Monday, 5 November 2012

Woza Summer!

Thanks to a super slick installation of synthetic grass by Turfscape last week (we opted for the plush Synscape 35mm), our patio area has had a much-needed facelift, and is now an absolute treat underfoot. Next on the list will be the installation of a Coolaroo shade sail over the seating area (we've decided on a 'charcoal' 5.2m x 5.2m one from Builders Warehouse), and then we're good to rock 'n roll for the festive season ahead. My folks are coming up from Durbs on 19 December - the day before Goran's birthday, and will be staying till Boxing Day. Lee's folks will also be in town, and it'll be the first time our two sets of parents have spent Christmas together (up till now we've always gone to dinner with my extended family on Christmas Eve, and lunch with Lee's extended family on Christmas Day). It's going to be really nice having two moms around to help with all the meal ideas and preparations, as being stuck on permanent kitchen duty, catering to the hungry masses, is sure as hell not this lazy lioness's idea of a fun summer holiday. Booyah!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Shopping for Posterity

Calling lovers of all things antique, period, vintage, retro, kitsch and collectible...

In case you've been hiding under a rock these past few weeks, antiques-store-turned-venue-for-hire CCHQ, in the funny little run-down suburb of Fishers Hill out on the East Rand, has closed its iconic logo'd doors and is in the process of selling not only the building, but all its contents, too. Yip, everything must go!

The inventory includes a decent selection of big ticket items (lighting, furniture, objets d'art) and a plethora of more affordable bibelots and bric-à-brac. The vast majority of stock has been professionally valuated (prices are market-related, and negotiable), and besides the really covetable pieces in mint condition that have already been handpicked by various auction houses to go under the hammer, there is a mountain of smalls to satisfy even the quirkiest of tastes and/or humblest of pockets.

On Friday afternoon I made the 45-minute drive across town to go and salvage for myself a page or two from one of the most recent and successful chapters in Jozi's alternative clubbing / gigging history; a venue that holds some great memories for me personally. After going through every nook and cranny with a fine-tooth comb, I eventually came home with a framed photograph of local burlesque dancer Lauren Lung (née Utting), a hand-embroidered Pierrot the Clown framed artwork, an art deco mirrored drinks / vanity tray (to hold all of Lee and my cologne and perfume bottles in our soon-to-be revamped bathroom), two glass vases and a glass ice bucket (the latter from Turkey), a silver-plated tray and a mismatched selection of silver-plated cutlery (several pieces of which I plan to upcycle as Christmas gifts with a bit of Plasti Dip, which I recently found at Builders Warehouse).

Thanks so much to owner Zia-tasha Kirkpatrick for her hospitality. If any of you would like to make an appointment to go and see if there's anything that tickles your own fancy, let me know and I'll send you Zia's contact details.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Falling Water, Jumping Badger, Sitting Bull

For those of you who didn’t manage to catch the Waterfall HomeShow last weekend, it’s on again this weekend, and makes for a fab family outing. Twelve show houses to see on South Africa's largest residential estate (over the three hours we were there, we only managed to walk through five), a huge kiddie’s play area, brilliant organisation, and all completely free. Slap on a hat and some sunscreen, take along a cooler bag with drinks and snacks, and make a day of it.

Impressive first impressions aside, I did however have a couple of issues when it got down to the nitty gritty of the sales pitch, namely what I feel is an unjustifiably high price-tag, plus a USP on which I’m concerned Century Property Developers are going to be unable to deliver…

Firstly, R1,738,000 for a 1,120 square metre stand is steep. Especially by ‘new north’ Jozi standards where there is a lot of infrastructure not yet in place. For exactly the same size stand on Northcliff hill, which is a far more established and low-density suburb than Waterfall will be once combined and complete, we paid R500k, which includes a panoramic city view! Granted that was back in 2005, but with the market having been in a slump ever since – globally, not just locally – I do think Century’s asking price is unrealistic. Bearing in mind that you as a buyer then still need to fork out for the actual build, and even at the most conservative estimate of R6k per square metre for a moderate 200 square metres under roof (the exact size we’re living in now), you're looking at a further R1.2m. Oh, plus landscaping, probably in the region of R250k (what we paid two-and-a-half years ago), which brings you to a tidy sum of around R3.2m. Certainly not the kind of monthly bond repayments their target market – young professionals with kids in private schools – is going to be able to sleep peacefully with at night.

Which brings me to my second issue, that of an apparent under-estimation of the demand future buyers are going to have for the promised schooling facility on the estate. This somewhat disturbing revelation came to light during a convo I had with a sales guy, and it went something like this…

PG: So when do you expect to have the proposed hospital and school up and running?

Sales guy: Oh, they are both built and fully operational. The school is already running at full capacity. [big smile]

PG: Oh, excellent. But what happens when all the new families you’re selling the remaining stands to move onto the estate and want to enroll their kids at the school, only to be told there is no more space?

Sales guy: Then we’ll just build more schools. [bigger smile]

PG: Oh wow. Whereabouts on the estate?

Sales guy: It’ll have to be outside the estate as all the land has already been allocated to other things. Like a shopping centre called ‘The Mall of Africa’ that’s going to be bigger than Sandton City! [biggest smile yet]

I was horrified. Never mind the thought of such a monstrosity within spitting distance of my front door, but one of the main reasons young families like us consider moving from our free-standing homes into gated communities is for the security and lifestyle benefits it would offer our kids. Peace of mind that they would be able to walk and cycle everywhere, including back and forth from school, without having to leave the estate.

Anyway, personal issues aside, I really do like the overall indigenous aesthetic they have chosen to implement. In their beautiful hardcover marketing brochure (being ‘read’ by Goran in some of the pics below), they describe it as the “contemporary interpretation of a Highveld vernacular”, which is precisely what we used as a style cue for our own ‘Transvaal Contemporary urban farmhouse’! Several of the following design and décor elements will definitely be incorporated in upcoming reno and revamp projects in Haus Gruben. Do watch this space…