Design dilemma

The floor in my main cottage and on my veranda is driving me totally crazy.  It is covered in pure white tiles. They would look pretty in a pristine home in the city but here they are just so impractical. I have to sweep and wash the floor twice a day to keep it looking slightly reasonable but most times it just looks like we never clean. Living in close proximity to water and sand does NOT work with white tiles.  Also, living under a thatch (grass) roof creates quite a bit of dust which shows up very easily on these tiles.  To add to the mess the tiles are very old and some of them are chipped and cracked.

I have always planned to renovate this cottage. My dreams of what I would really like to do are outside of my current budget so I need to find a way to improve the building in such a way that I can continue to make changes as I can afford them.

So you may ask why I am puzzling and that I should just do the floor and then do the rest when I can.  It’s not so simple.  I have a dividing wall in the cottage which closes off the pokey pantry/wash-up area from the lounge dining room area which I would also like to change.  How exactly I want to change it is still not clear.  See below – the red line is the wall I don’t like.

If I pull down the wall I will also have to remove the cupboards that are against it – that means new cupboards which I can’t afford right now.  The cupboards are built-in, so if I change the floor and want to change cupboards at a later stage, I would then have to re-do some of the flooring which is not very practical. The same goes for the wall.

One option with the wall is that I just break it down to the cupboard level and make the cupboards into an island – I could leave a portion of the wall up just to screen the washing-up area.  This was what I was going to do until a friend who visited (who is a developer and has designed and built many designer homes, hotels and lodges) suggested I move the wall further out and split my lounge off – make the kitchen bigger to incorporate a dining area and open the whole front of the cottage onto the veranda with folding doors.  This sounds so wonderful but I am sure it is going to be so over my current budget.  If I go this route, which is probably the best way to go, I will be living in dust and cement for months while I do parts slowly as there is no way I would manage to install new cupboards at this stage.

Right now I really don’t care what I do but I have to get rid of the floor before I go stir crazy! I want to replace the tiles with a screed floor similar to one of these – preferably not a light colour.

I like the top two on the right and the bottom one on the right.  One can even insert some type of pattern, pebbles or even wood to make an edge or design similar to  the picture below although I would not go for this type of pattern but rather a type of edging or border around the room.

Anyone got any wonderful suggestions before I rip the cottage to shreds?


15 thoughts on “Design dilemma

  1. you could go traditional and do a dung floor? They are pretty durable and actually smell wonderful (I think so anyway).
    And its a fairly cheap option as a stopgap until you have the budget for the big changes.
    Loving your blog, by the way!


    • Funny you say that – I saw a dung floor just yesterday and thought fleetingly that it may be a temprary solution. I just need to find the dung – I wonder if wildebeest poop would work?


  2. Are there people there that you could do a trade of services with? Because of the bad economy, most of the people I know who need major changes done to houses, yards, etc. (if they can’t do the work themselves) will trade for it. My girlfriend traded her marketing services for the supplies, then traded her gardening and landscaping talents for the installation of the new flooring in her place.

    It’s just a thought…

    I agree with your visitor’s idea, though, of moving the wall out and making a bigger kitchen area.


    • I always try to look for ways to trade and barter first, however, most of the labourers in the area are quite poor – I may be able to trade for goods – will have to see. They really do need money though. For the supplies I will have to hunt around a bit – may have to buy things new from the shops 😦


  3. I recommend that you take a lot of time searching for kitchen design ideas that fit with your character before you decide to come to a kitchen design store. This way you’ll have an idea that is more focused so that the seller may help you find a design that matches your kitchen.


  4. The floors in your pictures are colored, patterned and/or stamped concrete. Your white tiles are attached to concrete. You wouldn’t be able to tear out the existing tiles and have someone create a nice looking concrete floor for you. They would need to also bust out the old concrete and start new. A more economical and less labor intensive solution to the white tile problem would be to just put new tile in. It will be a pain to remove the old tile and prepare the area for new tile but it would still be less work and money.

    Perhaps some locally quarried stone tiles would work?

    Good luck.

    ps – that’s a great looking cottage


    • ouch – that sounds bad. There are locally quarried slate tiles here but they cost more than screed floors and are quite dark – I need light in the cottage. Why cant we just screed over the concrete below the tiles?


    • yeah – its poop – the local people mix it with mud and water etc to make a type of cement. The dung used is from cows -grass eating creatures so their faeces is reasonably clean and when dry doesnt smell. Dung floors were used by the dutch settlers many years ago.


  5. I thought first of a wooden floor, but maybe that’s no option. Anyway, some kind of terra cotta color would be better than white.
    Then I would make a hole in the wall and have like a “bar-kitchen”.


    • Yeah – I like wooden floors but because of the heat here – we need a cool floor and wood is warmer than tile or concrete. Thank you for the suggestions – that’s what i was thinking too 🙂


  6. I love the idea of flooring decorated with pebbles…. I have found a place in jhb with really reasonably priced pebbles (but u can probably get them cheaper there?) and would be excited to help!


  7. first, check out it’s a great free website that lets you play around with design ideas. i use it ALL the time for trying to figure out a good layout for the cottage i’m wanting to build.

    personally, i am not a fan of super open floor plans. it’s just too noisy for me. i’d choose a bigger kitchen with room for friends to sit with me while i cooked than a totally open kitchen/living area. plus, sometimes you want to make a huge mess in the kitchen and then hide it from your guests!

    as to the cabinet issue, have you considered just having open shelves? they are much cheaper and, in my opinion, much more attractive and functional than cabinets, which i hate. it is also a good way to keep yourself from collecting clutter in the kitchen! my favorite kitchen picture is here (and that is a GREAT website for finding design ideas on).


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