Cape Town - It’s a story of agony and ecstasy… the agony of buying a house with no kitchen (not even a bad one). And the ecstasy of the day it’s finally done, and you stand quietly, alone, studying it from every angle, marvelling at just how spectacular the finished product is.
The story of my new kitchen – finally announced as complete at the end of November – began in August when we moved into our new City Bowl house. Previously an office, the only sign of anything close to a kitchen in the 1920s home was a tiny scullery with a sink, and one small surface.
It was a far cry from the beautiful creation I’d left behind in Claremont, one in which many parties had been held, dinners cooked and gin and tonics mixed. And even if they tried, there were many whose faces told the story of what I was really getting myself into.
I am lucky… I win competitions. But my lucky streak definitely came in handy when I was sent in the direction of the men who created my latest masterpiece, brought my vision to life and even cleaned up the rest of my in-the-midst-of-a-renovation house when they realised it was my birthday.
So what advice do I have for anyone tackling a similar project?
1. You’re going to spend a lot of time with the people who build your kitchen. So make sure you like them, because it’ll certainly make the whole unpleasant experience way nicer.
2. Remember that the quote you get is for the cupboards. There are plenty of other costs – plumbing, electrics, light fittings, glass, flooring. It adds up, so go into the project with your eyes wide open.
3. Shop around. The guys I eventually selected to do my kitchen cost nearly an overseas holiday less than the next quote. There’s plenty of talent out there, and it’s not restricted to the best-known companies.
4. Get your washing machine and dishwasher – if you’re lucky enough to have one – plumbed in as soon as possible. It’ll take a lot of the pain out of the entire experience because at least you’ll have clean clothes and dishes.
5. Take shopping advice from the men (or women, I guess) doing the work. My guys gave me some great advice about where to get good prices for things like taps and other necessities.
6. Don’t think that just because you’ve found a stove you like, you can go off and buy it. I found out the hard way that the popular choices can carry a waiting time of as long as three weeks. If you’re in a hurry for some home- cooked fare, you’ll have to go for a higher-end product, at a way higher price.
7. On the price front, also shop around for your backsplash tiles. I saved nearly R3 000 just by going to a next-door store in Paarden Island.
By now you’re all desperate to learn the identity of my kitchen magicians, and they deserve to be named. Because Capricorn Joinery & Interiors not only brought my vision to life but ensured it was the least unpleasant experience possible.
When I told them I’d seen a beautiful concrete bar counter in a restaurant up the road, and wanted it replicated in my kitchen, they went off to examine it. When concrete type creators told them the counters couldn’t be built unless they were on a brick wall, they said they’d do it themselves – with outstanding results.
When I sent them internet pictures of sandblasting I was coveting, they made sure to deliver exactly what I wanted.
I could go on. They listened to everything I wanted, they acted on each of my concerns, but above all they encouraged me to stick to the vision.
And in the end, we both won.
No kitchen is complete with a floor, and mine is spectacular. Originally boring white tiles, they were transformed by Crete Age, the same company that had done the slick finishes to the concrete counters.
Within three days, only one of which kept me out of the area entirely while the initial layer of concrete dried, I had the most amazing floor imaginable.
It underlines the beauty of the finished product and ends an experience which, while painful at times, showed me that Cape Town has some fabulous craftsmen who take pride in their work, and can be relied upon to turn an empty space into a true heart of the home. - Sunday Argus