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Dining Room Décor Fun

I’ve been wanting to do some fun things with our dining room in terms of décor.  When we did all the renovations, there were still areas that I wanted to decorate in some way or another.  We’ve added a few wall photos / pictures in the lounge and so on, but nothing too exciting. Mostly, I’ve wanted to do something with our dining room and the big blank wall in the lounge.  Well, the lounge wall is still blank. But at least now I have some ideas ready for the Craig-approval list.  Smile

But, finally, I’ve done some dining room décor – it’s still far from finished and I’m not entirely convinced about everything I’ve done, but here’s the progress so far.

I decided to start chalking weekly quotes on our red chalkboard wall.  We do Bible verses regularly anyway, so I thought it would be good to introduce some excellent quotes from theologians, historians, philosophers, writers etc that are worth remembering.  This week we have Jim Elliot’s quote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  Last week we had CS Lewis’s, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”


That wall now sports a map, quote and some blank frames in which I’ve currently done three quick doodles.  I have thoughts to put special mementos in each frame.  Still thinking through that one.  I would like to put a distressed shelving unit up where the map currently is – still thinking through that one too.  We may keep the wall map on our dining table under a plastic tablecloth for future – I love maps and I love how many discussions happen around them. 


On the adjacent wall, I decided to pop an old book in a frame.  That wall is often half covered with a door, so I put the frame up only where the wall is always visible.  The old book is a book of poetry that belonged, I think, to my dad at some point.  It’s falling apart, but it’s filled with beautiful Christian poetry.  If I am really with it, I will take it out every now and again and change the page Smile



One of my frustrations with the dining room space is balancing practicality with style.  I want it to be a beautiful space, but it also has to work for homeschooling.  So, eventually, this was born: clipboards that can be functional if necessary, but also decorative.  And a pinboard that’s beautiful, but practical too. 


The hearts I’ve had for a little while – thank you Mr Price.  The clipboards were lying around the house.  I just painted them with a mixture of blackboard paint and grey cashmere.  The result is grey blackboard paint!  Voila! Love it.  I found this beautiful floral paper – a perfect backdrop for the hearts. 


The pinboard is just that soft board one can get at a local hardware store.  Mine is 1m x 1.2m and R140 ($14).  The fabric is a beautiful soft grey fabric with a light floral pattern that I got for R55/m ($5.50/m).  Staplegun, plus fabric, plus soft board = pinboard!  Very easy.


The map I found online and printed out at our local copy shop for R30.  I will probably get another one made that’s laminated too so that we can use it actively.


While I had all the paint and stuff out, I painted a few other things with chalkboard paint – like this breadbin (pictured after a light sand).


It was a wedding present and served us well as a bread bin, a storage unit and well, a storage unit.  Now we need a bread bin again, but it didn’t suit our kitchen décor.  So, here we go – a new bread bin.  Not so sure I like the “bread” writing – I’ve recently changed it and may change it again.  Beauty of chalkboard!


That’s it so far – until the next burst of inspiration (and funds)!

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!

A Room Redo or Two

(ETA: photo quality not so hot!)

It started with a display cabinet.  One minute our playroom-cum-schoolroom-cum-storage room looked like this:



And the next, it looked like this:


Why?  Well, Craig’s folks decided to move house.  And in their downsizing, they gifted us with a beautiful piece of furniture that holds enormous amount of sentimental value to Craig.  In trying to decide where it should go, we realised that we would have to do some serious juggling around of rooms to make it fit.  Eventually, we decided to combine the playroom, school supplies and TV room into a proper second reception room.  We moved the piano into this room too and painted the shelving white and the walls blue.  That then freed up space (where the piano had been) in the main lounge for the display cabinet.  It also meant that the girls could finally have their OWN rooms, as the old TV room was freed up for Katie to move into.  Of course, there was some juggling around there too. But finally the girls ended up with freshly painted rooms to suit their tastes.

But before we could tackle their rooms, we (I) had the unenviable job of unpacking thousands (literally) of books off the shelves so our painter could prime and paint the shelving…


Gavin, the painter, did a superb job of painting and then, after a couple of weeks with a holiday in the middle, it was time for the girls and I to repack everything back onto the shelves…




Almost done!


But not before hubby and our awesome friend, Rus, had to move our enormous couch from the TV room…


It was not easy!


Especially when they had to navigate this:


Our trusty piano – the last time it is to be in this spot.  A few days later it too found its way to the new tv/playroom.


And voila – here we have it.  With spill-over chairs from the dining room in the meantime…



We’ve rearranged these shelves a few times over and have finally got a good space for all the maths manipulatives, shapes and other goodies essential for our school mornings.  But we did replace our green plastic file boxes (see below) with …


These plastic ones (see below) – they’re larger, which I LOVE – the others were threatening to shatter shards of plastic all over the place, so stuffed with books they were.  They’re also transparent, which makes it a whole lot easier to see the pencil tub and any errant erasers at the bottom of the case.  They’re also hard-wearing, but lightweight and cheap at only R28 a box!


Who would’ve thought that it would work so well?  We are loving having the TV here.  We spend far more time in the playroom now.  The kids’ piano practise doesn’t drive me dilly anymore, as it’s not reverberating throughout the entire house thanks to the echoey main room it used to reside in.  We spend more time doing school things in the playroom now.  The TV is so easy to use for Maths DVDs and everything is on hand, whereas before I had things split between TV-room, dining room (where we do most of our seatwork) and playroom.  The kids are even reading more, if that is at all possible.  The rocking chair and poofy couch make for comfy reading corners and often I find the kids in their absorbed in a book.  And, calling them for morning bible time during the week is not nearly as huge a task as it was last year as 9 times out of 10, they’re already in there! 

Hurray for the Hayes Snrs and the Display Cabinet that got us motivated to do this (at the relatively little expense of some paint, curtains and a fair bit of sweat!)


Kiera’s Room

The playroom redo meant that Kiera and Katie got to have separate bedrooms.  After enduring years of Kiera begging to have it happen, we weren’t surprised when the news was well-received!  The deal was that, since we were losing the sleeper couch for guests in the playroom, we’d make up for it with a queen bed in Kiera’s room.  She would have to vacate when visitors came and bunk with Katie.  Well, Kiera was keen to agree to just about anything if it meant her own room!


Craig’s folks gave us their old queen bed – thanks to their downsizing.  Kiera had to keep their old bedding and decor, as per agreement and she got to have some of our old bedding to cover the queen duvet.  The only thing new that she got was a fresh coat of paint. Namely, white paint for the furniture that used to live in the playroom (that’s my old desk from when I was 10!) and a colour or two of her choice for the walls.  Well, let’s just say that her room is BLUE … very, very blue.  But she is thrilled thrilled thrilled!  And that makes it all worth it.




Katie’s Room

Katie chose the old TV room so that she could be closer to us.  That meant that she got the girls’ old bedroom furniture and their twin/bunk beds.  We had promised them when we redid their room earlier in 2013 that if they ever got separate rooms, Katie got to have the new bedding as she really wanted pink and since Kiera was having none of that, she got to keep the non-pink stuff. 

So, pink shopping it was!  We finally found a beautiful pink bedding set that wasn’t too little girly for Katie.  The catch was that it only came in a queen size set.  Turned out that it wasn’t a catch at all, as I just had to cut it down the middle and sew two duvet covers from the one, and because it was a queen we scored two pillow cases: perfect for our needs.  And it worked out cheaper than two singles.  Yay for savings! 


We found awesome curtains at Mr Price, voile with pink embroidered butterflies.  We had a double track curtain rail, so the spare set of cream curtains we had went behind with the voile at the front.  Beautiful!  Gavin painted the walls grey – the grey shade came out a little bluey-purple, but in such a way that it complemented the room perfectly. 


Gracie quickly figured out how to get up to the top bunk and it is now her new favourite sleeping spot in the house.


Katie was thrilled with how well her baby photo matched her room:


Katie spotted this stick-on wall mural at Builder’s Warehouse and begged for it.  Since it was just R90 and we had the budget for it, it now graces her wall.


Her teddies are kept safe and neat in a toy hammock just like the boys’ one. Since coming across that idea, it’s become one of my favourite bedroom organising ideas. 



Katie scored herself a pinboard too.  The fabric was ridiculously cheap at R18/m. 


This little box from Mr Price was a Christmas gift from her aunty and uncle.  Perfect!


And her trusty hobby horse (tutorial here) looks on rather forlornly from the end of her bed.IMG_9078


Under her bed for now = blow up mattresses and bedding for certain young cousins who get to share her bedroom in March.  We can’t wait! 


And that ends our big room redos!  At the beginning of 2013, we never would’ve dreamed of all the renovations and redos we’ve ended up doing to our house, but here we are in the middle of a kitchen renovation and with two bathrooms renovations complete too.  More on the “why”s when the kitchen is complete!

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