Our ground floor apartment is small, but one of the best things about it and what made us fall in love when we saw it, is the outside space that comes with it. Leading from our kitchen door is a long corridor and a courtyard a bit bigger than an average parking bay. In Cape Town terms, this is basically a lush garden!
When we moved in, it was very boring and basically just a service passage. But we saw the potential and had some big dreams for this humble little space.
Thanks to a visit to the magnificent Akasha Mountain Retreat and a fair amount of Pinteresting, I decided to create a Moroccan-style space where we could relax, cook breakfast on summer mornings and entertain our friends. Now that all this is done, I may consider redecorating or replacing the siding on the outside of the house using this marietta siding company, or perhaps another more local – I’ll have to have a search around! I’ll make this so it goes with the theme of my courtyard.
My challenge when planning the space was the very hectic Woodstock wind. In this corridor it can reach around 80km’s per hour and it once picked up my dining room table. It also burns the leaves of any soft or tropical plants, so I had to plan carefully and experiment with where to put plants and what kind of plants to keep.
I wanted to use Moroccan colours and tiles to give the space the feeling of being somewhere exotic. I liked the idea of a secret courtyard, or something special hidden in the middle of the city. We replaced a big heavy gate with a garage door so that the space could double as a parking bay when we weren’t using it, and created a little planter box in the one corner that’s sheltered from the wind.
We teamed up with Builders Warehouse for the project. Builders has a huge selection of pretty much everything you need to make your outdoor space summer ready and the staff there are always so knowledgeable. They knew how to answer all our questions about what kind of paint we could use outside and which plants would survive. I do love how our courtyard turned out, but my only wish is that it could have been a bit bigger. I just had so many ideas that it was hard for me to condense it down to what could fit and what our budget was. I’ve always dreamed about having a lovely garden bench that could be placed on the outskirts of the yard so you can have a nice place to sit and have some peace and quiet. If I were to get one, I would prefer it to be made out of recycled plastic, as I’ve seen some around and they actually look just as good as normal benches. You wouldn’t know the difference and recycled plastic benches are environmentally friendly outdoor furniture so we would be helping the environment if we were to get one. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in our plans for this makeover, but I hope we can get one soon, at least when we have some more money and a bigger space.
In the end, we went way over budget. We had no idea how much building material (sand, concrete, cement) it would take to even out the uneven ground and how much paint we would need for the high walls. But it was really worth it and we’ve been spending every possible moment in our new “little Marrakesh”.
Thanks so much to Builders Warehouse for believing in our vision and supporting us in our makeover. We couldn’t have done it without you! Follow Builders on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, where they share useful tips and fun inspo.
There is no way we could have actually done this job without our trusty builder Tsepo. He’s the man who helped me calculate how much material I would need and who did all the hard work while I did the easy stuff like pot planting and paying. He’s the living best and I built him this little website in case you need someone to help with your DIY, www.capetownbuilders.com
All pictures by my friend Alex du Toit.