Watch: Mastering the Art of the Victorian Dream Cottage

Watch: Mastering the Art of the Victorian Dream Cottage

A characterful Victorian cottage on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard is ushered into the 21st century.

Karl Rogers

The dream of owning a charming Victorian property on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard is one of the reasons why owners Niel Barnard and Lize Viljoen fell for this fixer-upper – and why they put in an offer on a whim. ‘We could see the potential in it and were excited when we found out that the original staircase was intact, but had been covered with a new one to accommodate the needs of the previous homeowner, who was elderly,’ says Lize.

A furniture buyer for a homestore brand, Lize wanted to infuse the original vintage charisma of the cottage with modern finishes. Her ‘old meets new’ vision was based on opening up the layout, and she added black metal doors leading outdoors that contrast well with the crisp, white walls. Natural tones, wood and wicker, and rich brass detailing help soften the drama of the monochrome blueprint. ‘I had a few heirloom pieces, such as my grandmother’s dining table, that I incorporated to give the house an eclectic feel,’ says Lize.

Niel and Lize changed the footprint of the house completely.

Scroll down for lize's top five renovation tips



1. Get at least three references for the builder that you intend to use to check the quality of their work, how easy they were to deal with and whether they adhered to previous time constraints.

2. If you are planning on building a room around a specific material, such as granite on your kitchen countertops, first make sure that you can afford said material and that it can be sourced locally, then check how long it will take to be delivered. Some materials can take eight weeks or longer to order, and if you can’t locate or afford what you initially wanted, it can throw out your whole design.

3. Add 20-30% on top of your budget for unforeseen work. Our builders underestimated the electrical work on our old Victorian lady, and ended up having to rewire the entire house. Unexpected things can pop up, so rather budget for that extra expenditure.

4. All additional work that needs to be done should be put in writing by your builder and agreed upon so you can see how it fits into your budget and whether you can afford to do it.

5. Be on site as often as possible. It helps you keep on top of things  and be more reactive to any decision that needs to be made.