House Update

It only took me about 8 months to write this post but regardless, it was totally needed.

We poured our hearts and souls into this renovation and now that we’re about 65% of the way there, I wanted to document the before and after.

This is especially for the Pengelly family, who grew up in this house for the better half of 40 years. We’ve shown this house a lot of love and it’s reciprocated with many happy memories and a safe haven to come home to each afternoon.

We still have a way to go with the addition of a garage, balustrades and a pool but that’s still a way away while we recover from the emotional and financial trauma associated with such a huge undertaking.

By “huge undertaking”I mean, buying the house without an electrical compliance certificate, replacing said electrics, fighting the council for said certificate, replacing all the plumbing, replacing the roof, all the ceilings, all the fascia boards, all the gutters, refurbish the floors, move walls, break through the floor to open up the basement into a downstairs lounge and guestroom, renovate a garden shed into a massive apartment with lounge area for our helper.

Have a look at the progress in the below pics I took very quickly with my iPhone 6.

Back Garden: 

back gardenIMG_8412

We were very pleased to work with Greg Straw of the Fourways Farmer’s Market on the landscaping of our house. Having his own kids, he completely understood Jonah’s need for  soccer field/ cricket pitch, golf green and did what he could with the space we had. He chose all indigenous plants and were non-toxic, which gives me such peace of mind when Jonah is ‘hunting dinosaurs’outside.

Back of the House:


The back of the house speaks for itself. We haven’t put up balustrades on the patio yet but we have ordered them. We’re also installing Juliette balconies on the two bedrooms. These are exactly functional but the house was incredibly dark before we created the glass doors. This as allowed for some lovely afternoon sunlight into Jonah’s room and my sewing room.


Entertainment Area:

entertainment-area (1)

Previously, this addition hosted 21sts, vow renewals and a host of various celebrations by the Pengelly’s.

We didn’t do a lot to this space as it’s part of the third phase of building, so we mainly cleaned it up and took out the steps to allow for more garden space. We still need to replace the roof, build a bar and toilet and then dig out a lap pool in line with the structure.



Front of the House:front-of-the-house

Here we replaced the doors, roof, fascia boards and gutters. And obviously gave it a good lick of paint. We still need to redo the paving here but that’s so far down the list.


The garage is going to be erected where Frankie is but for now, our cars will continue taking a beating out in the open.


The Patio:

kitchen - patioIMG_8438

The Kitchen: 

This is where the most work took place. We shortened the kitchen to make space for a patio – think morning coffee while we watch Jonah chase the hadidas – but it actually just turned into the perfect place for our veggie boxes with all the sunlight it gets. We also did away with the scullery, pantry, floors, plumbing, electrics and ceilings.


Before, the kitchen and dining room where separated by a wall but we decided on a more open plan space, conducive to family time and a less isolated cooking experience (basically I just wanted my friends and family to be able to drink wine with me while I cooked awful food).So we knocked through the wall behind the cupboard and opened it up.


(Excuse Tom’s ‘handy work’ on the curtain rains. They’re also on the list to be fixed.)

The TV Lounge: 

This room still requires some work. We’ve made it functional structurally but decoratively we still have to give it some thought. To be honest, we hardly use this space. We’re usually in the kitchen or our room at night. I think if we prettied it up a bit, we’d be more inclined to use the most comfortable couch in all the world.


The Passage: 

In a bid to let more light into the house, the previous owners had cut holes in the walls and filled it with glass bricks. Once we installed the French doors, we didn’t need that addition, so we filled them for a more modern look.


Main Bathroom:

I don’t think anyone enjoys using a bathroom/ toilet that another family has used before, so we made the decision to completely gut the bathroom, move the existing wall out by 10cm and replace all of the plumbing. This didn’t come without it’s challenges but we’re pretty happy with the monochromatic outcome.The screed supplied completely missed the mark with job though. She used a glue instead of a varnish and didn’t match the cream floors with the bath or vanity. She also blocked the shower drain and cause water damage through the floor and adjacent walls. In the end we just decided to tile over it. We’re yet to match the bath and vanity but when we do, it’ll be with the same white subway tiles as we have in the shower.  Once we’ve completed phase two of the garage and en suite in the main room, this will become Jonah’s bathroom exclusively. Can’t. Wait.



Jonah’s Room: 

This is my favourite room in the house. Mainly because Tom gave me full reign decoratively and partly because I painted the walls myself without a scrap of help. Even though I had designed this room perfectly in my head, I forgot one crucial element. Toys. Where in the world do these Pinterest mamas pack their kid’s toys? Totally unrealistic because if you’ve ever lived with a kid you’ll know they can’t find ANYTHING on their own and even when the toys are spread out from one end of the room to the other, you’ll still be summonsed in to find that one lonely hot wheel car that he got 10 months ago. I need to figure out a smart way to store all his bright red and royal blue Spider-Man figurines and Lighting McQueen cars that clash with my colour scheme. Any ideas, mamas?


There’s an entire downstairs area that I we haven’t done much with and until then, I’ll leave that out because it’s nothing to look at really.

But that’s the great thing about renovating, it’s never really done. There’s always something to do and improve. We love that part of the process. Now, if we could just find the inner strength to begin phase two…


December 2015

This year the three of us headed down to the North Coast for just shy of two weeks to unwind and recharge our family time battery.

While there, I got to put some theory into practice from my recent photography course and while I’m still just about as beginner as they come, I’m quite happy with a few of the pictures I got of Jonah. After a couple of days, I realised that I was capturing such precious moments with Jonah and his dad and both sets of grandparents and that I have none of him and I. So I set the camera up on the correct exposure and let Tom have a go, and I must say, he’s not half bad.

269 J581110

I’ve chosen to put up only the images where Jonah is faced away from the camera. I can’t really put it into words just yet but I’m feeling really exposed online lately. It’s super weird and really creepy but I just can’t help but feeling like I need to withdraw and limit what I put out there. Once I have this thought out, I’ll put up another post on it but for now this is all I’m comfortable posting.

I’ll leave you with with my favourite picture from the trip, my little Mowgli.



First Christmas in the new house

Dear Jonah,

It’s Boxing Day 2015 and your Dad and I are feeling full of love, food and Rehydrate after last night.

This year we had Christmas in our new family home and you were absolutely enchanted with the festive spirit and Father Christmas! You were surrounded by the people who love you most in this world and were spoiled beyond measure.

We all sat around the table and shared a delicious meal together- not that you’d remember that part because you were wiped out after a crazy Christmas Eve and slept for 3 hours through lunch.

Afterwards we carried the family tradition of playing cricket in the garden until I hit your brand new ball over the wall into the neighbours yard- sorry!

Oupa, Nanny and Gaga stayed late into the night we all indulged in copious amounts of wine, took turns on the piano, participated in a very competitive game of 30 Seconds and set up a fun family photobooth, all the while you slept soundly in your cot.

It may not have been our traditional Christmas braai with swimming and tanning at Granny and Grandad-dad’s house or being cramped around Gran-Gran’s dining room table in the sweltering Durban heat but it was our Christmas and one that we’ll cherish for many years to come.


Make your own Christmas wreath

I have a room in my house dedicated to craft and sewing. For the first 11 months of the year it acts as a storage facility but then, come December 1st, it’s basically transformed into Santa’s Toy Shop.

Last year my medium of choice was pottery, I made tiny little Jonah hand prints to decorate my family’s gifts and the year before that was stamping. I stamped everything, it was weird.

This year I was super inspired by a post I came across on Country Road’s IG and decided to try my hand at something a lot more tangible- floral arranging.

It was actually super easy and took my the duration of Ellie Gouldings, Delirium to complete.

If you’re feeling particularly Martha Stewart-y this festive season, have a look at my step-by-step guide to making a simple, foliage Christmas wreath.

  1. Wire frame:


On the CR blog it said that most florists would supply this frame but I couldn’t find one that did so I asked my main man Mike at Mica to build me one and it literally took him 7 minutes and cost me R17. Just make sure it’s double edged like this one.

2. Building a base


I collected a couple sticks from my garden and arranged them in a way that they would act as a sturdy base for the foliage. I secured the sticks with flower arranging wire that I cut into pieces of 4. You’ll need about 10 pieces of 30cm strips of wire. And pliers, not kitchen scissors- something I wish I had found out sooner.

3. Foliage Fun!


This was the fun part. My GBF and I went hunting around our office park at lunch time for leaves, sticks and pine cones. Despite the worried glances from our colleague as they mouthed, “WTF ARE YOU GUYS DOING?” from the comfort of their pleather chairs, we found a butt load of the perfect foliage for the wreath. You can use any greenery, fruits, flowers you wish but I chose more classic plants like the pine needles which smell so mossy and delicious, it makes me feel like I’m having a white Christmas in a log cabin somewhere in the mountains.

I arranged the heaviest leaves (pine needles) to hang at the bottom of the wreath so they would act as an achor once it is hung up and then just braided the other leaves in through the sticks and secured them as I went with left over flower arranging wire.

It’s also probably worth mentioning that you should identify the natural direction that the leaves lie in and then stick to that. Like, majority of mine went clockwise, so I stuck with that for a better flow.

Oh, and another pro-tip: Don’t let a few days pass between collecting your bounty and decorating the wire frame. I found that my greenery had dried out quite a bit and wasn’t as bendy as I’d have liked it to be. Also, don’t worry about your leaves dying over the next few weeks as you can always just pull out the brown, dead guys and replace them with a few green sprigs!


4. Ta-da!


And there you have it, the perfect DIY Christmas wreath. I think I’m going to carry this theme through to my Christmas table decoration this year. All natural materials and neutral colours. I just can’t for multi-coloured Christmas trees and decor- it just feels so wrong.

Still growing up.

Life is tough. Really, it can be so trying at times. Building, renovating, bringing up a headstrong toddler, maintaining a career, building a home… You know how it goes, I don’t have to explain it to you.

Tom and I have been like two ships passing in the night, just co-existing not because of anything else but being busy doing life. We try to balance living this 40-something lifestyle while still being in our 20s and all too often it just becomes a little bit too much. We’ve been talking, pushing and pulling, wrestling with this weight on our hearts of how to strike a balance and no matter how deep we go we just come up empty. It just seems that regardless of the effort, one aspect falls short and suffers.

While fighting through the traffic to work, trying to iron out my frazzled ponytail with my fingers, huffing and puffing about how hard life is, I looked to my left and inside this taxi was a really young mum with her tiny baba. Just sitting there, full of fear and exhaustion. I thought about her morning and how early she must’ve woken up to get herself and the little one ready to walk to catch the taxi in the cold. Where was she going? Was she dropping off her baby at daycare so that she could got to work, school? I immediately felt so ashamed at how impatient and unforgiving I am with my life. How dare I huff, I’m driving myself to a JOB in a car that’s seat warms up my butt when I ask it to, then I have the luxury of leaving said job, in said car to fetch my son from a phenomenal nursery school after he’s been fed organic barley risotto (not even lying, this is what they feed him) and been stimulated all day by professional, qualified teachers.

Then I heard Macklemore’s latest release,Still Growing Up and all of a sudden I felt so… ok. So grateful that we weren’t the only ones who felt like we are still growing up ourselves, let alone bringing up another life. So grateful that I’m not expected to have all my shit together at any given time. And so grateful that I’m young enough to still live and experience life with my son. We teach each other new things every day. He is my greatest adventure. I’ve actually never been so in tune with who I am and accepting of my self until I became a mother.

How wonderful

Moral of the story? Quit being so hard on yourself and stay grateful. I’m doing a good job, I know I am. My son is loved (read: smothered in love!), warm, fed, educated, disciplined (look, we try!), cared for and I’m still managing to hold down a stressful yet fulfilling job, while being a wife to my husband and putting food on the table every single evening. I just hope that young woman in the taxi can safely say the same, I really really hope she can.

So He’s A Bit of a Fixer Upper…

Before Tom and I started the build, we had these grandiose plans on how we were going to document it from start to finish. Tom was going to guest blog, we had a ‘How To’ plan, and often asked each other why no one document this stuff? Well, now we know. You simply do not have the time or more importantly, the inclination to write anything about the cess-pit of money, sweat and tears that is your beloved future home.

We’re two months in and we’re still a good month or two off moving in. We’ve taken down almost every wall inside the house, the entire roof and ceiling has been redone, in the process of relaying the parquette flooring. We’ve broken through a slab in an effort to add a level, ripped out the kitchen entirely as well as every single window and door. Not to mention the addition of a balcony to the kitchen area and each bedroom, as well as a double flatlet/ domestic quarters.

Since the 1st of June, the three of us have moved in with my folks. This makes six, eight if you include the two helpers and 9 if you include Shepard, the gardener. So yeah, things are a bit cramped but we’re having fun so far. This also helps us with cash flow, saving rent so that we can buy things like door handles and light fittings.

Even though the end is nearing, we can’t help but feel like we’ve only just reached Cato Ridge in the Comrades Marathon. Once the first phase is done, the garage and en suite still needs to be added and then the entertainment area at the back. But if we were to think of that now, we’ll never make the gates of Kingmead stadium. It is a mental game after all.

The front of the house sans doors.

The front of the house sans doors.

Outside the kitchen on the patio area.

Outside the kitchen on the patio area.

Stunning magnolia tree which we'll be keeping.

Stunning magnolia tree which we’ll be keeping.

The outside wall that's actually plastered and ready to go already.

The outside wall that’s actually plastered and ready to go already.

The garden now that most of the trees and shrubs have been cleared out.

The garden now that most of the trees and shrubs have been cleared out.

From the back garden, looking up

From the back garden, looking up

Brave or stupid? FAQ in the Manners household.

Brave or stupid? Most FAQ in the Manners household.

Passage to the bedrooms

Passage to the bedrooms

We have a bath!

We have a bath!

A wheelbarrow for good measure!

A wheelbarrow for good measure!

And so it begins…

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the end for us.

The electrician arrives bright and early in the morning to start stripping all the electrics, then the ceilings are being removed and then the demolition starts.

We had the handing over of the key ceremony this afternoon and for the first time ever we were able to see the house without any of the previous owner’s furniture in it and that we were left alone in the house. It was wonderful.

We did a happy little jig and the boy was able to run around his new garden and taste all the different flowers and learn that roses actually have thorns on them.

I was incredibly pleased to see that the Pengelley’s left behind these little wall details. I just love them and think they add such character to the wall and pay homage to our English roots.

Notthing hill

Abbey road

Portobello road

Can’t wait until this is an every day view for me, except with all the renovations completed.

house landscape


tom & jonah

oak tree

How stunning is this old Oak tree?  All I wanted when I was a little girl was a garden with a real tree in it. Now, at 25, I finally got one! So despite it shading a lot of the house, I’m protecting it with my life.

Family kiss

According to Tom, this is called a ‘Salefie’, a selfie you take when the sale goes through on a house, ha.

All in all, we’re feeling a lot more relax about things and we’re just excited to get things started now.