I was in Masiphumelele on Sunday.

Everyone knows that Masi is famous for its gardens. But do they mention the garden walls?

This patterned wall hit a high note for me. I purr when I see how colours work on such basic plastering.

Masi was once an informal settlement near Kommetjie in the deep south. Now it’s much less informal. The people of Masi are building big walls around their (double storey, often) places and painting them with feeling.

Ok, that’s decided. I’m going to Masi again this Sunday. If that truck moves off the pavement I’ll shoot all 12 metres of this pattern magic. Hopefully the artist will be in residence too.


Image: ‘A Drifter’

These images from ‘A drifter off to see the world’ remind me of the pink neon bowl by Kerstin Eser and Kim Bougaardt that’s part of the current installation at the Freeworld Design Centre.

Installation by Kerstin Eser & Kim Bougaardt – currently at Freeworld Design Centre

The story about ‘Saffron Sunsets‘ is lovely. So is Kersti and Kim’s colour pod at Freeworld Design Centre. A little neon, like a strand of saffron, makes a big impact.

The current installation comes down today in preparation for the next exhibition opening on 26 June, called ‘Street Style’ – in collaboration with Ed Suter’s book Sharp Sharp.  Save the date.


Sourced from Pinterest

When I’m not writing, and planning work projects, I like to paint and potter. You can waste hours and hours painting, and get a lot of thinking done at the same time. So it’s not such a waste. I sorted out a list as long as my arm, and hatched a few ideas, plans and schemes while standing with my nose to this wall. I even worked out what to give my 16 favourite friends for Christmas and where to shop for them. I’m so far with Christmas shopping after this wall, those gifts are as good as wrapped.

One of my favourite paints is the stuff I used on this wall. Worn Leather paint. It goes on one colour and as it dries, it shifts colour organically and becomes chalky and interesting. I used three colours, and enjoyed working the paint in and blending the lines between each colour, which you have to do while your brush is still quite wet. I think it works really well on bagged walls. Worn Leather is an Earthcote paint, from Paint&Place shops in S.A. It needs a coat or two of Earthcote Wall Wax as a sealing coat, once dry.

About the Christmas shopping. That’s not entirely true.


When I was little, we were often taken on holiday to visit our granny who lived in Cradock in the Karoo, in a house with a sign on the gate that said Carrington Lodge. It was lovely to sit on Granny’s lap. But if you weren’t on her lap, Carrington Lodge felt a little bit creaky and a lot spooky, for some reason. Maybe it was just that I was very small.

Out in the yard there was a row of cold unventilated garages which once were used to park carriages. Inside one of these, there were even remnants of an almost working carriage that nobody wanted to get rid of. Then, in the garden, there was the chicken run. From time to time, there’d be a ritual killing of chickens for supper. After the chicken was beheaded by Granny’s gardener, we’d watch, stunned, while it ran around till it dropped into the petunias. Running around like a chicken without a head. Isn’t that how the saying goes? All completely normal.

It was always wintertime in Cradock. I remember it being cold much more than it being hot. In wintertime in Cradock it was hard to get out of bed in the middle of the night. If you had to get out of bed for a pee, you had to walk down a passage past Granny’s room, over ice cold slippery old mosaic tiles, under the gaze of a stuffed kudu staring you out from above an archway with a velvet curtain. I was scared of the kudu, and I thought something would jump out from behind the velvet and give me a big skrik.

So I never did go down that passage until after sunrise. I always stayed in my room.

Granny believed in potties.

I wish Granny had had a friend like Jacques Erasmus from Hemelhuis Restaurant in Cape Town. Jacques might have encouraged her to do a friendly thing around the kudu trophy. It would have been so much easier to go down that passage if there had been tear-outs of Barbara Barnard from Fair Lady, and some unwanted sheet music, and the comic pages from Farmers Weekly or a Prince Valiant annual. Maybe a poster of Four Jacks and  a Jill, or something.

I love how Jacques recently put up wallpaper around his friendly reindeer who presides over lunch at Hemelhuis.

I like walls that earn their keep. Have a look at the ‘plumbers’ wall’ done in Fresco here, or the plants-behaving-like animals trophy wall here. And the wall made not of bricks, but of ferns, here.

Walls don’t have to be plain. Or boring. Or scary.

Grandmother’s Room – from the Earthcote Heritage Collection.


I know, it’s bit of a cliche. But painting really can be quite meditative, I think. Today I painted an old Victorian bamboo chest.  (Sacrilege? Is it really? Sorry, I think painting it white looks much nicer than natural).

While painting I sorted out a lot of stuff. I planned the rearranging of furniture in a few rooms, visualised a veggie garden, organised my week, got an idea for the lamb chops for supper, and remembered where I’d put a pile of super-NB documents. I also zoned out for a short spell and arrived back on earth feeling like I’d had a whole weekend already.

When you paint, you can’t multi-task. You can only stand (or if possible, sit) in one place, stay in the moment, and enjoy the feel of the brush dragging that magical change-making stuff onto whatever thing you’re painting. If you try to rush it or decide halfway through that you hate it, I promise you this. That thing that you’re painting will look ugly. Painting and resentment aren’t good together.

And painting gives you time to think. Today I thought about Kelvin, our house-painter who passed away last year. Kelvin was a proper painter. He painted so beautifully, you could see and feel the peace in his work. I loved watching him paint. I also thought of Mogamet, who made magic tricks happen with plaster type finishes. Another old pro, gone too soon.


Painted in Midas Fresco ‘Lekker White’. A gritty look, reduced VOC eco paint for exteriors.

A couple of days ago I sent a postcard with the Before picture of a plumber’s rodding eye. An uninspiring looking widget that’s unlikely to win any design awards.

This is the AFTER shot, once we’d painted the wall in Fresco, screwed them in and popped in some ferns. I’m liking this wall a lot. I love a bit of a vertical garden.  For a few more variations on the theme, have a look at Grow It Yourself. Amazing things are possible.

PRODUCTION: Penny Waterkeyn & Jenny Mason


A poster by Alice Edy, South African illustrator / writer / maker of stuff. Part of a visual essay on Jozi, it caught my eye in a flip around the Toffie Festival in Cape Town this weekend. The Robert Frost words are beautiful.

Outside, there was this tree, looking like it’s been crisped under the grill, and more than ready to let go of Summer ’11.

'Fallen Leaf Yellow' from the Earthcote heritage collection of colours in Zero VOC acrylics


Rivers of peacefulness and calm. Giant tributaries of prettiness.

In an earlier post this week, The House of God & The Office of the President, I promised to send a postcard or two of Groote Kerk in Adderley Street, Cape Town, a few steps away from where my desk is in the city.

The ceilings look like they were iced by someone who does wedding cakes. This church is hundreds of years old. It is beautiful.

The interior and exterior walls of Groote Kerk were recently repainted in no odour Zero VOC Midas Envirolite.


The Rodding Eye: 'BEFORE'

What the?

They’re called rodding eyes. Plumbers wouldn’t be seen dead without them.

If you run into a couple of dozen of these widgets and they’re going begging, accept them with open arms.

Ya, I say hold onto your rodding eyes. buy a few plants, and get out your electric screwdriver and drill. Pick a pretty textured paint for the wall, and soon you could have a whole new vertical garden in the making.

Or something.

Art director Penny Waterkeyn and I worked out a crafty plan to make these unphotogenic bits of nothingness live a worthwhile life.

The AFTER shot will be on its way in a day or two.

They didn’t have a colour called Rodding Eye in the Envirolite palette, so Madness will have to do, for today.

Madness: one of 300 colours from the Midas Envirolite Zero VOC eco-wise paint range.


All photos: Elle Decoration for Freeworld Coatings / . Production: Laureen Rossouw

Last Sunday it was the Argus and we were grounded for most of the day in Kalk Bay. No driving, no shopping, no going anywhere except to the coffee shop on the corner and down to the harbour for fish ‘n chips. Perfect. I took it obscenely easy.

This Sunday is different. Besides scribbling a few lines on my blog this morning, I am uncharacteristically busy for a Sunday.

This is because we found another house that we want to do things to. So we’re selling. One of the realities of selling is show day. Today is it.

People want to know how we can do this so often. Oh geesh, I don’t know. But we can, and we do, and, mad as it might seem, we actually love doing it.

Did I say just that? Yes, I believe I did.

Only I’ll admit there are two things I love very little about Revamping and Relocating. The one is show Sundays and the other is moving day. Don’t love.

Last time the agent told me: “Don’t go to too much trouble, dear, please don’t do a whole lot, it’s nice seeing a house looking lived in.”

Really? Really really?

I think one person’s lived-in is another person’s tip. So I just tidy and I clean and I polish buttery finger prints off the bread bin and the fridge and do my best to hunt down and remove banana peels and stray popcorn and sweet wrappers that have found their way to far-flung corners of the house, which might get seen by lookers. That kind of stuff does not a dream house make.

Are you really so messy?

I don’t think I’m messy. I think I’m normal. Anyone who actually lives showhouse-like has got to be more boring than a Marmite sandwich.

The pictures up at the top are of my house behaving like a show house for a day.  They were done by the Elle Deco production team for a shoot. I do love these picture. I can almost smell the apple fragrance fabric softener in my freshly ironed sheets. That’s the thing. On show day you polish all the grease out of your elbows and you pick up, put away and  arrange fresh roses in pretty vases, and make nice. Then you stand back and you think.

You think  W h y .  A c t u a l l y.   G o  .   N o w  ?

PHOTOS: Elle Decoration for Freeworld Coatings PRODUCTION: Laureen Rossouw