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Modern family home makeover secrets

Modern family home makeover secrets

We delve deeper into design guru Nic Criticos’ mind extracting some of his home makeover secrets for the modern family…

The addition of a small decked courtyard outside the lounge doors created indoor/outdoor flow.

The addition of a small decked courtyard outside the lounge doors created indoor/outdoor flow.

Home Makeover with Lighting

The house is typically Victorian in that rooms come off a central corridor. In this home the passage was unusually gracious and wide but, as the house is south-facing and lacked light, the impact of the space was not felt. To solve this, Nic had a custom-made skylight built, with panels going up into the roof space, which created a light well that filled the passage with daylight. Strategically placed lights in the well created a magically lit shaft at night. As a designer with a more contemporary sensibility, Nic chose to darken the floors to take the look away from the cottagey feel it lent itself to. Consequently the floors were stained black and varnished. Walls were kept white to create a gallery-like space in which the couple’s South African art collection could be displayed.

Because of the high ceilings and fussiness of the pressed ceilings, Nic chose to install the same, simple light fittings – a supersized version of a classic, fabric lampshade design – throughout the home. One of these replaced the dated 1950s light fitting in the entrance hall, setting the design tone and aesthetic that was then carried through into other rooms.

Room to Breathe

Sadly the original wooden windows in the lounge were irreparable, so Nic used the opportunity to replace them with wooden doors. Again, this brought much needed light into the space. The addition of a small decked courtyard outside the doors created indoor/outdoor flow.

Zulu beer pots on top of the fridge are in sharp contrast to the geometric shapes of the slick kitchen.

While he was determined to draw as much natural light into the home as possible, Nic was equally passionate about controlling the ambience at night with strategic lighting. The vast pressed ceiling, both a focal design element and potential selling point, needed to be respected. Instead, a large bulkhead was littered with downlighters to do the job. The inner wall of the lounge was removed to create an open-plan space that flowed into the dining room and kitchen. To define the space, Nic had carpets cut and seamed.

The fireplace had been stripped of its traditional features before the couple bought the home. Instead of attempting to restore or replace it, the brick and concrete were painted grey. A wall box was built above it and mirrored to add an extra dimension to the room.

A Clean Slate

A mustard bathroom begged for a modern overhaul and Nic took the opportunity to maximise the use of space – by literally turning the bathroom 180 degrees. A contemporary bath/shower replaced the basin and the existing bath was substituted with a toilet and basin. The original bathroom had a separate toilet and this was bricked up. The space was reclaimed by the kitchen, which lay on the other side of the wall, and utilised to create a laundry/pantry.

A mustard bathroom begged for a modern overhaul and Nic took the opportunity to maximise the space.

Nic chose an industrial-type basin to form a focal point in the bathroom. Timber cladding on this wall concealed plumbing and softened the look of the bathroom. A row of mirrored cupboards above provided much-needed storage, but also brought more light and a sense of space into the relatively small bathroom. A light well was dropped into this, with fluorescent lights turning the bathroom into a striking, modern space at night.

Large, white porcelain tiles were used on both the walls and floor, while all the remaining plastered wall space remained white. In contrast, a strip of wall above the cladding was painted charcoal – another design strategy to trick the eye into thinking the room is wider than it really is.

Text: Laura Twiggs, Lori Cohen
Production: Sven Alberding
Photographs: Greg Cox/



  1. Modern Family Makeover | Real Estate Magazine - […] Find out the secrets behind Nic and Lori’s makeover here. […]

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