Fynboshoek Cottage

During the middle of our trip, we stayed in an awesome farmhouse/cottage in Stormsrivier.  We found the place on Airbnb and I knew immediately that we needed too stay there!  There was no electricity, but the place did have running water.  It was a simple but beautiful place to stay.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay there.  It was also located on a working dairy farm.  We were glad to get out of cities and stay out in the country, where it was dark, quiet, and peaceful.

The front of the house, with the large Dutch door
The front of the house, with the large Dutch door
Me in front of the cottage- here you can see the size of the Dutch door a little better
Me in front of the cottage- here you can see the size of the Dutch door a little better

The house was made of earth materials almost entirely sourced on the property.  I think the walls were a straw/sod sort of material- no bricks were used.  It was then covered with plaster, both inside and out.  The door was a gorgeous, solid, thick wooden Dutch door.  The hardware was clearly hand forged.

Fynboshoek Cottage
View of the main living area from the loft- you can see the bookshelves and other nooks here, as well as the fireplace
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Another view from the loft- you can get a sense of the height of the ceilings, as well as the additional window up above
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The living area looking towards the front door
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The sitting area and fireplace
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This is a bit blurry, but it shows the front door, as well as the wooden wall behind the couch (which is the wall that leads to the loft)
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One of the pretty bookshelves, as well as the view from the sitting area into the kitchen

There was a medium-sized living area, complete with fully stocked bookshelves (books written in various languages and boardgames), a huge fireplace, and cathedral ceilings.  The furniture was extremely comfortable as well- a large couch and an armchair. Not only was the house itself beautiful, but the textiles and wallpaper used throughout was very nice- someone knew what they were doing when they decorated the house!

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The dining table (with candle chandelier above), stove, fridge, and sink area with cabinets. The kitchen had great light thanks to french doors leading onto the patio and three other windows.
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Table in the middle, cabinets and appliances to the right, french doors to the patio and shelving with dishes on the left

The kitchen wasn’t huge but was perfect and beautiful.  There were cabinets along the right wall, with soapstone counters, along with a gas oven/stove, a sink, and a refrigerator/freezer.  On the left side, there were open shelves stocked with plenty of dishes and baking/cooking tools.  In the middle, there was a rustic farmhouse table with a candlelit chandelier above.  The water was heated by a gas.  When you turned the hot water handle, it started a flame that then heated the water as it went through the pipes- very cool!

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The outdoor patio, accessed either from the hallway or the kitchen

Off the kitchen, there was a outdoor patio.  It had a rustic pergola above, and a table and benches for sitting.  This bordered the farm’s garden.  There were lots of small monkeys in the trees behind the patio.

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The hall from the living area to the main bedroom and bathroom. The stairs lead up to the loft above
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The bathroom- subway tile on walls and pretty vanity with mirror on the right
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The sink and mirror. This room also had a gorgeous wooden door with hand forged handle
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The shower, which was open to the room but had a glass wall dividing it from the toilet, which is out of the picture to the right

There was a small hallway from the living room to the bathroom and main bedroom. The bathroom was very nice.  There was an open shower (typical in South Africa), a very nice wide vanity with sink, and a toilet.  The walls were white subway tile and the floors were a slate-like stone.

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Sorry this picture is blurry- the pretty bed with beautiful bedding, nightstands, as well as one of the built-in-the-wall shelves. The window sills in the house were very thick, providing lots of places to put fresh flowers
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The other side of the bedroom

The main bedroom was quite spacious.  There was a bed made from wood on the property, two side tables, and a couple of built-in shelves.  It was quaint an nice.

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Two twin beds in the loft
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The pretty view from the loft’s window

Above the bathroom and main bedroom there was a large loft.  It was accessed by a set of narrow, steep stairs.  There were two twin beds, as well as an armchair.  There was a small window, and the loft overlooked the main living space.  The ceilings were actually pretty high for a loft.  I’m not particularly tall, but I think even my dad could stand up comfortably in most of it.

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My mom reading as the sun started to go down

We ate dinner before it got dark, then lit all of the many candles for some light as dusk hit.  Our host had wood all set up in the fireplace for a fire, so we also had a nice fire to provide light and warmth.  We played cards in the candlelight.  We had to be up very early in the morning, so I also took a shower in the candlelight.  I was worried it would be too dark, but it was actually quite quaint and nice.

We really wished we could have spent at least one more night here.  It was gorgeous, and after many nights staying in medium-sized cities (which we aren’t very used to), it was nice to be out in the country.  I think it would have been a great place to relax for a day or two.  I also would have liked to see more of the farm, but we were there for such a short amount of time.

Day 5 in South Africa: Garden Route (Plettenberg Bay, Tsitsikamma National Park, Storms River Village)

April 26, 2016

*Note: The post is truncated due to length- please click on “read more” to see the rest of the post!

Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay

We headed out from our apartment by 9:00 AM and headed along the Garden Route towards Plettenberg Bay.  We stopped at Plettenberg Bay for a bit, and walked along the beach.  There was a small mountain of rocks at the end of the beach, with a little bench up on top, so we climbed up the rocks.  I wasn’t wearing shoes, so I climbed up barefoot- probably not the best idea, but I survived without any injuries or cuts.  We checked out the pretty views, then got back in the car and headed onwards.

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Door Room: Senior Year

It’s taken me awhile to post this year’s dorm room tour, but here it is!  I’m living in an on-campus apartment this year, but today I’m just going to share the bedroom I share with one roommate.  It’s quite small, definitely the smallest room I’ve had in my four years here.  That said, the wardrobes don’t fit in the bedroom and all 5 of us keep our wardrobes in the living room of the apartment.  It isn’t ideal, but at least the living room is big, and it works.  (Also, I apologize for the poor-quality photos- at this point I just didn’t want to wait to take better ones)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bed sits against the wall, and I store a bunch of stuff underneath the bed.  My dresser stands next to my bed.  I store my lotions and such on top of the dresser.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove my bed is a photo collage that I’ve added to throughout the year.  There is a small nook between my bed and my desk, which is where I put my hamper, garbage, and yoga mat.  Above those are my whiteboards/bulletin board.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe top whiteboard/bulletin board is where I keep a bunch of inspirational quotes, as well as a countdown to my Peace Corps departure (only 103 days- eek!).  Below that is a calendar for all of my school-related stuff and some of my jewelry storage.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy desk has a double shelf on top, which I love!  On the side of my desk, I used command hooks to hang a clipboard and smaller whiteboard.  On the wall by the door is my Katie Daisy calendar- which I love!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the shelves, I keep photos in frames, a few of my ceramics, my journals and sketches, and such.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s another view, where you can see the bulletin/whiteboards to the right.  I still want to hang something above the desk, but haven’t figured out what yet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe top of my dresser.  For awhile, all of my lotions and such were just randomly scattered all over the top, but I finally got a little basket to corral everything.

So, there you go!  Hopefully, I can get some photos of the rest of the apartment up soon.

Bedroom Makeover Reveal!!

About two years ago, I decided my bedroom was in need of a major overhaul.  I painted it, and then it sat, waiting to be finished, until this past week!  I am so, so happy with it, even though my original vision is quite different from what I ended up with.  After many long months and hard work, I finally took some photos to share.

Without further adieu….

2015-07-20 15.37.39To remind you what it looked like before, here is a photo of a similar view:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs much as I loved the yellow, it was a bit much, and the arrangement of the furniture made the room feel really big and empty.  I painted the walls a light blue (I was really going for more of a mint color, but I ended up with a light blue, which ended up working out just fine).  I also painted the ceiling a slightly darker shade of blue than the walls.  I then rearranged the furniture, eventually settling on putting the bed in front of the window.  2015-07-20 15.15.22
Because the room has slanted walls, the only place for the bed that really made sense was to center it on this wall, which meant placing it in front of the window.  I made some curtains from fabric I got on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics.  To make the bed seem less awkward in front of the window, I hung the curtains so that they would be wider than the bed.

2015-07-20 15.16.57This is the view of the room as you enter from the hallway.  Instead of nightstands on either side, I utilized the flat wall (there are only 2 in the room) by placing a desk on one side and a small dresser on the other.  You can also see the ceiling in this photo.   Because the ceiling is such a narrow strip, I didn’t want it to stand out.  I considered painting it the same color as the walls, but thought that might be a bit much of one color, so I painted the ceiling a shade darker than the walls.  I really like how it looks.

2015-07-20 15.18.42The desk is rather petite.  My dad and grandpa refinished it for me when I was a little girl, so it means a lot to me.  The desk top was getting rather crowded, so I mounted a couple of small wooden boxes to the wall to create little shelves that can hold pens, markers, and other odds and ends.  The chair is a simple dining room chair that I painted a beautiful dark charcoal color.

2015-07-20 15.22.52On the other side of the bed is a small glove-drawer dresser.  This was one of the biggest projects I did for the room.  I got this dresser for free from a neighbor.  Although very solid, it had been stored in a barn for quite some time, so it was grimy and had lost a lot of its luster.  I cleaned it up, painted it a bright yellow (my favorite color) and added ceramic knobs.  I am SOO happy with how it turned out.  Above, my junior and senior prom pictures flank a flower painting that my great-grandmother painted.

2015-07-20 15.24.49This corner is my favorite part of the room.  I love the way the bright yellow looks next to the curtains and the black bed.

2015-07-20 15.25.53Here you can see how everything works together.  The bed was another big project.  I knew I wanted an iron bed in here so that the light from the window wasn’t blocked, but my bed is a full, so I ran into a lot of trouble finding one that would work.  My dad was rummaging around in the garage of his office building (he owns a real estate business) and found this frame.  We measured it and it was a perfect fit!  It needed a lot of scraping and sanding to remove the old, flaking lead paint.  Then I spray-painted it a glossy black.  I can’t believe how nice it looks now!

2015-07-20 15.27.52This shows the wall to the left of the door as you walk in the room.  Because of all of the weird angles of the room, the closet was actually built into the room, which creates the bump-out you can see here (it doesn’t look too bad on the outside, but the closet has some super weird angles on the inside from the various roof lines meeting).  The small slice of wall to the right of the closet door is the perfect place for an antique mirror.  The closet is very small and has very short, slanted ceilings, so it cannot hold longer dresses.  I bought an over-the-door hanger several years ago in the hopes that I could hang dresses inside the closet, but the door won’t shut with it there, so the dresses hang outside the door.  They actually give the room some nice color, so I really don’t mind it. The chest to the right of the closet is actually my brother’s.  It is a family heirloom.

2015-07-20 15.28.15Because there are only two walls that artwork can be hung on, I wanted to make sure I took advantage of them.  This wall holds my dresser and a gallery wall.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.

2015-07-20 15.28.25This corner is my reading corner.  A simple butterfly chair is a very comfortable spot to read.

2015-07-20 15.29.41The closet also creates this little nook.  A small bookshelf holds my shoes and some board games and the top functions as my vanity area.  A wire hung with thumbtacks is the perfect place to store my earrings, and a hook holds my necklaces.  The beautiful painting was done by one of my super-talented college friend, Jess.

2015-07-20 15.31.27The right side wall holds my large bookshelf and some artwork.  The shelf was a perfect find by my parents many years ago.  It fits right under the slanted walls and holds a lot of books.  I painted it black several years ago.

2015-07-20 15.32.28I love the bright pop of color the books on the shelf add.  The bookshelf also holds my turtle collection, two of which you can see here.  The Hogwarts crest was a painting I did in middle school and it sits next to a print I made in a printmaking class at college.

2015-07-20 15.37.07The same wall, looking the other way.

2015-07-20 15.45.28One of the things I love most about the room is the large skylights.  With only one regular window, they make a big difference and flood the room with light, especially in the summer (during the winter, they sometimes get covered with a bunch of snow).

I am so, so happy with how the room turned out (even if it took me two years to finish!).  The best part is that I spent very little on the transformation.  I think all in all, including paint, the room cost under $200.  The biggest expenses were on paint for the walls and ceiling, spray paint for the bed, and paint and knobs for the yellow dresser.  The only other things I purchased were a few yard sale frames, a curtain rod ($3 from Dollar General!), and fabric for curtains (maybe $15 on clearance).

Wood floors will be installed in the entire upstairs of the house, which will take care of the only part of the room I dislike- the ugly, 30-year-old, dust allergy inducing carpet.  Woohoo!  I really can’t wait (I’ll be sure to share pictures with the new floors…someday).

And just one last before and after to show the transformation (sorry, can’t help myself!):Bedroom before and after

Dresser Makeover- Part I


I’ve been hard at work trying to finally finish my dresser makeover.  You know, the one I talked about well over a year ago?  I got an old dresser from a neighbor for free.  It was filthy but I could tell it was solidly built and I really liked the size and shape of it.  For the past year, I’ve spent 15 minutes here and there attempting to sand it down to the natural wood.  I’m not sure what kind of paint/stain was used on it, but it was taking forever.

I’ve been thinking for awhile that I really wanted a pop of bright yellow in my bedroom.  I came across an image of a yellow buffet in a dining room, and I loved it.  So I decided to paint the dresser instead of refinishing it by sanding it completely down and staining it.  After all, if I was willing to sand it down now, I can always strip it and get it back down to the natural wood in the future if I want.

Painting it also seemed like an easier option for now than what I was originally planning.  I washed the drawers really good the other day, but the dresser has been on the second floor of our garage/barn for the past year, so I was unable to get the actual dresser down on my own.  I figured my sister could help me get that down this morning, but she refused to help because the stairs are super steep and narrow.  Being the stubborn person I am (and making me realize how like my mother I am), I decided that was going to get that dresser down on my own.  Which was very possibly insane.  I told angrily told my sister that if I wasn’t back in the house in fifteen minutes to call the ambulance, and then proceeded to drag the dresser carefully down the stairs.  It wasn’t easy (and definitely not smart), but I did get it down all in one piece (and without injuring myself).  I’m waiting for it to dry now after I hosed it down, and then on to the actual painting!  Stay tuned for the actual makeover post!