Don't Move, Improve!

Home South Africa|August 2020

Don't Move, Improve!
Bought as an investment after a cheeky offer, a small run-down apartment was turned into a stylish space where the owners could put down roots.
Marian van Wyk

All in proportion Homeowner and interior designer Wouter le Roux shares his top tips for small spaces:

Lightweight furniture Opt for chairs you can ‘see through’, a sofa on legs and multi-purpose or modular pieces like nesting and over-the-sofa tables.

Add height with a tall floor lamp, plants and floor-to-ceiling doors.

More light is better Choose finishes that reflect natural light, such as flooring in a light colour or glass doors as partitions. Thanks to dimmer switches – even in the bathroom and under counters – you can create the mood you want, whether hosting a cocktail party or getting stuck into a craft project. But never mix atmospheric and task lighting!

Create storage Be sure to include clever storage solutions, especially for the five ‘horrors’ of a small apartment: the mop, vacuum cleaner, ironing board, rubbish bin and large suitcases.

One in, one out If you buy new shoes, an existing pair must be donated to your local shelter – there’s no room for Imelda Marcos aspirations here! The same goes for homeware and kitchenware.

Dark colours If cleverly used, these can create the illusion of greater space and a luxe atmosphere, but the key is to break up the palette with bold accent colours, light tones, white borders and contrast.

Plug points Pay a little extra and install a cluster of electrical sockets and USBs on either side of your couch. There should be at least one cluster in every corner of a room. This way, you avoid ugly and inconvenient extension cables.

Be bold Take a few risks! Interior design should be fun and reflect your personality – you can always change the look again. Repainting or recovering something in five or 10 years isn’t going to break the bank – but do go for quality when it comes to permanent finishes.

Peeling Novilon, a dated kitchen, a run-down bathroom and wall-to-wall chocolate-brown carpets made Wouter le Roux very happy when he first viewed this apartment in Wynberg’s vibey Chelsea Village. Others saw trouble, he saw an opportunity.

“The flat had a simple yet functional layout,” explains Wouter of Hello Charlie Interior Design Studio. The bedroom and bathroom were separated from the living areas, so there was no need to demolish walls. Another bonus was an abundance of natural light, thanks to existing large windows.

When Wouter and his partner Brendon Foster bought the apartment in November 2018, the intention was to rent it out permanently; however, those plans quickly changed.

Brendon explains: “The penny dropped when we realised we could get a very good rental income from our bigger Rosebank apartment, where we were living at the time.”

A month later, Wouter and Brendon were living in the unrenovated flat, stippled chocolate walls and all. Wouter knows the value of familiarizing oneself with a space before making changes; this way, he could plan the renovation down to the finest details, like where the vacuum cleaner would be stashed when the dust had settled.


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August 2020