Quantcast

Interiors

Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa

by Annie Werbler

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!” —Annie

Photography by Sam Burrows

Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
1/26
Occupying what would otherwise be hollow space in the wall, a bookcase fills an opening between the dining area and bedroom.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
2/26
Chad Findlay at home in his Cape Town office.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
3/26
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."
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
4/26
A sliver of a chalkboard wall adds a dark accent to the space. Chad observes, "It seems EVERYONE has to have one!"
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
5/26
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.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
6/26
Chad repurposed the illustrations from a letterpress calendar purchased two years ago as framed kitchen artwork.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
7/26
"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."
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
8/26
Chad's grandmother's cut crystal bowl with a succulent inside, on one of his leftover marble tiles.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
9/26
Ground-floor flat plans for Chad's 970-square-foot (90-square-meter) Cape Town, South Africa apartment.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
10/26
An ideal spot for the bed, anchored on a wall with high windows for extra light in the basement-level apartment.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
11/26
Chad DIYed his headboard with dress fabric stapled over batting and a wooden frame.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
12/26
A poster from the archives at the College of Magic hangs above the sideboard used for storage and display in the bedroom.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
13/26
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."
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
14/26
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.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
15/26
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."
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
16/26
A TV unit close-up reveals a hat box, shoe forms, and Sootcookie bunny rabbits found at a potter's market.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
17/26
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.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
18/26
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.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
19/26
"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."
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
20/26
"What I love most about my home is my passionate connection to everything in it." - Chad Findlay
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
21/26
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.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
22/26
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.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
23/26
A friend made the draperies out of inexpensive bull denim.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
24/26
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.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
25/26
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.
Doing It His Way In Cape Town, South Africa, on Design*Sponge
26/26
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.

Suggested For You

Comments

  • Very nice home…one puzzling element: From the way I understand photo #1, the books on the shelves are placed with spines to the wall, making it impossible to see their titles and perhaps pick one off the shelf to explore its contents.This only makes sense if one views books merely as decorative objects and not as invaluable repositories of human stories. I wish Chad would reconsider this decorating decision.

    • No, in this case that’s a built-in bookcase that divides the dining area from the bedroom (check out the floorplan), so the spines are legible from the other side. However, the spines-in book-shelving technique IS a practice that a surprising number of people commit (inexplicably). I agree with you that it is, um, inadvisable, shall we say, but Chad is evidently a person who loves, appreciates, and USES his books.

      • Yes – I do love my books! The bookshelf is actually in an opening within the wall between my bedroom and dining/kitchen … so I view the books from my bedroom … what a lovely view to go to sleep with :) Thanks so much for the lovely comments!

  • Not only is this a charming space, but Chad’s comments are so endearing!! I am also a theatre lover (and maker!) and so a lot of this made me smile.

  • I really enjoyed everything about this house, as a person who also like to keep things that I can stories about around the house. I am also amazed by how much light this basement apartment receives and how you managed to make so many cost effective choices still look custom. From the decor to the finishes, everything looks considered. You have a great eye.

  • Wow, what he’s done in that basement is incredible! The resourcefulness and design choices are stunning :)

    Unrelated, but from the pictures it appears to be larger than 300 sq’ (closer to 600), is that # correct?

    • Kimithy,

      Seems like we had a metric system conversion error – the home measures closer to 970 square feet (90 square meters). That caption has been updated.

      Thanks for looking out!
      Annie

  • I like that it’s universal and African at the same time. It looks like the abode of somebody cool from almost anywhere, but there’s something about certain details–the bold black patterns, some of the personal things–that make the link to South Africa. I think that’s great–so many places lose their personality and sense of place by sticking too strictly to what’s trending. Here, personality and place shine.

  • This is the best! And what about the diagonal wall in the bathroom!?and wherever did you find the adorable table lamp (in front of the map of N.Y.) I could go on and on!This is the “piece de resistance”.Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Design Sponge has been phenomenal in terms of its diversity of late, but I’ve never seen a contemporary feature of a South African home that features a black South African homeowner (or renter). That seems really telling about who is living in what style in South Africa these days and who is (still) not given the actual population of that country.

    • Georgia

      You’re right. I would love to feature more homes from South Africa and will work on finding a local resource to help us find more homes and more home owners/renters. We’ve increased our international outreach for homes considerably, but haven’t had much luck with homes in Africa in general. But I promise we’ll work harder to make that happen.

      Grace

      • This is such a great comment and totally worth following up … South Africa and the rest of the continent has such amazing tastemakers with unique style and flair. I guess it’s a case of who submits to D*S too. I’ll keep my eye out ?

        • I’m actually from South Africa. And my initial reaction to these house tours that have been popping up recently online, featuring the homes of white (and what I assume rich) house owners is often one of discomfort. Thanks @Georgina for bringing it up in such a graceful way and @Grace for your response, especially not being defensive. I feel I can actually enjoy this house tour knowing you are aware of some kind of circumstances and issues the country still unfortunately faces. And DS does continue to be one of the most diverse places online. Your amazing and inclusive work is not going unnoticed.

          • Lelo

            Thank you for your feedback. We are actively working to both find more beautiful homes in Africa from a wide range of home owners and are also working to ensure that our home tours reflect all of our community. We always welcome any requests or recommendations.

            gGrace

  • WOW this is incredibly impressive! Hard to imagine this is a basement—-What a knockout! Great space, filled with drama and fun. So in love with your eclectic style. Beautiful everything!!!

  • Wow, Chad, you definitely have “the eye”! So many homes that are published these days look so stringently of one style (I’ve frankly had about all the midcentury modern I can take) that they end up devoid of the owner’s personality. How refreshing to see a home with so much of your personality included, yet at the same time feeling so clean, contemporary, fresh, and beautifully stylish. Not an easy feat! You (and your dad!) did a masterful job on this place. Bravo!

  • So lovely seeing a South African home! I’d volunteer my house to be featured when it’s done ;) I’m up in Johannesburg.
    I loved the personal touches, Chad – you have a real home and not some magazine spread kind of place… and thank you for not going beige! P.S Those Sootcookie Bunnies are precious.

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.

x