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Playing House – A Decor Diary

by Rethabile Ramaphakela

Décor Diary Snapshot:

  1. Apartment/House: Apartment
  2. Location/Town: North Riding (Don’t Judge)
  3. Square Metres: 63 (Tiny, right?)
  4. Number of bedrooms: 2
  5. Number of bathrooms: 1 

It’s the one day that every girl dreams of. It’s the day that she will only truly be happy. A day which she longs for, for all the growing days of her life.

It’s the day she buys her own place.

And it is on that day that she will live happily ever after.

But we all know that life is nothing like what we read about in fairytales.

Two years ago, I finally decided to commit to something. I decided to sign a purchase agreement on a new development in North Riding (yes, I know it’s far out but just stay with me here).

This was a new development by new developers and it took two years for the damn thing to be finished (offplan vs. here is a house right now – well the jury is still out on that one). And in those two years, I sat and waited and wondered if it would look anything like the pictures they sell you in the fancy brochure.

In these two years people would ask “Well have you started buying anything for your place yet?” My answer was always a firm “No!” Like I said, I am a bit of commitment phobe and the thought of buying white plates two years before actually moving in scared the crap out of me. I mean what if white plates weren’t a thing by the time I moved in? So I bought nothing.

Fast-forward to April 2015. I signed my life away and got married to a twenty year old debt which will probably outlast most of your marriages.

Like any marriage, it truly is the honeymoon phase. You look at the place and imagine all the possibilities. The colour you will paint the walls, the furniture you will fill it with and then you actually start using your Pinterest account (if you can even remember your password).

The main challenge I had was with space. The place is tiny and I had to come up with ways to optimize the space without making it feel smaller. Now, you probably don’t know this but I’ve always had a knack for décor. When I was 13, I painted my room bright orange and pink (all four walls, feature walls didn’t exist then) and it remained that way till I moved out at 28.

Still I decided to soldier on with Project House 2015.

The first thing I tackled was the issue of counter space in the kitchen. There was literally no space for me to prepare the meals for all the fancy dinner parties that I planned to have. Luckily for me, a friend of mine was also moving into her own place at the time and she happened to Instagram this….

From the moment that I saw it, I knew that I needed it. So I hounded Natalie Roos (check out here amazing blog here) till she let me know where she got the table. That was my first trip to Builder’s Warehouse, I didn’t know then that it would be my new weekend hangout spot. I bought the worker’s bench, assembled it with my brother and then got Bra Frank to help me paint it white. Till this day, it’s still my favourite piece in my house.

The next step was tackling the feature walls. I walked into every room and basically, in Oprah’s voice, said “You Get a feature wall! You get a feature wall! Every room gets a feature wall!” I wanted a blue wall in the lounge, a chalkboard wall in the 2nd bedroom and a purple feature wall in the main bedroom. I love colour and things that pop. This place needed to pop. Even Bra Frank, my painter, had a look of disgust when he saw the paint colours I chose. But in the end, after 3 coats, lots of turpentine and calls to Bra Frank about redoing it, it looked fantastic and again it got me excited. I was still in the honeymoon phase and the sex was great!

The next few days were spent cramming what I should’ve done over two years; trawling every décor website in SA. Phoning friends and asking for opinions. Making my way to a different @Home, Mr. Price and Coricraft every weekend hoping that maybe the stock and prices had changed. I wanted too many furniture pieces for the small space. And, yes, I probably was ambitious – the space is small and the colours I chose made it smaller but on the Pinterest board that was in my head, it all made sense. Except for one thing… the prices.


I needed things like blinds (because ain’t nobody got time to wash curtains), I also wanted shutters (because… I like things!). Side Note: The shutters are probably the most ridiculously priced items in my place but they are so worth all of the money that I spent. And I did spend all of the money. The fridge. The microwave. The washing machine. The coffee table. The TV stand. The TV. The bed. The sleeper couch. The astro turf. The pedestals. The pictures. The frames.

I got sick of it all. It was no longer fun. It was a mammoth task that I didn’t think I could finish and I didn’t think my bank account could either. Cue my nervous breakdown. “Why am I doing this? I should’ve just lived with my parents for the rest of my life.” But that’s the thing with marriage, you’re in it for the long haul unless you’re Kim Kardashian.

It all became too much, the feature walls would glare at me and say “what else?” The living would shout back “Where is the couch?” Everything was too loud. So I stopped.

I had to stop, take a break and then come back and look at it with new eyes or it would drive me crazy. I still know there is so much to do but what I have is the making of a home and from what I can gather the work is never really done. Much like a marriage.

So now I try and enjoy it. Sit back with a bottle of wine. Dance naked whilst listening to the Spice Girls and even though there is still so much to be done, it’s kinda like the way I always imagined it.

In the insanity of it all. It seems worth it…

This is my happily ever after.

Roxy: What aesthetic or look and feel were you going for overall? Colour palette, theme, etc.?

Retti: I don’t know if there was a specific look and feel I was going for, I just wanted to offset all the white with pops of colour. So it was about finding an ornament or item that would make the room pop.

Roxy: Describe the vibe in the master bedroom?

Retti: The vibe is sexual frustration. J My feature wall is a sexy purple that I painted and recently I put up a gigantic picture of myself in Mexico. If that doesn’t scream single female, I don’t know what does. It’s warm, and that is what I wanted to go for with the wooden floors, wooden blinds and a wooden sleigh-bed.

Roxy: What do you think is the most unique décor item in your home?

Retti: My Instagram photo wall. All my fav photos framed to create my own Insta Wall.

Roxy: What would you still like to do in this space?

Retti: Get all my pictures up. That’s literally all I still need to do. Oh, and sort out my balcony. In summer it will be a tranquil garden space.

Rethabile Ramaphakela is a powerhouse. She is part owner of Burnt Onion Productions and the sarcastic, yet loveable, voice of V-Entertainment. She has a wicked sense of humour, which means you should read her 140s. Follow @Retini on Twitter.

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