We did it ourselves!


Without costing too much by leaving the rest to the professionals and doing some of the work themselves, drained rooms refreshed.

Modern talking

“Our kitchen had an efficient, practical layout and was not difficult to work in, but my wife Claire and I were tired of its 1980s creme tiles and laminated countertops ,” says Jo’burg photographer Christoph Hoffmann. As Christoph spends most of his days snapping pictures of beautiful homes, he’s regularly exposed to great design ideas. Being a fairly accomplished DIYer, he decided to tackle most of the renovation himself.

To cut costs, Christoph drew up his own plans for the kitchen. “I also tackled the simple plumbing and wiring changes and did all the necessary painting.” The Hoffmanns decided to leave the layout mostly as is, and work with the existing space, but repositioned the appliances and replaced the wall-mounted cabinets with floating shelves which provide sample storage space and make the kitchen look less cluttered.

Christoph bought cabinet carcasses from Blue Pearl Kitchens and installed them himself. He then enlisted a carpenter friend at forest Design to make the doors from American walnut, fit them and clad the sides of the cabinets. The laminated countertops were replaced with granite.

Christoph’s favourite feature is the mobile island with a stainless steel top. “I had it custom made, then put castors on it and had it clad with American walnut to match the rest of the kitchen. It’s open on one side, so pots and pans can be stowed out of sight.”

The French tile design Christoph had in mind for the floor required quite a bit of measuring and cutting. He found the pattern online, bought the slate tiles and cut them to size himself, but left the actual laying to professional tillers.

As the kitchen has lots of natural light, Christoph and Claire felt it could handle a dramatic wall colour. They experimented with various shades containing cool grey undertones, and ended up painting the walls two different but similar hues. By doing quite a bit of the work ourselves, the kitchen cost us much less than going the conventional route,” says Christoph.

Vintage chic

To create a classic modern country kitchen, mix heirloom silver with on-trend copper pieces  and offset them with an interesting texture.


Barbara Neisius  has the following advice:

  • Keep the overall effect simple, aiming for pared down with a hint of the past. It should look curated rather than cluttered.
  • Group your heirloom pieces for impact. A collection of old and new jugs makes a lovely display as does a stack of wooden boards and tea towels.
  • Include something fresh like a bunch of herbs in a silverware vessel.
  • Stick to a colour palette. White cabinetry with grey and white marble and wood tones is always classic, and then bring in modern stainless steel, black industrial chairs and grey screeding to bring it up-to-date.
  • You can never have enough white crockery. Choose interesting shapes and mix with antique copper and silverware.
  • Browse regularly at your favourite decor and collectables shops to add to your collections.
  • A country-style table always makes a strong statement and placing it on a screed floor gives it a contemporary feel.

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