The large diningroom, facing a patio and pool, is dominated by a metal chandelier decorated with beads, shells and other bits and bobs.
The large diningroom, facing a patio and pool, is dominated by a metal chandelier decorated with beads, shells and other bits and bobs.

Pictures and story by Billy Sutter

Durban - Decorating a home need not cost an arm and a leg. All it takes to add freshness and fun to a living space is a steady flow of creative juices and an adventurous approach to colour.

Some clever buying and renovating also go a long way in seeing rooms almost instantly morph from drab to fab.

And if it is proof you are after, take Nicky Gibbs, a former graphic design student who turned to cooking as a career many years ago, and who has since been a chef all over the world – on cruise ships, in some of the classiest of hotels, and whipping up quality cuisine for celebs such as Paul McCartney, Tom Jones and Tina Turner.

With her flair for design she has transformed her three-bedroom home in Orchards, Joburg, from a blank, somewhat bland canvas into a colourful treasure trove of quirky delights – minimal outlay leading to maximum impact.

The fun begins as you arrive in her driveway to find the stone colour of the house broken by a black wall where an old half-basin water feature, not working and also painted black, accommodates a pair of large, silver kudu horns.

Step through the front door and you’re welcomed by a wash of blue, white and grey. Gibbs, who painted a lot in early years and has many of her own works on display throughout the home, has one of her large canvasses, of graphic shapes in blue, fitted to the ceiling.

On the floor is an umbrella stand filled with large bead-and-wire flowers. It stands next to a little old cupboard Gibbs picked up for a song and, with a lick of silver-grey paint, has lent new life.

Around the corner, a large diningroom beneath a loft TV room is dominated by a massive stone table and stone benches, edged in fake fur and with bright cushions.

Old chairs have been upholstered in funky, African-themed fabric and Gibbs is planning to cover more soon.

In the same room is a mini pub from the 1920s, while dangling over the diningroom table is a large metal chandelier zhooshed up with cascades of beads, flowers and shells, and two facing walls are painted aubergine.

It is in stark contrast to the room’s surrounding walls, panels of square windows and the wooden staircase leading up to the TV room loft, all of which are white.

On one aubergine wall, a massive blue painting by Gibbs shows a bungee-jumper surrounded by plates. Quirky but fun. And strikingly effective.

In the lounge, lime wall pops against bright oranges, reds, blues and pinks of surrounding artwork.

All around are quirky touches in a home that is fun, fun, fun! - The Mercury