of thanks and gratitude to Peter Ruthenberg and his team for a job well done!

Bathroom #2 Redo

bathroom reno

When we bought our house 10 years ago, we fell in love with the trailing morning glory on the pergalo and the sweet little wooden playhouse outside.  We loved the space, the open planning and the number of rooms.  What we didn’t fall in love with were the bathrooms.  They were clean and neat, but dated and showing some wear and tear.  10 years on and the wear and tear was threatening large bills in the form of cracked cisterns and peeling ceilings.  So we were so very glad when our budget finally allowed us some renovation space.  We started with the kids’ bathroom (see Kids Bathroom Renovation) and then, after a two week break, started in on our bathroom.  What was to take 3 weeks took almost 5 thanks to the shoddy building work of the original extensions – we had falling down internal walls and crumbling plaster to deal with!  But, Ladder and Chisel did a superb job and we now get to enjoy a beautiful bathroom. And here’s the proof of the transformation:

Before (as in the day before the demolition of the old bathroom)…


that’s our shower floor in the photo below – believe it or not, it’s actually clean as a whistle.  That’s permanent staining.  Yes.  Ew.


Mildew build-up on the sagging ceiling, peeling paint on the floor…


hideous pink tiles on the walls…


honestly, just gross…




gross, gross, gross…


that’s our leaky toilet there… I wasn’t kidding about the gross factor…



Demolition time!




Finally!  AFTER:

Like the kids’ bathroom, I wanted something shabby chic with a Victorian-Modern edge to it.  Craig was more partial to grey, so I tried to incorporate a grey-beige colour using mosiac travertine tiles and beigey-grey wall paint. 



Once again, we sourced our bathroom furniture from Ruby’s Cottage – I found the cupboard above the toilet a few months before we started our renovations and I bought it with the view to put it exactly where it now is – but before I had any other ideas and before asking Craig!  But, it has worked out beautifully.


One of my favourite pieces in our bathroom was the conversion of this old kitchen dresser:


into this beautiful bathroom dresser:


Ruby’s Cottage did it up for me all shabby chic, replacing the glass doors with mirror glass, adding some tongue-in-groove boards in places and separating the top section from the bottom section with an added shelf.  Unfortunately, when it first arrived, the shelf covered over the taps.  But Ian, owner of Ruby’s, kindly came to our house and jigsawed a curved cut-out that our painter then touched up, creating a beautiful final piece.



Once it was all completed, it was just a matter of a few finishing touches, like these photo frames:


I think that they’re a bit too fussy, so I’m not convinced they were the best idea, but I love the little cameos of our family taken from a photo shoot by Susie Leblond in April 2013.


I so loved using these handles in the kids’ bathroom that I just had to use them again in ours.  So beautiful…


Mr Price has been kind to me and my tastes lately – the heart and towel hooks and towels particularly:



Oh, and this cute little spice box that really belongs in a kitchen but looks so nice on my window sill!


My mom’s friend, Jenny Book, makes beautiful pottery.  This is one of her pieces.  Love it.


More beautiful pottery, this time from my mom-in-law – so pretty.


More angles:


Our builder (Jerome from Ladder and Chisel) retrofitted our drawers for us, providing space for the basin in the unit, but still allowing us the use of the drawers.  Love that!  Thanks Jerome!



This panoramic shot from my phone includes the floors – we went with stick-on sheet vinyl again.  Cheaper than most flooring options and yet so beautiful and WARM underfoot.  It looks like wood and goes so beautifully with our bathroom.  It’s finally a pleasure to use this bathroom!



Sonlight Giveaway $25!

It’s getting to that time of year again when we homeschooling parents start thinking about next year.  What do we want to do with our kids?  What programmes should we try?  Curricula?

Well, as most of everyone knows by now, we love Sonlight.  It is the programme that got us homeschooling in the first place and one of the reasons we keep homeschooling.  Sonlight is a huge part of what inspired me to write my first novel, Seekers of the Lost Boyand has been the backbone of our homeschooling experience for the last 7 years.

Along with the celebrations of my book, I thought it would be awesome to celebrate Sonlight’s role by sharing the love! (keep reading…)SeekersSonlight giveaway

So here’s the deal.  I’m giving away a $20 gift voucher to Sonlight.com.  The contest is open to ANYONE in the world who opens a new account with Sonlight.  Together with Sonlight’s $5 discount for all new accounts with a first purchase of $50 or more, you could have a total of $25 off your first purchase!

To enter, follow these steps:

  1. Head to sonlight.com and sign up for a new account.  In the “referred by a friend?” section paste this code: TH20169508 (this automatically earns you $5 off your first purchase of $50 or more, whether or not you win this giveaway)
  2. Once you’ve done this, then head back here and fill in the form below.  By filling out the Rafflecopter form below (can’t see it?  You can also find it here: http://bit.ly/18jsFqS)  you’ll gain one entry into the competition.  Filling out the form unlocks other entry options, so make sure you do it!
  3. Share the love with your friends by clicking on the sharing icons below!
  4. AND if you want the opportunity to win 1 of 3 Kindle versions of Seekers of the Lost Boy, then click here for more giveaway fun: http://tarynhayes.com/giveaway-seekers-on-kindle/

Competition is open until the end of July 2013!  All the best, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Seekers Cover (5)PS – for all those new to this website and my book, Seekers of the Lost Boy, here’s the skinny: Seekers is a youth novel that follows a young homeschooling family on an incredible journey.  It begins on Muizenberg beach in Cape Town when 12-year-old Simon finds a message in a bottle at the water’s edge.  It contains a letter written by another 12-year-old boy, Joseph, from 30 years ago.  The letter intrigues Simon and his siblings, twins Nic and Kim, so they set out to find Joseph.  Their journey takes them into their country’s apartheid past, focusing on forced removals from District Six and causes the family to answer a few unexpected questions.  Read more about it on my website: http://tarynhayes.com or on Amazon

Sonlight Curriculum

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