Monday, September 23, 2013

Out with the old and in with the new - is it really so? Hon renovates.

View of the lounge before the renovations stated -
the last few boxes to be removed.

It has been three months since my last blog entry.  The longest gap ever – however I still have loyal followers and the installed blog Sitemeter indicates that there has only been a slight drop in visitors. Assuring me that I have managed to share art and design insight that is both appreciated and valued. Thank you for your support especially my followers. Its back to normal however – what ever that means - all systems go – lots to share, including breaking news of my invitation to exhibit my latest work on the international ceramic stage – a separate blog post will highlight this opportunity.
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The reason for not being able to blog was the long overdue renovations of my apartment. All 200 square meters of my one bedroom space and place in Killarney. There was a great need to bring in more light, as the flat, although north-facing is located on the first floor. I also had to redo the horrible bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. I also had to accommodate a second guest bathroom in the plans, to increase demand, should I ever consider reselling the flat. My very large studio, computer and TV viewing space is situated in the middle of the apartment and could be split into a second bedroom. The renovations are almost completed.

For three months now I have not had access to my IMac, including a TV and all it has to offer. I was staying in a flat in Killarney Hills owned by a friend of mine – one kilometre away, close enough to monitor the progress of the renovations. Glad to say I am happy to be back in my own transformed space – out with the old and in with the new. 

Main bedroom at night
Not quite – I have collected glass and a number of ceramic pieces since 1986. My glass collection is more extensive and feature mainly in the renovated minimalistic main on-suite bathroom and bedroom. A special narrow opaque glass window designed and installed just above the sunken bath  - houses my special 50s glass vases; some of them signed Holmgaardt – the male versions above the bath and the female heart shapes to the left as you enter the wet area.  
The space is ideal – dark and minimal – tiled all over, complete with white bulkheads installed in the ceiling above. Down lighters, are strategically placed to enhance, highlight the special features of the variety of glass products in my collection. For the first time each and every piece can celebrate its unique qualities of light, colour and translucency – inherent in glass pieces. 

The space is designed to accommodate the pieces and to showcase what attracted me to them in the first place. My friends and guests will also be able to see and enjoy my collection in the best way possible; in a designed for purpose space - whilst maximising the creative designers concept and idea to the full.
I had to pack up this collection, the furniture, books and kitchenware etc – to be stored in my locked studio – dust free for three months.

It took me weeks to pack and days to unpack. Moving the whole lot three times during the three month long renovations – rather traumatic and hectic. The dust and the….. blah…blah…blah…..boring, and now a thing of the past. The end result is a far cry from the original dark and unpractical living spaces created during the 40s and 50s. 

These apartments are normally very spacious and perfectly proportioned including my very own single bedroom apartment. It is perfectly placed on the property with a view of the garden and the swimming pool – hence the fact that we opened up the space, breaking down or through all the walls to let in the light. This approach was applied from all sides. The dining room, for instance, with a nasty view into the common area voids (service pipes etc), was fitted with a large opaque window(image above) to filter in light from the north end. 

My directive to the architects was to retain the original structure but to focus on bringing in more light. I wanted a practical modernist approach with a contemporary look and feel whilst catering for a more sophisticated and stylish look in designated spaces, especially the lounge.

I have always wanted an open plan industrial kitchen (stainless steel with no cupboards), a mixture of Deco and Fifties in the lounge and a glamorous and stylish bedroom with a classical, sophisticated and minimalist look for the bathrooms.  Walls had to be white and the all frames, windows and doors including granite tops had to be black. So it shall be – when all is finely completed.

The Bedroom is exactly the way we planned it – the raised floor, painted white provides an impressive view of the garden, whilst the sliding doors bring in sufficient light and fresh air into the space. Being this high up (original high ceilings) creates a loft like experience – the height of the raised floor is almost the same level as the balcony wall. Instead of looking up at the adjacent flats and into the trees you now looking down on the garden – whilst your privacy is not compromised at all. 
The location of the flat unit on the property and in the building ensures relative privacy (at the end of the L shaped block of flats) – further enhanced by the tall trees forming a green belt from the pool and the opposite flats. The wall in the bedroom is painted black, a perfect background to my framed digital print, a ballpoint pen drawing of water – in wallpaper pattern construction.

The kitchen, even more so,  was designed, constructed and realised in a cost effective manner, making it a very practical space for someone like me that loves cooking. I am a visual, creative and design orientated individual,  who wants to see the cups, the bowls and foodstuffs. I hate everything behind closed doors in a space where your want to get access to everything in a hurry for an efficient, effective and cooking experience. 
I will now be able to sit at my computer, watch the TV and see to the cooking on my stove – very practical and sensible, whilst being stylish and refined. The dark porcelain double-glazed grey tiles on the floor and the walls (one meter high), creates a highly reflective surface further enhanced by the stainless steel kitchen units. Suitable light fittings were purchased in keeping with the industrial kitchen design style.

The dining room is almost modernist in its simplicity and in complete contrast to the dark grey tiled industrial kitchen; the warm parquet sanded floors (acrylic varnish) is complimented by the solid wood dining room table with white marble top and 50's chairs. 

Synergy had to be achieved in the space and I therefore designed and had the sink handcrafted in wood, in sharp contrast to stainless steel kitchen, but matching the dining room table. An antique glass and wood cabinet contains my crystal glass collection completes the sparse warm space. It is situated next to a 1.5 meter high wall – dividing the lounge and dining room for easy access for serving pre-dinner drinks in the adjacent space. One of my ballpoint pen drawings of peonies, a digital print on acid free paper, in a white lacquered frame, adorns the wall.
The rest of the apartment is not completely finished yet and will feature soon. Needless to say I have enjoyed cooking in my new renovated industrial kitchen, had a number of friends over for dinner in the dining room. I enjoy the new open planned bathroom with a wet area for the shower. Most of all, I have enjoyed waking up early on the weekends, opening one section of the sliding door to let in fresh air and the morning light. Spending time reading whilst looking out over the garden – a newly in stalled roller blind filters through the light, obscuring the faint view of very distant flat owners. It is a complete transformation of the space and the apartment – adding value and quality of life at an age when one needs it most – comfort and style to match.

A few items have been completed for the lounge. The re-upholstery of my two deco chairs manufactured on the 21st of June 1948. I bought them from Suzette Munnik in 1988, she was my boss, the then Head of Department of Ceramics at the Technikon Witwatersrand. The two chairs have been restored (French polished) and re-upholstered in my fabric of choice, closest to the original fabric – embossed Dream Charolite, collection Miami from ZINC Textiles purchased from Romo Designer Fabrics.
I also spent two hours cleaning my fifties light fitting, now looking fabulous secured to the ceiling in the lounge. Elbow grease and Brasso did the job.