We live in a lovely sunny townhouse in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. We bought our first home when we still had just one kid and back then we smugly thought to ourselves, ‘Yes, this is a lovely starter home for our little family’. Six years and another two kids later, we felt that an upgrade to our highly used outside area was in need. Although our family sometimes feels over-sized for our space, we are so grateful to have a place to call our own (well, let’s be honest it still belongs to the bank) and to have been able to turn our house into a home in some small ways since we moved in.
One of the main things we wanted to achieve with an outdoor space upgrade was to create a welcoming outside area to extend our living space a bit. And after what feels like many, many months, we have finally completed our outdoor space makeover! Although I’m super stoked that we have a lovely outdoor area just in time for summer, I’ve learnt that doing any kind of building work in the winter months is just asking for trouble – who knew that cement can take up to three months to dry completely? Not I, that’s for sure.
I’ll start by sharing two BEFORE pics. We invested in an awning from Down To Earth – The Shade Company in December last year and moved the grass from the corner to an area in the garden with some sun which got the ball rolling on this little project. We then lived with the kids walking sand into the house for a few months before we found a builder that we were happy with and who had availability to lay the concrete floor for us. Laying the cement down was quite a mission as the only way to access our back garden is through the house and some suppliers refused flat out to do it because of the potential for mess. So, yes, it was messy but it was worth it.
Enjoy looking at the before pics and be amazed at the transformation that took place. Seriously, please say wow even if you don’t think it’s that wow because wow, this project was a real labour of love. When I look at these photos I think about all the little decisions that were made along the way, little decisions that felt like huge decisions at the time – like choosing the paint colour for the floor; selecting the brand of paint; committing to whitewashing the face brick walls and everything in between.
And now for some AFTER pics. The gorgeous images to follow were all snapped by a friend and photographer, Kez from Hello Pictures. All credit for building materials and styling our space goes to these incredible partners who jumped on board for this project:
- Builder’s Warehouse – All building supplies for the concrete slab, Duram polyurethane interior and exterior floor paint in slate, whitewash paint for face brick walls, Plascon Woodcare varnish for the table wicker basket for kids’ dress up clothes, hanging baskets plus plants (lots of Spekboom!), all-weather Weber cover, Dirttrapper Outdoor mat
- The Pole Yard – Compact table and bench set
- Airloom – Chunky Sisal Kraal Round rug & Charcoal pot plant stand
- Shine Shine – Mickey And Mercy Red Fabric for bench cushions
This picnic table and bench set is 1.8m and can easily seat eight people around it plus extras if you squeeze in and even more if you place chairs at the head of the table. Although the table takes up quite a bit of our outdoor space, it’s going to be really great for summer braais outside. The benches fit under the table neatly for space-saving which is nifty.
The hanging baskets and plants are from Builder’s Warehouse and I took the Shine Shine material to Fabric World in Wynberg where they made up some bench cushions for me in one week exactly. I paid a little extra for high density foam and piping and I’m glad I took their advice on this.
We took the plunge to whitewash the face brick walls which was a pretty scary decision to make because once you start painting, there is no going back. It took Ryan and I a solid weekend and a few evenings to finish the painting but I’m so happy with the outcome. The whiter walls make the space feel bigger and updates the old school face brick look. We achieved this look by diluting white paint with water 50/50 with and hand sponging on the paint. I used a small paintbrush to paint the areas between the bricks and Ryan was kept on his toes dabbing up any dripping paint as we went along. It took a while but painting can be quite therapeutic and I was glad to have physically contributed to the makeover project myself.
This new space has given the kids another place to hang out and has brought me one step closer to the dream of a more fluid indoor/outdoor space. Ryan likes being able to sit outside when it rains and I also often work at this table in the afternoons while the kids are milling around in the garden. We plan to eat outside every night this summer.
This is the afternoon tea nook/late afternoon sundowners area. I love how these bucket chairs are completely safe from weather under our awning and how the rug and pot plant stand from Airloom complete this cosy nook. The rug is from Airloom’s Robust range which means that it is durable and practical as well as beautiful. Airloom have so many gorgeous rugs available, but I’m glad I went with a practical colour as it disguises sandy little footprints pretty well. Having a rug outside encourages the kids to take their puzzles and colouring books out there and I’m all for kids being barefoot and outside breathing the fresh air as often as possible. We are raising South African kids after all.
Having a compact outside area means that action soccer is that much more exciting and the trampoline was the best investment for burning off energy – the kids jump on it daily, have snack suppers on there and sometimes take their pillows and blankets up there to read books or just chill.
Here is our Dassie jungle gym from the Pole Yard that I’ve shared about before. You can see that we’ve further accessorised it with a netball hoop and gymnastic rings that I found at Mambos for R50. I’m very proud of the secure knots that I was able to tie to set it up – it only took about twenty views of the same YouTube tut to get it right!
And that’s our new space. We love it and I hope that seeing what we’ve done to our townhouse garden has inspired you to see that you can still add character and functional versatility to a small space to make it work for you as a family. Watch this space closely because I have a fantastic giveaway going live next week with amazing prices from some of the brands that I partnered with for this makeover.