Photos Henrique Wilding | Styling Marian van Wyk
WHO STAYS HERE? Petro en Fanie Kruger and their cats, Coco and Wolfe
WHERE Observatory, Cape Town
SIZE 125 m²
Like many young couples, Petro and Fanie Kruger were fast outgrowing their small apartment. They wanted a “proper” home, one where they could do whatever their creative hearts desired.But they couldn’t quite afford the house of their dreams just yet, so they decided to buy a fixer-upper, use what cash they had to renovate it and then sell.
The couple found a one-bathroom, two-bedroom home in Observatory, Cape Town – a sad, dilapidated house with lots of small dark rooms, rotten ceilings and a non-existent garden. But here they knew they could make magic.
It’s amazing to see our ideas become a reality. Because of all our hard work, there will always be a part of us in this house. – Petro
Fanie, a project manager, and Petro, a fashion designer, both of whom work in retail, got stuck in, working on their new home during holidays, on weekends and sometimes until late at night after work.
Over two years, the couple slowly transformed the once run-down space and instead of selling as they’d planned, they decided to stay and make a home. Not only that but they also managed to quadruple the property’s price. Impressive!
A clear vision
From the get-go, Fanie and Petro had a plan.
“We knew what we wanted to do the first time we came to view the property!” Petro says.
The couple decided to open up all the small rooms at the back, put in large doors that lead into the backyard and create alight-filled home with an easy flow from the indoors out. On an excursion to Ross Demolition, the Krugers came across two old industrial-style doors which they fell in love with instantly.
“We were inspired by these doors which now lead onto our courtyard; in fact, we designed and decorated our place around them,” Petro explains. The couple hired builders to help with the more challenging tasks, such as breaking down walls to create a more spacious living area with an open-plan kitchen as well as the installation of the doors, the cement floors and a new roof. But once that was all done, they were more than ready to get their hands dirty.
“Our DIY adventure as a couple could begin!”
Amongst other tasks, Petro and Fanie painted the house, inside and out; constructed and fitted new door frames and lighting fixtures; sealed the cement floors; sanded and varnished the wooden floors; fixed up the garden; tiled the front stoep, bathroom and kitchen; and then decorated each room with existing and new furniture they’d either made or bought.
“This project has been our joint hobby for the past two years,” Petro explains. “We love completing a project and seeing the end result, as well as tallying up the amount of money we saved by doing it ourselves. An elderly couple in a hardware store once told us that ‘if you can renovate a bathroom together, you will stay together’ – so I suppose the fact that we managed to renovate theentire house ourselves, and enjoyed the process, says somethingabout our future.”And now their adventure continues with the imminent arrival oftheir first child!“
That’s our next challenge, along with a DIY nursery…”
Q&A with Fanie and Petro
How would you describe your style? We have similar taste (a mix of old and new), which is fortunate. Some of our furniture pieces are old items we inherited (such as the brown leather chairs in the front room, the marble tables next to our bed and our Tretchikoff print) while others were bought at second-hand stores – they all hold memories and that’s what makes our home special. We also have modern pieces, so our house is very eclectic: modern, mid-century and Bohemian.
What do you enjoy most about your home? Previously, we lived in a flat, so we love the fact that we now have our own garden.
What was the biggest challenge? Creating the living wall in the backyard! But then other jobs, such as tiling, were easier than we thought they’d be. We watched a few YouTube videos and it turned out to be quite uncomplicated. After some tips from a friend and watching a few more videos, we were even able to build and fit the kitchen cupboards ourselves. Fanie also installed our security system after we got a laughable quote.