A 62sqm House That Fits Everything In

This former storage room is converted into an amazing, modern-rustic two-bedroom rental

Original Article: Mandy Allen/ Photography: Greg Cox/ Pictorial Direction: Sven Alberding/

Doreen de Waal has taken the decision to open up her home to an ever-evolving mix of tenants from around the world. A respected South African design consultant and freelance stylist on magazines such as Elle Decoration, Doreen’s latest project is In Awe Stays, a listing of Cape Town cottages and loft apartments owned and designed by her and her husband that are available for short- or long-term rent to tenants.

This particular building, located at the top of Doreen’s property, was used as a storeroom for wood. Now completely transformed from its dark and poky former self, it reflects the hallmarks of the designer’s aesthetic identity: minimal clutter, accents of bright color, an abundance of natural light, a focus on function, and a sense of playfulness and personality.

The first task was to address the structure’s architectural shortcomings. Guided by Doreen, the team of builders raised the low-slung roof as high as possible while still keeping it within the lines of the original building. The tall ceiling is now one of the cottage’s most outstanding features. The next task was how best to configure the 62-sqm floor space in order to create distinctive and well-defined zones within what was essentially, in her words, a “rabbit warren of small, shoddily built rooms that were added over the years.” Here’s how she transformed the former storage area. 

Living and Dining Area

Renters Kat and Kone lounge in the open-plan living and dining area. Soft furnishings are kept simple, as seen in the white slipcovers and brown linen drapes that flank the door leading to the courtyard. The dining table is a simple wooden piece, with chairs that can be folded and hung on the wall to save on space. 


The galley-style kitchen within the general living area has a blue mosaic backsplash wall that visually separates it from the living and dining areas. The oakwood top of the refrigerator doubles as a butcher’s block and as extra counter space.

Guest Bedroom

“The internal glass doors are great because they act as impromptu message boards and a cheeky place to write quotes on,” shares designer Doreen de Waal.

The “thought bubble” mirror in the guest bedroom shows Doreen’s wry sense of humor. Get a similar “Bubbles” mirror from Calligaris, Clipp Center, 11th Ave. cor. 39th St., BGC.

Master Bedroom

A portion of the original brickwork of the house is covered by a sheet of glass to create a very unusual headboard. This feature serves as a visual reminder of the house’s original state.

Gray storage cubes flank both sides of the bed, serving as night table, hidden storage, and statement piece.


The narrow but efficient master bathroom is brightened up with blue mosaic and red accents. A floating vanity counter was installed to save on floor space.

Read the original article ("Shades of Gray") in the June 2016 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details. 

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