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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Hidden treasure in Woodstock: What a beautiful original oregon pine heritage door!

Hidden treasure in Woodstock: What a beautiful original oregon pine heritage door!

Renovating our 100 year old house means we need to restore it back to its original heritage look. But what exactly is that?

Especially in a neighbourhood like Cape Town’s Woodstock, a hub of craftsmanship, you see a lot of alterations to the buildings. And, as a traditionally ‘grey’ area, with the mix of cultures every house is unique, adding to the eclectic ‘Woodstock look’, an inspiring variety of styles and colours.

So when it came to deciding on a new – old entrance door, I took pictures of front doors in Woodstock I like.

It was pretty quickly clear the heritage door Woodstrippers had offered us is a great match. 🙂


The front of the house is being opened up and remodelled to accommodate the new - old heritage window. This is how the facade is meant to look like!

The front of the house is being opened up and remodelled to accommodate the new – old heritage window. This is how the facade is meant to look like!


Now that we have an adequate front window, we can continue with the restoration of the facade.

To accommodate the new – old heritage window, the front wall needs to be broken open to its original structure.

What a difference it makes to change from a wide to a tall window. Excited to see the house is taking shape! 🙂

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Success! We found a beautifully restored Oregon Pine Heritage Sash Window! :)

Window shopping the literal way: Finally we found a beautifully restored Heritage Sash Window! 🙂

Buying a heritage house (all buildings over 60 years old) means anything you touch must be restored to its original.

Unfortunately a lot of the heritage components of our house got lost and brutally replaced with some ill-fitting windows, doors and flooring.

So now that we are renovating, we need to find original victorian windows and doors. Where do you get 100 year old windows and doors from?

We were lucky with these businesses who were able to help us:

Tique specialises in the architectural salvage and restoration of wooden fixtures from the Cape Dutch and Victorian eras – doors, windows and shutters in particular.

Strippers has vast expertise in restoring hand-carved furniture, revitalising the expert workmanship of religious statues, as well as restoring large solid wooden gates, doors and windows.

Ross Demolition‘s salvage warehouses offer exceptional-quality window frames, doors, flooring, lintels, kitchen counters and other treasures salvaged from homes around the country.

You can also go on a bargain hunt yourself and check out the City of Cape Town’s 24 recycling and waste drop-off sitesOne man’s trash is another man’s treasure. 🙂

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Seeing double: For security reasons, we can only go ahead demolishing the old entrance once the new entrance is properly finished.

Seeing double: For security reasons, we can only go ahead demolishing the old entrance once the new entrance is properly finished.

The idea is to move the current entrance forward and open up the first room – the old living room – to turn it into an office.

For security reasons it is easiest to first build the new entrance and, once it is properly lockable, demolish the old entrance.

To get going we needed a new – old doorframe. New, because we couldn’t reuse the old one, and old, because to go with the Woodstock heritage regulations, we have to restore the front facade to its original look.

Living In Delight had suggested checking out the Woodstock Drop Off Facility where we indeed got lucky and found an original oregon pine frame with fanlight for R50. A lucky bargain!

Now however, this frame comes at a cost: That of a befitting heritage door!

And because the heritage frame and door are wider than the new cheap and cheerful doors, we can’t use the old – new door as a placeholder.

So the challenge of the day is: Find a new – old door asap!

Luckily, thanks to the hunt for the heritage window, I know now where to ask. 🙂

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Bakkie overload: 4 bakkieloads is what we cleaned up from our neighbouring plots...

Bakkie overload: 4 bakkieloads is what we cleaned up from our neighbouring plots…

An Open Letter to the people who dump their rubbish in Woodstock:

It is actually FREE to drop off your waste at the Woodstock dump.

It’s a stone’s throw away and all you’ve got to do is to go on a little further.

Yes, it can be that easy to do good. 🙂

Please: #NoDumping

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The local kids are having fun exploring our heritage site.

Doing the grand tour through our house, showing the kids what it looks like during renovation.

When the local kids came to play in front of our house with the sand we had been delivered for our heritage renovation I couldn’t help but playing along.

This ended in us taking a grand tour through the building, which is more construction site than house at the moment.

The workers had left for the day and the tools had been stored away. But just to make sure, we played the game: Don’t touch anything! 😉

As I’m busy documenting the progress of the restorations, I took some photos along the way.

In this picture my new friends had some fun jumping about. I just love the energy of it. 🙂

Our neighbours' kids are having so much fun, it's great to be kids!

It’s great to be kids! Having fun and being happy for no apparent reason. 🙂


The local kids are turning the construction site into a playground.

Let’s play! The sand we got delivered for building our house is quickly turned into a playground. 🙂

When the local kids are playing right in front of your doorstep, it’s hard not to join in

I never miss a good playing opportunity and kids are simply best at it. 😉

And of course, what do you play best in front of a property renovation site? How to build a house, of course.

So when we got lovely fine sand delivered to our site, the kids quickly took over.

To get the sand to not spread around everywhere, I asked them to build something tall, for which we need to push all the sand together in one place.

This worked for about 5 minutes:

The local kids are playing in the sand we got delivered for building our house.

Wouldn’t it be a great game to push all the sand back into one tall heap? Yes, for maybe 5 minutes or so.

The mission turned very quickly back to building something great. What would it be?

The finished result: A water slide! Now, all we need is water! 😉


In order to build up two storeys at the back of the house, we have to level the ground. Over the years the ground level in the back garden has risen and we have to remove all the excess earth. Two truck loads!

Things are getting serious when this digger arrives on site.

And yet again we have suprises, suprises: Looks like there was some kind of foundation at the back of the property before. The digger is having a tough job breaking through rubble and removing it.

It’s like being on a proper construction site with these machines maneuvering around. 🙂


Yupp, the things that happen: For Biscuit Mill Market lots of people come to Woodstock and park all over the place. One of them apparently in our house. :(

Yupp, the things that happen: For Biscuit Mill Market lots of people come to Woodstock and park all over the place. One of them apparently in our house. 😦


Watch the wall getting fixed:

Watch the hole in the wall getting repaired:


One of those surprises: Turns out we have to open up the side of the building, as someone drove into it and caused serious damage, letting water creep into the brickwork, making it all crumbly and loose. All the old and damp bricks have to be replaced to ensure this wall can be standing another 100 years.


A dent in the side of our house.

This doesn’t look like much, but thanks to this ‘dent’ in our house, we had to tear open the whole wall.


With plaster and paint coming off the house reveals: It was at some point pink!

With plaster and paint coming off, the house reveals: It was at some point in the past pink! 🙂

Beneath all the layers of paint and plaster it looks like at some point in its 100 year long lifespan our house was pink! Somehow I find this reassuring. 🙂


Every little helps: Sharing my latest renovation challenge of finding a heritage window led to Jake drawing me a map to a shop, which turns out to be Tique, that indeed offers what we need!

On the back of the Tribe Coffee menu: This map led me to success!

As a European, if I need to find out something I turn to the internet.

In South Africa, if you manage to overcome absurd hurdles such as:

  • Connection issues
  • Cost issues
  • Data issues
  • Speed issues

Then you’re faced with a Google search result of: very little. And then half of the information is outdated.

So, internet is often not really an option.

Instead, word of mouth rules.

You got to get up close and personal and hit the streets.

For our victorian house renovations I needed a heritage window. Just another item of my long list of ‘challenges for the day’: Where to get a 100 year old window?

I got on my bicycle and rode down the road, popping into every shop that I thought might stock or know where to get what I need.

I learned a great deal about renovations, wood, heritage, styles. It was like a big puzzle where you first had to uncover the puzzle pieces. With every person I talked to another blank got filled in, somewhat completing a bigger picture.

I also learned that the craftsmanship of working with wood is literally dying out. So even if I do find a window, who is around to restore it?

It was only with a little luck that I got the info I was after:

After a meeting at Tribe Coffee, Jake greeted me with his friendly ‘How are you?’ and I told him about my quest, searching like a detective for a victorian window.

He knew a shop, but not the name of it, so he drew me the map in the picture above.

And indeed it led me to success!

The X marks The Junction Hotel, in which Tique has set up shop. If you like antiques, but like, the real stuff, then this is a place to visit. They had exactly the victorian window we needed, beautifully restored to its original look.

So, get out there and talk to people, you never know where help might come from. 🙂

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The column falls!

As the third column falls, it is only the beam across on top that holds the columns up.

Over night our beam got stolen.

It’s not just that it’s ours and can we please just keep our things, thank you very much.

And it’s not that we have to keep it and restore it, because our house is heritage and every piece of original wood helps.

And it’s not that by taking away the beam there was a significant risk that the column, which it stabilised, could have fallen and now we glance up at it every day and pray it holds up.

No, it actually is the person who buys this piece of wood. Without a buyer, there wouldn’t be this petty crime.

So my husband went from shop to shop until he found the beam. They had paid R150 for it. Which goes at a loss for the shop now, as the least they can do is give back the stolen goods.

Two entrances and no beam

Seeing double: As the entrance door moves forward to give more space to the front room, we’ve got two doors now! Oh yes, and notice the missing beam?


It is exciting and frightening at the same time to see your house being stripped to the bare essentials.

Very necessary indeed to find all the hidden damages that need repairing. Surprises waiting at every corner, each single one with its unique challenge.

Also amazing to take a deeper look beneath the surface and appreciate the history of the building.

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No lintel above this window makes the house front very fragile.

Starting to take off the plaster from the 100 year old bricks bears some surprises. Such as: no lintel above this window!

Today we found out that the front window has no proper lintel and are wondering how the wall is still standing… Surprises surprises! I guess the next couple of months won’t get boring. 🙂

No lintel above the front window makes us wonder how the house is still standing.

Taking a look up close doesn’t make it any better: Still no lintel stretching over this side of the window!

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100 year old wallpaper

Renovating a 100 year old house in Woodstock brings some treasures to light: 100 year old wallpaper

As we ‘excavated’ 100 year old wallpaper beneath all the layers of plaster and paint, we took a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship of the people who 100 years ago built this house and it’s still standing.

Well, just! With lintels missing above windows and beams stolen off columns, there’s a big portion of good luck involved in keeping this house upright. 🙂


Skype introduces Mojis: Oh please

I don’t understand why WhatsApp is so popular, Skype has always been the better app.

Like when everybody went nuts that WhatsApp offers VoIP and it’s like: Skype has done this for like ever!!!

Finally there’s a reason to choose Skype over all the other IMs, and it’s a really cool one: Mojis!

Mojis are short clips from popular movies and TV shows that you can put directly into a Skype chat like emoticons. Just better. Because video.

And, because the content is worth it: Disney quality style, with customised Muppet Mojis, cult status style with BBC clips, and more hilarious quotes, Hollywood style.

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25 Greatmore Street Renovation - Last look back: This is never going to look the same again.

Last look back: This is never going to look the same again.

Well, it’s too late to contemplate if we should’ve made a plan or not. Because we kind of just started anyway.

We’re well underway of demolishing all the old stuff that’s beyond repair, so there’s no turning back.

It’s been a jump into freezing cold water – quite a wake-up call – and now we’ve got to swim it!

Welcome to the crash course ‘How to build a house‘! 😉


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