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Breaking the Egg

This year feels lighter somehow. People seem more optimistic and hopeful. If I compare how the year has started to last year at the same time there is a sense of new things to come and exploration of opportunity.

I have been led to such interesting places and people in these first few weeks; from a building first registered in 1843 to modern spaces needing a facelift, all of which excites me.

People and spaces go together like carrots and peas

It fascinates me how a home and people go together, how a space truly enhances how you live and so often what is happening in our lives is reflected in our space. Sometimes changing something around  in the physical has the power to shift something inside of us, helping us move forward in unexpected ways.

I thoroughly enjoyed transforming my space at the end of last year. I have over the last two and a half years of being in our home, re-imagined every nook and cranny, and finally we opted to start with our outside area and worked our way into the first floor.

You can’t stop what must come

It didn’t start out this way. The beginning was very hard for me. I honestly didn’t expect my reaction. The previous owners of the house, who have become friends, planted these gorgeous strelitizias behind the pool. Over the years they grew to a maginificent height that hides the neighbours roof and they truly brought a gorgeous tropical feel to the garden and pool, which I just loved.

Sadly, the roots of the strelitizias began to damage the pool and the mosaics were coming off. The space was looking a little shabby and was really bothering JH, but I couldn’t let go of our beautiful strelitizias. It wasn’t even a conversation I was prepared to have with him. I just couldn’t bear to pull them out. I simply changed the subject and towards the end, when I realised that they would have to go, I just cried. I think my man thought I was losing the plot (I probably was) but he just left me to figure it out on my own, knowing that eventually I would see reason.

Facing reality

So, the day came. I was hoping to salvage some of the plants, but it was impossible to get them out of that tight space. It took three full days to get them out. A three cubic metre skip was just filled with the roots alone. It made complete sense why these plants were causing so much damage. It was all very logical, but it felt so wrong taking them out. 

I went out that morning knowing the landscapers had arrived to remove them. I did not expect to feel like I did when I returned. I walked through the gate of the garden. The entire space felt empty. I looked at the plants lying next to the pool and I just wept. I was so very sad. In that moment, I could not imagine anything in its place. I felt like I had  lost something precious.

Getting stuck

My unexpected emotional reaction to the plants initially impacted my enjoyment of the renovation. I was stuck in the memory of what was, unable to move myself into the present and visualise the future of the space. My aloe plants growing close by even got plant cancer. They were even traumatised. It all felt terribly grim.

I had to make a conscious effort to focus on the project and the deliverables as we were pushing to meet the deadline of a photoshoot booked with SA Homeowners, as well as the builders holidays were looming. One action at a time, one decision at a time inching forward. Reminding myself every inch of the way that things could only get better.

Keep moving forward

Slowly it started to come together. The aged turquoise tiles, the colour of the pool which we did in a rich Knysna blue, the new garapa deck, the striped awning combined with a long glass table on oak legs, bright yellow patio chairs (of course) and a new daybed. I added outdoor fabric in gorgeous organic and botanical patterns in a rich mustard, browns and greens to bring the scheme together. 

Amidst this, I had to tackle the landscaping which I had been avoiding. I had spoken to the landscaper several times and just wasn’t happy with where we were landing. I was looking for a way to replace the height of the strelitizias and my budget kept blowing up.

Unexpected treasures

I decided to leave it for a while and focused on other things. The beautiful marble feature in the entertainment area and refurbishing my rosewood cupboard. It was during this time that we made the most astounding discovery. As we were removing the mirror in the front door we found Greek newspapers from 1931. The cupboard was an authentic antique. 

I was so excited about the history of the cupboard and felt a flutter of excitement which spurred me on to bring this piece back to life. I added a false back which I then wallpapered in a glorious embroidered wallpaper, painted the inside of the remainder of the cupboard in gold, and added glass rails to the top turning it into a decadent cocktail cabinet.

Finding my groove

I then wallpapered the backdrop behind the cupboard so that the cupboard popped off the back. It was in this moment really enjoying what I did again that I began to visualise the garden and what it should be. I wanted a high living wall that would become a backdrop to the structural aloes in the front. 

The garden behind the turquoise tiled pool water feature would add both a sense of lush greenery, scent and structure to accentuate the detail of the pool. The gazebo to the side doused in outside fairy lights and newly refurbished daybed would finish it all off.

Making an omelette

I called the landscaper and within days we had the plants picked, the trellis built and painted that would become the new home of creeping star jasmine that will eventually cover the wall to create a living wall.

When it was all done, JH and I sat in the new outside space enjoying the outcome of the work and how it felt to be in that space. He said to me, “What do you think? Was I right.” I beamed back, “Yes, absolutely, it feels like our space now, and it is more beautiful than I imagined.” He simply smiled and said, “Sometimes, you have to break an egg to make an omelette. Just never forget the omelette always tastes better than the egg.”


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