Change Agents

Change Agents

Renovations can be full-scale gut-and-rebuild projects or small changes that make a big difference. We look at makeovers by both homeowners and designers, proving that there isn’t just one right way to do it

Chessie Ellenbogen, jewellery designer and mom of two

A quintessential creative (she’s an artist and a jewellery designer, and has worked in interiors), Chessie recently renovated the Parktown North home she shares with her husband. The charming house has good bones but was a little worse for wear, being such an old building.

What was the primary goal of your renovation?

Kitchen We wanted to create an open-plan living/eating space and modernise the finishing’s and fittings. The house is old, with good bones, but it needed a refresh.
Bathroom This space needed to be more guest-friendly. There also wasn’t a shower in the house aside from the master suite, so we needed to incorporate one.

What do you feel is the most successful feature of your makeover?

Kitchen The indoor/outdoor flow makes a huge difference to the space. We also chose a great stove – it’s such a pleasure to cook on.
Bathroom I love the pink walls (Dulux Cracked Clay 3). I chose something a little out of the box and it’s perfect.

What was your favourite find?

The honed granite tops were a big success.

Were there any unexpected expenses?

We used encaustic tiles on the floor and didn’t realise that we needed to seal them, so they got really marked. The cleaning and sealing was an unexpected step.

Is there anything you’d do differently?

We initially had an above-the-counter cupboard that extended to the countertop surface. It was meant to house appliances but the cupboard wasn’t deep enough so we had to shorten it. Bathroom If I’d known about coloured grouting during the renovation, I would have loved to try it.

The drawers are recessed slightly within the honed granite shell, a smart and polished detail. The two-tone grey is also a nice touch

The choice of pink for a guest bathroom is inspired. It makes a feature of the space, and adds warmth and personality to a room that’s often quite sterile

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Tristan Du Plessis, interior designer
Tristan of Studio A Interiors turned a badly fitted and finished student digs into a sleek urban loft using a combination of luxurious and industrial finishes and a monochromatic palette

What was the primary goal of your renovation?

We wanted to get rid of wasted space and create more open liveable space. We knocked down walls, took out unnecessary bathrooms and opted for a single floor finish to create a sense of oneness throughout the apartment.

What do you feel is the most successful feature?

The fact that it’s open plan, so the zones (bedroom, bathroom, lounge) interact seamlessly

What was your favourite find while sourcing fittings/ furniture/surfaces?

The Elitis wallcovering from St Leger & Viney created visual impact and texture to feature walls.

Were there any unexpected expenses?

There are always unforeseen costs with a renovation. These came to light during the construction phase and were overcome through negotiating with understanding contractors.

Is there anything you’d do differently?

I would rather have pushed through with the whole renovation in one phase. Living with half-finished spaces is never fun.

Off-shutter concrete is a really underrated wall treatment – it’s an easy way to inject instant industrial interest

renovation 02

Mischa Coetzee, Creative, brand and brow specialist

Misha’s bathrooms received a stylish upgrade, adding value to her old Illovo flat without overcapitalising. The space was transformed using a herring-bone-tiled wall, metro tiles and the original bath

What was the primary goal of your renovation?

My goal was to modernise my old bathrooms in a premium but cost-effective way. I had a small budget in mind and knew I could make it work through smart decisions. Fortunately I found an amazing builder who allowed me to complete the job quickly and within budget.

What do you feel is the most successful feature of your makeover?

I adore my herringbone-tiled wall. I’d seen something similar on Pinterest a while back and I knew in an instant that I needed to incorporate a similar design somehow. Ironically the only metro tiles I could find were really long, which ended up working beautifully. It came to life just as I’d imagined.

What was your favourite find while sourcing fittings/furniture/surfaces?

I also love my cabinet, which I designed and had made. It’s huge and there’s enough space for all our bits and pieces, but it still looks slick and unobtrusive in the small space.

Were there any unexpected expenses?

I’m pretty thorough with costing and comparative pricing, so there weren’t any real surprises. The metro tiles were the most expensive part of the exercise, but I was prepared for that and they were my one splurge item.

renovation 08

Looking back, is there anything you’d do differently?

I probably would have sourced an antique ball and claw bath, had it re-galvanised and installed a freestanding bath. I just figured it would add additional cost to my thrifty exercise so decided against it.

We love how the herringbone panel’s edge forms an interesting feature in itself. And likewise how the metro tiles have been laid differently on the sides of the bath to the wall. It’s simple details like this that make for clever renovations

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Kelly Adami, interior designer

Kelly’s first renovation project of her own home, this transformation involved the update of a Joburg complex dating back to the ’80s. A major overhaul of the whole house, we’re showing you two of our favourite rooms

What was the primary goal of your renovation?

This space was originally designed to be a family/TV room and so it was really about converting it and changing it into a functional workspace. For this reason, we also aimed to modernise it and fill the space with more light.
Bathroom I’ve always felt that a guest loo is a great opportunity to do something special. It’s the space your guests are most likely to see so I wanted to give it something extra.

What do you feel is the most successful feature of your makeover?

Study The walls were originally finished with a heavy texture that was fashionable in the ’80s. This obviously dated the space so we decided to RhinoLite over all the walls to create a smooth appearance. There’s quite a dramatic difference and it works so well to achieve our goals of modernising the space.
Bathroom Half subway tiles, half wallpaper works well to balance the patterns and perks of each. Ceiling-to-floor in one pattern might have been overkill but the white tiles give it some breathing room and freshness.

What was your favourite find while sourcing fittings/furniture/surfaces?

Study The teal paint by Dulux used on the existing bookshelf. It originally had a dated antique-style finish – a simple lick of paint was all it needed to completely transform it into quite an impressive feature.
Bathroom I’m a sucker for anything black and gold, so this mirror from Con Amore really hit the spot. It brings the space together.

Kelly’s use of paint to update the cabinets is a textbook example of the power of colour to transform a space. Be bold and have fun with it – it’s not permanent, so if you want to change it at some point you can

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Kate Wilson, interior designer

Kate’s flowerbed-to-veranda transformation added a much-needed outdoor space just beyond the living room. Working at Tessa Proudfoot Designs has shaped her aesthetic to include a colonial and eclectic look

What was the primary goal of your renovation?

Our house seriously lacked an outdoor entertainment area and as we entertain a lot, a veranda next to the pool made perfect sense. We wanted to be able to open the whole house in summer, so we created a covered veranda that became an extension of the interior by way of folding stacking doors.

What do you feel is the most successful feature?

We absolutely love the herringbone brick floors of the veranda; they provide the classic colonial feel we wanted.

What was your favourite find while sourcing fittings/furniture/surfaces?

The Indian glass hanging light was a great find from Weylandts. They are reasonably priced and finish the space off beautifully.

Were there any unexpected expenses?

Once we had discovered parquet under the carpets, it completely blew the budget refurbishing the floors!

Is there anything you’d do differently?

We would have added drop-down blinds from the start. The late afternoon sun is strong, which is the perfect time for sitting on the veranda having a drink with friends.

Treating the outdoor space as a ‘room’ was the reason behind the success of Kate’s veranda – think indoor when choosing lights and paving the floor, the change in mind-set will make a huge difference in the sophistication of the outcome

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Source book

Chessie Ellenbogen Bathroom
Paint Dulux Cracked Clay 1 (


Paint Dulux Grey Steel 1 (
Carpenter Sam Devine (
Oven Smeg (
Encaustic tiles Hadeda (
Pendant lights Le Basse-Cour (

Tristan Du Plessis

Bed Weylandts (
Sidetables Studio A Interiors (
Lights Serge Mouille (
Objet d’art Seletti from Generation (
Ottomans Amatuli (
Armchair OKHA (

Misha Coetzee

Builder Manick Construction (
Tiles Italtile (
Vanity and cabinet Custom designed by Misha (, made by Huttons

Kelly Adami Bathroom

Tiles and bathroom fittings Italtile (
Wallpaper United Wallcoverings (


Paint Plascon in Meteor (
Carpet Rebtex (

Kate Wilson

Indian hanging glass lights Weylandts (
Zebra hide What Not Fabrics (
Coffee table The Private House Company (
Fur throws as seat covers Weylandts (
B&W fabric on bench Halogen outdoor range (
Colonial-style palms The Garden Shop (
Bricks Corobrik (

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Text: Julia Freemantle
Photographs: Karl Rogers and supplied

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