Going Smaller in the City


I stopped adding posts in 2018 but this surprise lockdown provided a lot of time to reflect, clean out and revisit the things I really love – and I love decor. In my own space I treat it like a production. Items move around, colour highlights come and go, art disappears and gets replaced with plants and smaller installations depending on the occasion, my mood and the time of the year.

Early 2017 we sold our grand madame in Paarl and decided, with both kids in hostel, to slow down, scale down and get rid of old, broken, not functional or unnecessary things. There is nothing glamorous about this process because we all get attached to things for so many reasons. We collect, add more or do the wrong DIY trend to fix a not-so-perfect piece.

I’m the minimalist and hate things. I got it from my mum. I remember in high school we had to clean out our cupboards every school holiday and could only get new clothes if we could identify pieces to give to needy causes, upcycle a few or if it was too small. Her cupboards were always immaculate, filled with what we need and what she liked, but with her teacher’s salary she was passionately balancing function and form.

So we decided to move to the city – another story for another day, but in short:

  • We kicked off with 2 months in a Tamboerskloof Airbnb and checked out all the different areas.
  • We found a beautiful spot in Sea Point – very high ceilings, cement floors, white fixtures and beautiful light fittings.
  • We decided to try it for 6 months and see if the city is our thing.
  • We selected 23 of the 68 boxes in storage to only unpack 14 and the rest remained in storage.
  • We had very few good pieces of furniture left and decided to purchase not-so-serious pieces from the Sofa Company.
  • It was our first rental. Our very Calvinistic upbringing forced us to buy and suffer from a very young age. My dad believed you buy property and rental is money in the water.
  • We had to adjust from 435 to 107 square meters – but only for 6 months.

The 6 months turned into a 30-month adventure. Holidays with both kids and working from home became a challenge but playing with the decor was a lovely affair. The word ‘temporary’ was the main brief so we had to find innovative ways to add wall detail but my daughter Emma was ready with her paintbrush.



Emma painted a few abstact flowers to create a border between the lounge and the dining area – just for fun and texture.



The bedroom was bright and sunny but I was missing a bit of noise to complement the chandelier. Emma painted detail to represent a touch of paneling.



The dining area was more like a covered balcony and my playroom – sometimes a work space for me and the husband but also my imaginary greenhouse.




The kitchen was tiny but with a foodie landlord the space was well planned with loads of cupboards.  I used a very old Ronel Jordaan velt piece to create a whimsical curtain to soften the very functional spot.


We had the luxury of a 3rd bedroom so often we celebrated the city with quests from the platteland.  I used a set of mirrors, production samples from another project to add a bit of city bling.

(Read about the mirror implementation in my post:  The Rondebosch Completed)




City living is difficult.

The adjustment from a small town in a big house to a small space is difficult.

Finding parking, a good butcher and other essential items take time.

Making friends is a challenge but the city offers so many other wonderful things.

Living in a small space with less things can work but it requires a mindshift and a few fresh approaches to every day life.


“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”
                                                G.K. Chesterton.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Lizelle Gibbens says:

    Loved your story and lived through every stage in my imaganation.
    You are extreemly talented( and your daughter Emma).
    Well done

  2. Tracy says:

    Looove reading your work. So capturing and inspiring!

  3. Jaco Bruwer says:

    Engela dis omtrent ‘n storie om af te skaal. Vandat ek en Naomi in julle plekkie was daar in die Strand met geverfde sementvloere het ons geweet julle is baie kunssinnig. Kyk uit na jou volgende blog inskrywing en groete aan Jannie.

    1. engeladutoit says:

      dankie Jaco – ja jong my brein is net gelukkig as hy strategie en kreatief kan meng – mooi loop

  4. Marli says:

    Ohhhh kan nie wag vir nog updates!
    Ek LOVE you post, dis inspirerend!
    Big luvs

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