A rustic little gem

Once a storage space, this eclectic double-storey home is ideal for entertaining, both indoors and out.

Photographs Elza Cooper Styling Amanda van Wyngaardt 

A mix of inherited items and more recent contemporary buys creates a unique look in the dining room. The wall separating this area from the kitchen was painted with textured Earthcote paint.

Who lives here?

Lizelle and Nico Janse van Rensburg 

Where Melville 

Size 160m²

Rug from MRP Home; dining table from @home; chairs from Red Apple; half-moon table and mirror are heirlooms; pendants custom-made by Ngwenya Glass 

In the kitchen, concrete shelving and countertops create an industrial-chic look. The raw concrete is striking against the Oregon pine floors and glossy blue splashback tiles. Space was maximised in this relatively small kitchen; a skylight was added for extra light.

A narrow window next to the sink looks out onto a courtyard and lets in more light.

The kitchen pendants had already been installed when the Janse van Rensburgs moved in.

In 2015, Lizelle and Nico Janse van Rensburg were on the hunt for a house with good flow, ample entertainment space and, as they weren’t keen on renovating, stylish finishes.

It was no surprise that they fell in love with this two-storey Melville home with its hardwood floors, rustic kitchen, exposed ceiling beams and romantic loft bedroom. The easy flow between the living areas and kitchen and, of course, the beautiful stoep with a bountiful garden surrounding it sealed the deal.

It’s hard to believe this cottage served only as storage space on a bigger property 13 years ago. That was before the land was sub-divided and sold off. In fact, the biggest change Lizelle and Nico made when they moved in was painting the exterior walls a dark grey.

“We’ve always liked the idea of a home with a dark exterior and a large garden that stands out against it,” Nico says. The couple updated their lush garden to include even more indigenous plants. The interior was decorated to reflect their personal style with all the furniture and décor pieces they love.

“We didn’t set out to achieve this particular aesthetic,” Lizelle explains. “Our home is simply filled with lots of random pieces that we liked, bought and then slotted into a space. It’s something of an eclectic, modern mash-up!

“As the house is fairly small – 160m² in total – it has to be kept relatively uncluttered; a sleek but fun approach made sense to us. I think there’s something special about the combination of mid-century and contemporary items; we love how it all comes together effortlessly.”

The windows downstairs have no curtains or blinds, but wooden shutters instead.

We love the exposed beams throughout the house. It adds character – the feel of our home would be completely different if there were ceilings!
– Lizelle

The ground level of Lizelle and Nico’s home – including the open-plan kitchen, dining area and living room – leads out onto a gorgeous stoep. “We open all the doors so there’s a free flow of movement between the inside and outside spaces,” Nico says.

A simple awning to keep rain away from the front door is supported by triangular brackets; this look was inspired by the corrugatediron and wood structure over the nearby stoep. The dark exterior wall provides the perfect backdrop for a row of potted air plants. Planters from Rialheim; dark grey exterior walls painted in Plascon Tribecca Corner

“The monochromatic theme in the lounge works but we can’t take credit for it – the look came together as a happy accident!” Nico says with a laugh. The couple are looking after the black-and-white artwork on the wall while its owner is travelling and the scatters are hand-me-downs. The string of pom-poms above the door was put up at Christmas last year and the couple love it so much that they’ve never taken it down. Floor lamp from Weylandts; couches from Coricraft; coffee table from @home

The stoep is one of their favourite places. “We spend most of our time here in summer and winter; we also intend to add a braai area,” Nico says. Pendant, table and chairs from; Nico made the yellow plant stand from a vintage magazine rack

We love open-plan living – it makes socialising so easy. – Nico

Rug and blue sideboard from; blue scatters from Anatomy Design

Loft living

The second floor consists of an en-suite bedroom and study. “It’s a magical space; it’s open, airy and full of natural light. We wake up among the trees every day,” says Lizelle.

The couple bought the home with the wood-framed stacking doors that divide the space already in place. “We only ever close them in winter. Or when we don’t want our dogs – the real owners of this household – to jump on the bed,” Nico says. Openings at the top of the wall above the bed, between the bedroom and en suite, improve air circulation.

The nook below one of the arched windows makes for the perfect study area. Lizelle made the trestle table from a green door she found at Builders and the chair, including a tapestry on the seat, was made from scratch by her grandfather.

The bathroom is neatly tucked in behind the bedroom. A cosy slipper bath fits snugly underneath one of the arched windows and there’s a separate shower (not pictured) with a glass screen to let in maximum light.


@home 0860 834 834

Anatomy Design 010 594 5397

Builders 0860 284 533

Coricraft 011 611 8700

MRP Home 0800 212 535

Ngwenya Glass 021 418 0654

Red Apple 011 613 3608

Rialheim 023 100 0936

Weylandts 021 914 1433

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April 2023

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