Co-living Renovation in Woodstock

WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES Juané Venter

A 120-year-old building in Woodstock, Cape Town, has been renovated into a new co-living concept.

Cape Town Cribs, a company offering fully furnished, shared-living spaces in Cape Town, approached interior designer and architect Juané Venter to work on their latest project. It involved a complete renovation of a rather neglected, large (approximately 220 m²) double-storey Victorian, the addition of two bedrooms, and furnishing the property within a strict budget.

Cape Town Cribs’ clientele are young professionals, so the interiors of this heritage building had to be creative and modern, says Juané, who was VISI’s Win a Home contestant in the third season. The renovations took three months and Juané was responsible for everything from the architectural drawings to interior decoration and project management.

“I had total creative freedom within the limited budget, which lead to some innovative and thrifty thinking! It also lead me on some very interesting adventures throughout Cape Town to find hidden gems and great deals,” she says. “You don’t need expensive items in order to create a beautiful interior, but your basics have to be good.”

Juané was inspired by Woodstock’s vibrancy, unpredictability and creativity juxtaposed with the classic Victorian architecture, and by the abundance of funky graffiti on every corner. She commissioned Wayne Beukes (aka Conform) for the façade of the house, which faces Woodstock’s busy Victoria Walk road, to create a large 6 m graffiti artwork.

Inside, geometric lines, contemporary colours and classic pieces of furniture have been combined with modern light fittings. “My style is minimalist and industrial, and I believe in the honesty of materials. Wherever I could I exposed the original, solid wood. I also chose steel, wood and quality materials where possible,” she explains.

Juané opted for white as a base and accented bedroom walls with different colours from Dulux (such as Poseidon, Butterfield, Subzero Blue and Kentucky Blue). “I wanted to create a quiet space that feels light and open, but add some interesting elements with the choice of colours and artwork. Each bedroom features a different print ranging from sketches to photographs by South African creatives and artists Lente Conradie, Minenhle Ntuli, Conform and myself.”

The staircase was very dilapidated and covered in a red carpet with layers of paint beneath. Juané and her team spent more than three weeks sanding it to expose the solid Oregon pine Victorian balustrade. The stairs were then painted a contemporary dark grey.

“My favourite part of the renovation is the triangle light in the main atrium. I made it myself and it cost less than R800!” Juané laughs. A similar geometric pattern is repeated in the lounge. More nifty budget-friendly choices included open cupboards, shelving and steel rods for hanging items in the bedrooms and freestanding, full-length mirrors, which Juané had cut at PG Glass.

“Working with an old building on a limited budget teaches you so much about architecture, building and design,” says Juané. “You don’t need a lot of money, you just need good ideas and a good spirit to explore unexpected places.”