Nearby the city center in Cape Town, South Africa, freelance designer, director, and entertainment consultant
Chad Findlay pulled off quite the feat — transforming the basement of his parents’ home into his own dream apartment. Having studied at the College of Magic from the age of nine, Chad was well-versed in directing large productions, but this renovation required some unexpected tricks, like excavating mounds of dirt and large boulders out of the mountainside to make way for steel supports. With the help of his family, Chad was able to design his ideal space on a small budget while decorating with pieces he loves. Scouring sales, discount outlets, and his grandmother’s furniture collection “could have been a disastrous combination!” he jokes. Nearly every fixture and finish in the flat was free or salvaged, an act that pleases the practical performer greatly. “I love the fact [that] everything has a story to tell… with a balance between vintage and contemporary — not too granny, not too showroom.”
As in many homes, the details keep changing — and Chad swears it’s not an illusion. “I go to bed, I wake up, and things have moved,” he says. “There are either a bunch of very eager decorating fairies finding their way inside on a nightly basis, or I sleep-decorate.” In spite of the unexplained phenomenon, Chad feels “most thankful for the space, the location, and the opportunity to do it my way!” —
Photography by Sam Burrows
Occupying what would otherwise be hollow space in the wall, a bookcase fills an opening between the dining area and bedroom.
Chad Findlay at home in his Cape Town office.
In the eat-in kitchen, Chad, his father, and a welder friend made the table using a combo of wood and steel - an affordable strategy that produced several pieces in the home. "The table is on wheels which is a-mazing," Chad notes. "It used to be stained dark but I painted it white in my quest for light."
A sliver of a chalkboard wall adds a dark accent to the space. Chad observes, "It seems EVERYONE has to have one!"
After having the doors made, Chad and his father constructed the kitchen cabinets and then hand-painted them. They also commissioned the steel countertop from a metalworker friend, which was a more cost-effective option to natural stone. Chad did splurge for a marble tile backsplash sourced at an affordable price.
Chad repurposed the illustrations from a letterpress calendar purchased two years ago as framed kitchen artwork.
"We had a weird window and drain situation to the left of the chalkboard," Chad explains, "So I turned it into a bench-shelf, as you do."
Chad's grandmother's cut crystal bowl with a succulent inside, on one of his leftover marble tiles.
Ground-floor flat plans for Chad's 970-square-foot (90-square-meter) Cape Town, South Africa apartment.
An ideal spot for the bed, anchored on a wall with high windows for extra light in the basement-level apartment.
Chad DIYed his headboard with dress fabric stapled over batting and a wooden frame.
A poster from the archives at the College of Magic hangs above the sideboard used for storage and display in the bedroom.
In the entryway, "the center of my apartment has a bunch of intersections, as well as the angled ceiling section from the first floor stairs," Chad explains. "I decided to paint it all one deep color, so the entire center section is kind of brought together in that way... By shifting the door and extending the walls, I created this entry area out of what would have been an awkward intersection of randomness."
In a small hallway, Chad filled the wall by painting a green table and hanging a gallery wall with his collection of intriguing and unrelated artifacts.
Metal and wooden shelves filled with an assortment of Chad's favorite things. "I have a lot of stuff from my grandmother which is peppered throughout my apartment," he shares. "I happened to have some gold vinyl, so I went to town on the staircase wall."
A TV unit close-up reveals a hat box, shoe forms, and Sootcookie bunny rabbits found at a potter's market.
Chad works from his home office, and DIYed the adjustable shelves that display vintage items, magic tricks, art, and his collection of theater programs and Playbills.
The big map of New York was bought at the 2013 Union Square Christmas market. Chad box-framed it with vintage brass corners he found in a junk shop.
"What a difference houseplants make, even if they only last a couple months ... weeks maybe," Chad advises. "I love having them around and as a friend recently pointed out, I now sit '
between two ferns
' when I'm at my desk."
"What I love most about my home is my passionate connection to everything in it." - Chad Findlay
Chad bought a bunch of glass domes in bulk when he found them at a nearby wholesaler. "Everything looks better under a glass dome!," he says.
In the lounge, two original Vladimir Tretchikoff prints from the artist's granddaughter were Chad's first art purchase and framing experience. "Now you can't stop me," he admits. He also framed a t-shirt sizing guide he found on a factory floor in Woodstock.
A friend made the draperies out of inexpensive bull denim.
Chad had these family heirloom armchairs reupholstered in luxurious midnight blue cotton velvet. "The Vaudeville men (just very good friends) came from the flea market and I reframed [the piece]," he explains.
A diagonally-cut section of grey paint modernizes the bathroom, much of which existed pre-renovation. "Plants are my thing, I'm just not theirs - they don't last very long, unfortunately," Chad laments.
Opposite the bathroom vanity, shelves are filled with ginger jars from Chad's brother's wedding decor. "I have boxes. Anybody wanna buy some awesome ginger jars?" he jokes.