Don’t move, improve!

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A creative couple has transformed a tired old house into a home that suits all their needs.

Photographs Francois Oberholster | Styling Marian van Wyk


Nina and Petrus Steyn with their daughters Jackie (5) and Pippa (2 months) and their pooches, Dirkie and Katrien

WHERE Kenridge, Bellville

SIZE 110m²

Three years after moving into their three-bedroom townhouse in Bellville, Petrus and Nina Steyn were faced with a decision: build on or sell.

At the time, they felt that the house was becoming too small for their growing family.

“I suppose you always think you need a bigger place,” says Nina.

But when the Steyns started making plans, they realised their home was the perfect size. All it needed was a makeover.

Once they’d decided not to build on, the couple set about planning their renovation. Since they are both doctors who work full-time, their first step was to appoint project managers.

“We wanted to leave the headaches of a home improvement project to someone else,” says Nina.

The renovations began in June 2017 and the family moved out for four months while the work was being done.

Today, the Steyns still appreciate the fact that they made optimal use of every square centimetre of their home: even an unused walk-in closet between the guest bedroom and bathroom was converted into a small study nook with built-in shelving and in the garage a new mezzanine level provides storage space for bigger items.


Living area

In the open-plan living room next to the kitchen, three different types of flooring created a real eyesore. The Steyns replaced it with large square tiles – their initial plan was a cement floor but they were concerned that it would make the space feel too cold.

Nina and Petrus both love unique furniture pieces and prefer earthy colours and materials such as stone, wood, leather and pure wool. They also prefer handmade items.

“We like furniture with a story behind it and love to combine old pieces with contemporary ones. It creates a warm, homely feel,” says Petrus.

Pendant from TrenDIY; rug, copper candleholders and vase from MRP Home; black-and-white scatters from Woolworths



A section of wall next to the counter in the kitchen was demolished and the old counter was removed to improve the flow.

Originally, the Steyns wanted to enclose a courtyard between the kitchen and garage but they realised this would compromise the natural light in the kitchen.

A new Smeg stove and extractor inspired the monochrome palette.

Planter with stand from Woolworths

It’s in the detail

The old and mouldy kitchen cabinets were replaced with new ones in a timeless Shaker style. They pair beautifully with the classic metro tiles.


Dining area

The couple had the table custom made to match the industrial-style light fitting; George Croucamp of CraftsmanXDesign constructed the framework with copper and steel pipes and the top is marble. Nina crocheted the covers for the cushions on the dining chairs. 

The Steyns consulted with Marco Zampini of Fine Interiors Marco when it came to the finishes. He suggested the dynamic pattern of the floor tiles in this open-plan area to create the illusion of greater space.

Light fitting from Kamers/MAKERS; copper candleholder from MRP Home

It’s easy to get carried away when the building starts; keep your goal in mind! – Nina



New tiles were installed in the bathrooms and the doors were replaced with sliding doors which take up less space. Nina found the antique vanity at Nerf-Af. The mirrors above the basin were a wedding gift from Nina’s grandparents.

Bathmat from MRP Home

We love our house so much now, we have no intention of moving! – Nina


Nina’s mother gave the couple the quilt on the bed in the main bedroom as a wedding gift. The linocut artworks above the bed are Nina’s handiwork.

Cushions from MRP Home



The grass they planted in the backyard struggled to grow in the shade, so Petrus and Nina  decided to use tree rounds, stones and indigenous plants to create the feel of a courtyard. Petrus laid out the different elements according to a design Nina created.

The new braai area in the waterwise garden is low-maintenance and inviting.

Wooden stumps and stones from Atlantic Pebbles

What was the biggest challenge?

Renovations are always way more expensive than you budget for and plenty of things can go wrong along the way! And, of course, there’s always the temptation to do more alterations but we decided to prioritise things according to our budget.


Total: R388 850

Project managers 45 000

Kitchen 89 500

Tiles and flooring 45 000

Electrician 22 000

Plumbing 15 000

Painting 25 000

Guest bathroom 19 000

Study nook 13 500

Cupboards 40 000

Repairs and damp-proofing in main bedroom 7 850

Braai area and outdoor lighting 16 000

Garage 15 000

Driveway 26 000

Garden 10 000
A perfect fit

When the Steyn family of Bellville weighed up the pros and cons of selling their home and buying a new one versus improving their current space, they decided that a budget-savvy renovation was the way to go – especially since they liked their neighbourhood and the size of the property.

Letitia Watson, a personal finance writer, lists five reasons why renovating is more cost-effective:

1 Transfer fees (attorney and bank fees) and transfer duty (tax payable to the state) is expensive. The amounts are determined on a sliding scale and the higher the selling price of the house – and the bigger your bond – the higher these costs will be. On a R2million house with a R1million bond, the total cost of the transaction will be R116 548, according to ooba’s online calculator. You could work wonders with that kind of money for renovations!

2 A proper renovation increases your home’s value – money you should get back when you sell your house one day. Just make sure the improvements add value, and don’t overcapitalise. Keep your suburb’s ceiling price in mind when you start doing your sums.

3 A new house might cost you more on a monthly basis, and that’s not just the bond. Consider

higher property rates and insurance, or increased maintenance costs on a bigger home or garden.

4 You may have to pay capital gains tax when you sell your home. If it is your primary residence, the first R2million profit is exempt from capital gains tax. If you’ve been living in your home for many years, you can easily exceed this limit and then you’ll have to pay tax on any profit over R2million.

5 Don’t forget about once-off expenses! It costs money to move house. And a new home is rarely perfect; you will probably also want to make changes there.


Atlantic Pebbles 082 821 4636,

CraftsmanXDesign 076 011 6965

Fine Interiors Marco 081 537 6060


MRP Home 0800 212 535,

Nerf-Af 084 946 6326,

TrenDIY 021 914 1962,

Woolworths 0860 022 002,

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