Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Peep Show: the Sequel (and Prequel)

(A quick synopsis of our bedroom renovation)

1865: Wallpaper merchant builds house.

1940-2000: Rooming house. Whorehouse. Flophouse. Meat-rack (nice!).

2005: Hapless, clueless South African couple purchase said property.

Week Two: Second floor tenant calls up landlady (AKA me). “So sorry to worry you, but the ceiling just fell in.”

Week Two and one day: Thankfully, no injuries or permanent concussion. Dodged ‘the-ceiling-just-fell-in’ bullet. Patch. Skim-coat. Repeat.

Day 68: Take occupancy of 2nd floor. Boiler takes final bow. Carbon monoxide escapes from every orifice. 4-yr old and I spend 9 hours in emergency room. House appears to be furious and is clearly trying to murder us (attempt #1).

Day 69: Bedroom steam-damaged walls remain pockmarked and decaying for 5 years. Inhale at own peril.

Month 10: Convince myself the room is Shabby Chic.

5 years later: Shabby Chic becomes intolerable (picture Grey Gardens).

2011: Sudden realization that original vision of creating an embellished Parisian-apartment look-a-like will obliterate budget.

2011 and then some: Slight change of scope. When prepping one wall, we discover original wallpaper in sepia tones – far from pristine but gorgeous. Room demands small semblance of decay for old time’s sake (see Palimpsest).

2011 and then some more: Inhale paint fumes all night. So worth it…

Detail of science project growing up the wall
Details and collection of French steel-cut shoe buckles
Looks nicer in this photograph than in reality
The previous, rather boring 'apartment cream' color on the walls
Detail of the mantel
Detail of 'what lay beneath'
David (painter) and I after the initial 'recapturing' of wallpaper (also, if you look at the light bulb in the reflection of the mirror, you can see the ceiling damage)

Warm grey for remainder of walls

Benjamin Moore Soot for bed backdrop

Photographs by Philippa Berrington-Blew and Craig Strydom
Photo of desk by Virginia Jarvis - Apartment Therapy


  1. Love the Synopsis...I'd forgotten about those early days!

  2. craig... you are totally worthy!

    love the house's history.

  3. Breath-taking, just spectacular. Want to put all my furnishings (sans Persian enamels) on a pyre and have you decorate my house. Could you start next week?

  4. Owow this chronicle is amazing! Love the dilapidated walls era...such a stunner...something I'd love to see in my future home one day...A house filled with stories...Always the goal! Thanks for sharing!


    Haute Khuuture Blog

  5. How did I miss this post? HYSTERICAL!!! I absolutely love what you have done, the grey and the 'soot' are brillaint. Cannot wait to see it in the flesh.