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Before And After: A Drab Cape Town Interior Becomes A Warm And Cosy Cottage

When Cape Town based wedding photographers Bruce and Rebecca first acquired the charmingly named Sunbird cottage in 2016, the interior was drab, dark and dated (like what I did there with the 'd's?). Working with a relatively small budget, the pair scoured the market for second hand and overstocked items and carried out a huge amount of the renovation work themselves. The one investment they make was employing the services of architect Donne Atkinson - which was tantamount to realising their vision. Other than that, Bruce project managed the build and once the main construction was completed, he carried out a lot of the finished himself with the help of friends. Needless to say, the overall finish is warm, cosy and personal. I hope you enjoy the before and after pictures as much as I did!

How lovely is this parquet worktop? It's making me question my choice of marble for the cottage kitchen renovation. I love the patina!

This corner is so lovely and personal. And look at all those CDs! We still have a load in one of our cupboards too - they hold so many memories. Have you saved yours? 

Opening up the ceiling has helped flood the space with light and added a load of character. I also love the faded kilim. 

In a relatively small space (the ground floor is 70 metres square / 753 square foot) spiral staircases are a great option. I also like how a series of shelves on the upper level shield the bedroom from view. 

The pair added the round window which has become a wonderful focal point above the bed. 

Wow! Such a wonderful transformation. They have given the cottage a whole new lease of life. It can certainly bear the name 'sunbird cottage' with pride now, don't you think?

Is there anything that stood out to you?  

If you're into renovation work as much as I am, you can always explore the archives for more before and afters and home makeovers this weekend (as always, if this home pops up first just scroll past!). 

I hope you have a wonderful couple of days - see you Monday friends!



Photography: Sarah and Bruce - shared with kind permission and found via Miss Moss with thanks. 

PS Thank you so much for all your input into my summer cottage kitchen plans yesterday, really appreciate it. It's not too late to weigh in! 

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My Summer Cottage Kitchen Renovation: Floorplan and Design

*In paid partnership with Bosch:
Quite a lot has happened in the last three weeks with the summer cottage kitchen renovation. I have spent the last couple of weeks measuring and sketching and now I think I may have arrived at a design direction - hurrah! Thank you so much for all your input - it's been invaluable! As you know, our little cottage is located in a small fishing village on the West coast of Sweden. The sea is a gentle grey-blue and I'm keen for the kitchen to reflect this. I'm therefore thinking about a soft, muted light grey or pale green palette blended with white and warm wood.

I've narrowed my search down to IKEA VEDDINGE cabinets (seen in the picture above) since I like the sleekness  - they feel less fussy for a small space and easy to clean 8as one of you pointed out on Facebook - thank you!).

As with any room that employs light colours and a clean look, I'm aware I'll need to add plenty of warm touches. I'm thinking accents of natural wood (hooks, chopping boards, stool etc), stone and tarnished brass.


I took my scribbled measurements and pictures of our L shaped kitchen along to the IKEA kitchen design centre (you just book online and then rock up at the given time slot) - and lo and behold the designer happened to be an old friend I hung out with when I was on maternity leave (Jess) - who also happens to have great taste! Malmö's a small place and sometimes it totally pays off! This is the floor plan we arrived at:

I would love to do away with the upper cabinets for a really fresh, up-to-date look - but the kitchen is way too small and we have way too much stuff (even after a Marie Kondo style declutter!). Sadly, I'm not sure a lot of open shelving is an option either since we are not at the cottage enough and the items would just collect dust - what do you think? I've left wall space to the right of the sink just in case!
All of the lower cabinets are drawers since they can be fully extended which makes them a more practical option than cupboards.

One of the beauties of selecting an IKEA kitchen is that Bosch appliances are a seamless fit (I am keen to use these in the cottage kitchen as we've always had them at home and I'm a firm believer in opting for reliable, good quality appliances that last). The oven and induction hob will be placed under an integrated fan (I love 'open' fans' but need to capitalise on storage). The dishwasher will be seamlessly hidden behind 'number 6' in the layout and the fridge-freezer will be built-in behind the cabinet door in position 11.

I hope you like these ideas. The plan is only preliminary so please do weigh in if you have any thoughts / advice - I'm all ears!
Even though there's a whole load of work ahead, this renovation is starting to feel real now and I'm getting SO excited. Weeeeee! 


Photography credit for main picture: Mikael Lundblad

*This series is in paid collaboration with Bosch. However, all words and pictures are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. 

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10 Ways To Transform a Room With A Single Painting!

I love reading your comments - it adds so much to the post and more often than not someone will point out something I haven't noticed and I'll look a the home tour from a new perspective. Yesterday,  for example, someone pointed out that there was no art on the walls - and it was in no means meant as a negative - more an observation that a home without art can also be interesting.  So today, I thought I would go to the opposite extreme and take a look at how a single painting can transform a space. When I was writing my first book, Modern Pastoral, the photographer James Gardiner and I captured a beautiful home in the Hudson Valley designed by Jersey Ice-cream Company. One of the things I noticed about the work of Tara Mangini & Percy Bright is how they apply art (mainly portraits, but also landscapes and still life) to bring the look together. Here are ten fine examples:

I found this fascinating, how about you?

Did you have a favourite?

It has totally spurred me on to look out for more original art for my walls. These are often good sources: 

Flea markets
Charity shops

Do you have any other suggestions on where to source original portrait paintings? Perhaps some wonderful, modern artists?

I'm going to need to be careful though - there was a painting in my childhood home of my great, great, great grandfather who was an Admiral. My Mother used to have to cover it up with a sheet at night because my sisters and I were so afraid of it! There was something about the way his eyes followed you around the room. Did you have any paintings like that in your home? 


Photography courtesy of Jersey Ice-cream Company  / some credited to Beth Kirby
Affiliate links marked with *

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Fifty Shades of White In a Beautiful Swedish Home

If everyone else goes right, go left (so the motivational quote goes). And as current interior trends entice us to add more colour to our homes - there's one lady who has stuck fast to her passion. You might recall Malin Nilsson's beautiful home in Råå, on the South West of Sweden from a Christmas post back in 2016. And I was excited to see from her aptly named instagram feed VittVittVitt ('white white white), that her home still pays homage to her favourite shade. It's a minimalist look that requires attention to detail and a love for texture - and Malin has it in spades, you just need to look closely!

Above: Stoff Nagel candleholder, Bertoia chair*, Chunky knit blanket*

The walls and ceilings have been painted in 0500 by Flügger. The woodwork (doors, skirting boards etc) has been painted in 0502 (also Flügger) to breath life and depth into the overall look.

Texture in the form of shag-pile, metallics (how fabulous are these chairs?!), velvet and rattan help to heighten the visual impact of the space in a subtle yet cosy way.

Vintage chairs from Johansson Design mode Vinga, Gubi semi pendant*

The flowers add instant colour to the space and have also been arrange in a fairly relaxed, 'wild' way which brings softness to the room.   

So, what do you think? Does it stop your colour-dabbed paint brush in its tracks?  

It certainly makes me realise that white will always be 'right', even if I might just add a little more colour to my own home here and there this year. 

For the colour fiends out there: this archive

Have a lovely day!


PS I have the worst cold today so if I've made any errors / I've used words that are a bit off it's because everything is a little hazy today! Any great remedies out there?! 

Photography: Malin Nilsson shared with kind permission
Affiliate links marked with *

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