World Design Capital

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It is no wonder that Cape Town was awarded the World Design Capital distinction for 2014,, which recognizes design as a tool for social, economic and cultural development. Whilst meandering the streets of the Cape Town suburb Observatory this week, this creative edge is evident everywhere, from the chandeliers made from spoons and teacups to the wall light that used to be an ice bucket. Upcycling began in the poorer regions as a means of earning an income where people collect everyday scrap metal such as soda cans and turn them into decorative ornamentation. These are then sold on the streets but have also made it into some main stream tourism outlets where the concept has then also been expanded. New items are expensive and so industrious small business owners need to get inventive.

The same inventive streak streams into aspects of everyday life as seen in these upcycled-tyre-swings in the local childrens playpark, and the giant ‘bottle-top’ elephant head observing the fun from the trees.

Next time I will look at the upcycled and recycled design features that run through the restaurant industry…..


One little piggy went to market…..

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I am moving swiftly on from my early-middle-aged laundry-rant to talk about the very ‘young and trendy’ subject of food markets. Earning a living from developing a small business in Cape Town is both incredibly popular and largely successful due to affordable staffing costs and a lesser commercialized culture, and markets are a great way for entrepreneurs to ‘market’ their wares. From local farm produce such as ‘Curds & Whey’ unpasturized milk products, to stalls of small-batch jars of coconut oil; from handmade sugar-free chocolate to wholefood salad boxes. Of course, there is also the obligatory burger and beer stall but the majority of these markets are supporting the local small enterprise that is so rife in this country.

There is one particular market that we frequent every Friday evening we are here, called the Bluebird Dinner Market in Muizenburg, which has an amazing childrens area, flowers, fruit and veg and every conceivable variation of dinner option. Here everyone sits together at over-sized refectory tables on make-shift benches made from long wooden planks balanced on plastic fruit crates, and with a vintage vase of flowers thrown in the middle of each table, the Cape Town ‘effortless chic’ is clearly in residence.

Laundry Day

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This post is a good illustration of how good design impacts lifestyle. To be honest I did not think I had reached the stage in life where this particular subject would even warrant appearing on a blog, but, hey, lets face it – everyone gets to the same point in their lives sooner or later and it is nothing to be ashamed of. I am growing up. I am talking laundry. But not any old dirty, smelly damp laundry – the kind I am talking about is fresh, white and billlowing in the breeze under a hot sun. I am talking about South African laundry. The type of laundry that makes you feel like a successful domestic goddess, just by hanging it out.

I have hung the same clothes back home over and over again and rarely felt the same satisfaction, partly due to the fact that my garden has been a work-in-progress-mud-bath for most of the year and partly because perfect laundry days are just less common. Cape Town is renowned for its blustery winds but also boasts daily summer temperatures in the high twentys. There is also a tradition to rig up the line on solid wooden structures that are positioned to catch the best sun, but hidden at the bottom of the garden.

I know this is lame, and I will stop, I promise, but just picture the scenario of lazily putting out the laundry (halo aloft) at around 11am secure in the knowledge that at around 3pm you will be able to bring it back in again – crisp, fresh and DRY. It just makes me want to get dirty………

The renovation story so far…..

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It is 7 whole days since we started the renovation work on Matts Place in Fishoek Cape Town. Progress has been interspersed with snippets of family fun/obligations but we are definitely moving forward. The parque flooring has been scrubbed and bleached and the doors, windows, walls and ceilings (and the odd lampshade/ornament here and there) have all been painted. We are going for a White on White scheme to bring in lots of light and are focusing on a fresh beachy vibe. Incidentally we are also looking to name the flat so any ideas are greatly welcomed.

We have managed to slide in a few Beaten Green classics – an up-cycled dining table that used to be a gate, a candle holder/mirror-hybrid balcony table, a ‘sash window’ mirror/shelf combination and a reduced height ‘sewing table’ side table. Oh, and we have also managed to double-up a small hall table into….well two small hall tables (ok, so not the most imaginative example).

The property will be holiday let once complete so we are now at the stage where all the furniture will be put back in place and the new furniture installed. This is where I get to play around with all the ‘props’ to ‘stage’ the space. This is actually a really big problem for me and my husband, as over the years I have become so in love with this part of the process that no-one else is allowed to actually USE any of the homewares until my precious attachment wears down slighty. Even then, I have to be careful not to re-visit too often, for fear of re-enacting the entire ‘show’. Occupational hazard or slight insanity? – discuss…..

Wine tasting for breakfast

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We took a day off today and trekked in land for about an hour to visit a beautiful vineyard in Stellenbosch called Somerbosch. We arrived in time for poached eggs and smoked salmon and finished off our breakfast with some wine tasting! Eight cases of wine later (in the boot, not our bellies) we set back off on a scenic route through Cape Town and over Chapmans Peak to Sleepy Hollow Riding Stables in Noordhoek, where we booked the annual pony trek across the beach.

The Vineyard, like most of South Africa, hosted the naturally understated charm that is so particular to this area of the world and which captures my heart each time I visit. Todays visual treats ranged from delightful table settings under the trees, to blackboard signs hung on ageing walls and from vintage cow hydes to jugfuls of hydrangeas. The only thing missing was a shady hammock and a good book, although with two three year olds in tow I think this daydream will stay just that…….

Lunchbreak today was a feast for the eyes….

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We set off this morning to view a family friends house who had asked for our ideas on improving their outside/inside BBQ area and lounge. An already beautifully minimalist property with stunning sea views. With floor plans and photos in the bag we following up this visit with a trip the biggest fabric store I have ever seen to pick out cushion and blind materials for the flat in Fishoek that we are working on. Luckily for me, my host knew of a sweet little restaurant just around the corner in Wynburg where, despite a regular waiting list, we managed to find a table for two.

January is best spent in the sun……

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That much is clear! However, Internet cafe crawling in order to locate the quickest WiFi is definitely not. South African connectivity (or lack thereof) is always something I easily forget and then am surprised and frustrated by upon my return…….so please bear with me…..the inspirational images I promised will come! Although to be fair my ‘work’ view right now is fairly forgiving, that and the glass of wine by my side. Our journey so far has been quite un-glamorous. We arrived to the first job, the day after we landed, and got stuck in. Once layouts had been designed we got stuck into bleaching beautiful old parquet flooring discovered beneath a 30 year old carpet. (Me from a distance, Matt up close and personal)…..and so the adventure begins…….image

Here Comes The Sun…La di da da

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IMG_9138I am off to South Africa again on our annual ‘working’ holiday with the family on Tuesday. The break is always incredibly inspiring, not just because of its length away from ‘real’ life but also because South Africa is an enormously creative country. I took a million photos last year and have reflected back once or twice but really feel that the inspiration from those images could go further. So, I have decided to blog from South Africa and include all the wonderful imagery that I collect over the course of the month. I hope that you enjoy it.

Christmas Inspiration

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I have been trawling Pinterest again today (nothing new there then!) for Christmas ideas to steal… are a few of my favourites:


For more Beatengreen Pinterest ideas click HERE

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