Photographs Elza Cooper l Styling Amanda van Wyngaardt
Carroll and Philip Smith with their son Ruben (16)
About four years ago, Carroll Smith and her husband Philip drove around an old suburb in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng in search of a run-down house. “We’re avid renovators,” says Carroll. “We’d just put the finishing touches on our previous home, where we replaced everything but the roof over a period of 13 years. It was time for a new project.
“We’d also bought a few dilapidated houses on auction and renovated them to rent out,” she adds. “Philip, an electrical technician, isn’t afraid to tackle anything and I’ve always got plenty of renovation ideas. We make a great team – we usually build something that not only looks good but is also practical.”
While on their recce trip back then, a house with an interesting gate and front wall caught their eye. They couldn’t see much from the yard but after checking out Google Earth they were impressed with its privacy and orientation. One day, when passing by again, the gate was standing open slightly and Carroll took the opportunity to find out more.
“The open gate was a sign because the house was soon to be put on auction. We made an offer and the sale went through just a week before the auction was to be held.” Carroll recalls how dumbfounded their friends were: “We were exchanging our neat home for a neglected house that needed loads of work!”
A beautiful braai area
Their first task was to make the house liveable. Then they gave the swimming pool modern, straight lines and at the same time cordoned off a smaller section to create a heated plunge pool. Adjacent to the pool, down two steps, was where the new braai area would be located.
“It had to be properly equipped because Philip loves to braai,” explains Carroll. “We also wanted to create different nooks linked to each other.” After removing the khakibos, shrubs and trees, they created a solid base by stamping down the ground. Numerous options for the layout were explored using the Visio design program.
“At the end of 2018, we demarcated the area with bricks and held a mock braai to make sure our design would work well,” says Carroll. Construction began in early 2019 but then they had to put the project on hold for a year while they took care of other priorities.
Little did they know what 2020 would bring when they began renovations again in March. “When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out and we realised we might be facing a lockdown, we had to scramble to get our plans finalised and buy all the materials.”
In April they got stuck in, taking care of most of the work themselves with the exception of the construction, which was undertaken by Abraham Tshabalala. “Philip did all the steelwork and welding, Ruben helped with the woodwork and I painted.” By early May, their project was complete. “It took Philip a few days before he had the heart to light a fire in his new braai!”
The platform for the fire pit was positioned in such a way that “non-braaiers” and “braaiers” can socialise together. The brazier was made by learners at a special school. Fireproof bricks were used for the surface; for ease of cleaning, a drain was installed to lead water to a flowerbed. Brazier from Die Anker School
A screen wall conceals the pool pump while built-in cupboards provide storage for gas bottles and braai equipment. Composite recycled wood decking planks that require no maintenance were used for the doors. Large pavers form a solid work surface. Bricks from Corobrik; UltraShield decking planks from NewTechWood; Flamed Granite pavers from The Creative Stone Company
A tunnel was dug under the garden to lay the plumbing for the white enamel basin. Carroll found it online. Basin from Koti Traditional Wedding Specialists
The top of the large table is made of decking planks; an old I-beam from a scrapyard was used for the legs. “It was quite a job to get rid of the rust,” says Carroll. A lower table next to the braai provides a convenient spot for food about to go onto the coals. UltraShield decking planks from NewTechWood; steel from H&M Metal Dealers
While the hosts take care of the braaiing and the children have fun in the bigger pool, the adults can relax with cocktails in the heated plunge pool. Pavers from The Creative Stone Company
Protect your paving
Jason Kobrowisky, owner of The Sealing Company which manufactures sealants for various surfaces and also offers a sealing service, explains why it is advisable to seal paving:
“Concrete bricks are naturally porous, so it’s important to use a good sealant that will prevent stains – especially around a braai area,” says Jason. He explains that two types of sealants are most commonly used: those with a water base and those with an oil base. The respective products’ finish can range from matte to high gloss, depending on what the customer prefers.
“Besides protecting the paving, a quality sealant can also enhance its colour,” says Jason. He offers the following advice:
1 Paving can be a messy job so it’s vital to clean the bricks thoroughly before applying the sealant.
2 When applying the sealant, use lambswool applicator pads for best results. Other applicators might leave streak marks or bubbles on the surface.
3 It usually takes about 30 minutes for the sealant to dry completely. Then it’s ready for a second coat, after which you can walk on it.
CONTACT 083 700 1692; thesealingcompany.co.za
Steel and steel plate 3 200
Fireproof bricks and board 630
Bricks and cement 2 300
Builder 2 500
[THE SMITHS’ RENOVATION TIPS]
• Plan carefully. We measure everything several times, and put it to the test before deciding on an idea.
• Buy the best you can afford. The disappointment created by shoddy products lingers far longer than the price you paid for them.
• Take electrical points and plumbing into account. Also take note of where your existing plumbing is so that you don’t have to lift paving in the event of a leak.
• Use Pinterest. Even if it’s just to help bridge the communication gap between the male and female team members!
• Size matters. Adapt your ideas and construction according to the space you have at your disposal.
• Keep your eye on the end result. We still have a lot of future plans and everything we do must work within the bigger picture.
Abraham Tshabalala (builder) 073 030 2870
Corobrik 031 560 3111
Decofurn 087 740 1800
Die Anker Skool 016 931 1682
H&M Metal Dealers 016 986 1321
JH Sheet Metal 016 933 5670
Koti Traditional Wedding Specialists 087 012 5363
NewTechWood 011 463 7775
Riverside Mica 016 932 3131
The Creative Stone Company 011 794 9737