renovation, houses

Renovation: Before & After House #2 Liezl Fischer and Nicola Redelinghuys

Thanks to a savvy structural renovation, this Victorian house in Cape Town’s Green Point has been converted into a high-functioning family home.

Elsa Young/Frank Features

Renovations | House and Leisure

When interior designer Etienne Hanekom was tasked with the renovation of a Victorian semi-detached house in Cape Town, he was both thrilled and daunted. ‘The privilege of having discerning clients open to a contemporary update was not lost on me,’ he says, ‘however the challenge of transforming a small space into a family home while meeting an exacting brief was a big ask.

The renovation called for a functional yet elegant, contemporary home with ample storage, generous flow and a calm simplicity of space. But Hanekom needn’t have worried, because his metamorphosis of the house is nothing short of miraculous, reflecting his renowned creative flair and ability to source the best craftspeople for the job.

Renovations | House and Leisure

It also helped that homeowners Liezl Fischer and Nicola Redelinghuys, who bought the house over a decade ago, knew exactly what they wanted. ‘We lived here for a few years before moving abroad, and had long wanted to reorganise the awkward spaces and modernise the house,’ says Nicola. The original was an upstairs-downstairs semi with three small bedrooms on the upper floor and a living, dining and kitchen area on the lower level. ‘The living areas were separated by a solid floor-to-ceiling staircase that cut through its centre, and the back courtyard led off a split-level kitchen and dining area that was accessed via steep stairs.’ says Liezl. ‘It just wasn’t conducive to easy entertaining.

For all the homeowners’ personally recommended renovation contacts, see the Before & After Black Book.

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Carrying out a renovation while they lived abroad was not an option for the couple, so they rented out the house. However, with the arrival of their twin sons in 2012, they made frequent trips back home to visit family and friends. And, after renting in the city for a while, they decided to take the renovation leap.

The project was something of a personal mission for the couple, who wanted to prove that the charming original features of their house could be retained while making it into a homely yet modern, hard-working space. 'We opened up the downstairs areas and created functional spaces,’ says Liezl. ‘The kitchen area was gutted and refitted with a wall of cupboards that conceal all storage, prep counters, and the fridge and freezer.’ Every kitchen item was allocated a space so that there were no storage surprises when they moved in. This meticulous approach extended to the materials, which were chosen to be durable and classic.

The overall canvas is light and calm, with ample daylight thanks to the addition of skylights above the stairwell. ‘It helped that Liezl, Nicola and I are all Virgos,’ laughs Hanekom. ‘So while the attention to detail may have been terrifying at times for the builder, carpenter and various contractors, the results speak for themselves.

ALSO READ: all the other Before & After House and Room renovation finalists.

To place your vote in the Readers’ Renovation awards, click here.