Tips & Techniques

Inside a colourful heritage home in Cape Town's Paarl

Apr 25, 2017

A structural and colour makeover modernises and brightens a heritage home in Paarl while retaining its history.


It took two years for art director Francois Pretorius and business owner Daniell Visser to find their dream home in Paarl. They had been disillusioned with what they’d seen on the market; often a house’s intrinsic character had either been renovated away, leaving no room for interpretation, or new additions – like a closed-in stoep leading off the kitchen, turned into a bathroom – had made the layout disorientating.

This century-old, two-bedroom, terraced cottage was different: It had defined, original shapes with which to work. The very same shapes, in fact, that on first inspection made the house seem small, dark and claustrophobic, were opened up and dressed in new colours to form the thick-walled, solid, characterful skeleton around which their home could grow.

Inside a colourful heritage home in Cape Town's Paarl

Featured image: The kitchen cabinetry is painted in Plascon Double Velvet Soft Lead (P1-E1-4). This image: The exterior of the house is painted in Plascon Wall & All Bali Deep (EC 46) with white trim.


A lengthy nine-month renovation provided ample time to Pinterest and plan. The hard part was holding back and not spending money on frivolous items that would lock the couple into a colour scheme. Instead, they focused on spending more on fittings and finishes, and waited to see what the house dictated and how they could make their existing furniture work.

One colour they were set on for the exterior was grey. Through an exploration of Plascon greys, they not only found the colour for the outside, but what would become the signature interior grey: Plascon Aluminium Snow (EC 45).

Because the cottage was built just after the turn of the 20th century, Francois and Daniell had to adhere to heritage regulations, one of which pertains to exterior amendments such as colour. They sent off their preferred list, and Plascon Bali Deep (EC 46) was approved.

“For the inside, we painted several swatches of colours we had thought we wanted to go with – orange, grey, yellow.” One colour Daniell describes as a burnt orange and chocolate mix really wasn’t working, and they knew they needed to relinquish their imagined palette and let the space prescribe. While paging through a Plascon Colour Forecast, they came across a striking green, and began investigating the range.

This is how they fell in love with Plascon Urban Charm (Y5-D1-2). “Initially I was concerned about a khaki green being muddy, but it has surprised me,” says Francois. “The green wall in the lounge and the grey kitchen were the first indication of how our colours were working together. At that stage we had to wait for the roof. There was so much still to do, but I knew, just in that space, that the colours were working well,” says Francois. “Funnily enough it was the green that I felt brought all our existing furniture and colours together.”

Inside a colourful heritage home in Cape Town's Paarl


The couple had to suspend their preconceived colour schemes yet again for the loft conversion into the master bedroom. Initially they were both keen on yellow – possibly a yellow feature wall – but just how much and which hue was still to be decided. Once they had moved in, however, and their yellow penny round tiles in the wet room were laid, all bets were off . The introduction of Plascon Bovine (EC 47) upstairs was Daniell’s idea. Francois was keen on all-white everything – a role reversal, as it had been Daniell who wasn’t sure about all the colour downstairs.

“I’m still tempted to paint our entire room Plascon Bovine!” admits Daniell with a laugh. Instead, and perhaps until he gets his way, the Plascon Aluminium Snow downstairs is the predominant colour. Here it takes on an entirely new hue set against the white ceiling board and original beams, which are cladded with superwood and painted Plascon Polvin white, and flooded with natural light from the sky lights.

Inside a colourful heritage home in Cape Town's Paarl

In the master bedroom loft conversion, Francois was keen on all-white, while Daniell wanted colour. They compromised and used downstair’s Plascon Aluminium Snow (EC 45), which takes on an entirely new hue with natural light cast from the skylights. Daniell insisted on introducing Plascon Bovine (EC 47) on the wall between the bedroom and walk-in en suite and on the bathroom walls; an outstanding contrast to the yellow Douglas Jones penny round tiles in the shower.


Francois (who moved from the city to Paarl to join his partner) and Daniell chose to theme the spare bedrooms with friends in mind, picturing who would be coming from the city to stay with them. Francois made use of his design skills to pair colours, working with Photoshop and InDesign and using online samples to get an idea. In the end, the colour they selected for the second spare bedroom, Plascon Cashmere Shy Pink (R5-C2-2), was a spur-of-the moment decision. “I asked the builder to go and get this pink,” says Francois, “and he was like, ‘Don’t you want to do a sample?’ and I said, ‘No, I like the name; I want this colour!’“ His instinct was right and the pretty, powdery pastel works perfectly with Plascon Aluminium Snow. It’s now his favourite room.

Inside a colourful heritage home in Cape Town's Paarl

Despite their love for interiors, art and décor (and online shopping, jokes Francois) and a lengthy nine month renovation – ample time to plan and shop – the couple decided instead to wait to see what the house dictated and how they could make their existing furniture work. Now, colourful patterned pieces are accents that add personality and interest, with the wall colours – predominantly Plascon Aluminium Snow (EC 45) and Urban Charm (Y5-D1-2) in the living areas – pulling it all together.


With the renovation, the house became layered, from the Plascon Urban Charm entrance and lounge, where the two relax and watch TV, to the Plascon Aluminium Snow kitchen, quite literally the centre and heart of the home, and the dining room that flows onto the entertainment area. The floors needed a white treatment when it was discovered that, underneath the chocolate-brown and red-tinged paint, the wood was patchy and uneven. A layer of Plascon Floor Paint in white (TFW 6000), and ceilings and beams painted in Plascon One Coat white lightened, modernised and created continuity.

Inside a colourful heritage home in Cape Town's Paarl


Stacking doors replaced a sticky, old slider to lead from the kitchen to the veranda, which received a cosmetic upgrade to make it a functional living space. A tongue-and-groove IsoBoard ceiling and trio cornice were installed, the braai was redesigned with herringbone red brick, and the walls were painted in Plascon Urban Charm, referencing the interior.

A grey couch with colourfully patterned throw pillows, a bright blue Acapulco Inspired chair, coffee table, and rug all combine to create a comfortable indoor-outdoor space. “In the afternoons when I get home, usually after Daniell, I’ll find him sitting on the couch outside, reading or drinking a glass of wine and chilling with the dogs. It’s such a nice space, because you don’t end up walking straight to the TV in the evenings,” says Francois.

They also enclosed the stoep with stacking shutters, which makes it the ideal indoor-outdoor entertaining space, no matter the weather. Closed to create protection from the summer sun, the adjustable slats let in light and shadow. “What’s so lovely about letting the light in, sometimes partially from the shutters, is that the colours on the walls change so much,” says Francois. “The grey goes from blue to silver, and the green goes brighter or deeper. From the morning to the evening, the colours evolve and adapt.”

Inside a colourful heritage home in Cape Town's Paarl

Inside a colourful heritage home in Cape Town's Paarl

The neutrality of Plascon Aluminium Snow (EC 45) allowed the couple to exercise their love of colour by choosing bright accents.

Inside a colourful heritage home in Cape Town's Paarl

The veranda received a cosmetic upgrade to make it a comfortable living and entertaining space. Enclosing it with sliding shutters means it’s now functional no matter the weather, and the couple were able to choose lighting and furniture that’s not specifically for exterior use. A door out to the veranda was added to give this spare bedroom its own entrance, allowing visitors the independence to come and go.