houses, Renovations

8 Renovator's Insider Tips

Toby Murphy


Freelance journalist and blogger Charlotte Olthoff (of Lot Kookt) and founder of One Day Only Maurits Vermeulen bought a Tamboerskloof house back in 2014 that they referred to as a ‘renovator’s dream’. Unkempt and dilapidated, the double-storey pad needed an extensive overhaul, including re-flooring, the re-configuration of rooms and the re-wiring of electricity.

The couple was very hands-on in the refurbishment process and as a result learnt a huge amount about the dos and don'ts of renovating from direct experience. Below they share their insider tips – the sort of points they wish they’d known before – to help others who are about to embark on a similar project.

1. Pinterest is a world of inspiration

Use it to create a style mood board to guide your decisions. If you find a photo of a product online that you want but you’re not sure where the item is available in South Africa, upload the picture to Google Images along with the phrase ‘site: co.za’. Google will provide you with a list of websites with matching images, making it easier to identify the shop that sells the product. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try.

2. Draw up a proper, personal electricity plan

Your architect or builder can guide you, but you should also ask yourself where you most want plugs placed. Under the couch? Under the dining room table? By law you can’t have normal 220V plugs in the bathroom, so think about whether you need to install a special plug for electric toothbrushes and razors. What’s also very handy, and not difficult to do anymore, is to install USB plugs in the places you’re most likely to charge your phone.

CharlotteBathroom The handsome main bathroom in Charlotte and Maurits's renovated home.

3. Do your own sourcing

If you hire an interior designer (this is necessary if you have no idea about things like the correct measurements for cupboards), but you want to save money, source materials yourself. It is time-consuming, but also good fun.

4. Standard isn't mandatory

Remember that you don't have to just go with standard measurements; you can adjust them to suit your needs and lifestyle. For example, if you’re a tall person (or family), have your kitchen counter top fitted to your height.

5. Try all the colours

If you’re trying out paint colours, make sure you bring home a wide array of samples. The colour on the colour chart is often completely different once it’s painted onto the wall and you don’t want to be forced to drive back and forth to the shop.

CharlotteSpareBedroom Inside one of the couple's spare bedrooms.

6. Choose for love, not fashion

Opt for colours that you love rather than colours that are in fashion and will date quickly. You will probably have to live with your choice for years.

7. Get Wi-fi set up properly.

There’s nothing more frustrating than living in a brand new house but struggling to access the Internet in that one toilet or in the corner of the back garden.

8. Don't set limits on your imagination

Remember that anything is possible, even if your builder tells you it’s not. If you’re creative, you may just come up with a solution that your builder has never thought of.

Read about this couple's home and feast your eyes on many more pictures of their beautiful space when our April 2016 issue hits shelves.