HEAD: Cindy Siegal’s life was totally transformed when she renovated one of the oldest properties in Chelsea Wynberg.
COPY: To see the relaxed and radiant Cindy Siegal it’s hard to believe that at one stage she was destitute with no means of supporting her children. But, as the song goes, you can’t keep a good woman down and, after Cindy had lost her home in paying off her ex -husbands debts, she set to rebuilding her life. “I had no formal education or employment. The only thing I knew was that I loved beautiful things. I found a morning job at Biggie Best and learned the basic skills of fabric cutting. Then I moved to Constantia Interiors where, thanks to the supportive environment, my confidence just grew – I found wings and developed my flair. I formed a friendship with Bruce McLeod and we decided to pool our skills and resources to look for a property that we could both live in and from which we could run an interior decorating business.”
Having a home that doubles up as a business proved to be an ingenious solution to Cindy’s difficulties. “I’m so, so blessed. I work from home. My daughters Megan (17), Ashleigh (15) and I live upstairs. My bedroom is my sanctuary. Bruce has his bedroom and office off to the side. It’s an unusual arrangement but it works for us. Megan and Ashleigh walk to school at Springfield convent.” Cindy admits, there are challenges. “For six days a week, we can’t have a lie-in or slouch around in our pajamas. But I enjoy sharing my home with my clients.”
Cindy’s home gleams with warmth and oozes old- world charm. But, when she first saw Kleine Oude, a barn built in 1798, it was a neglected old lady. The floors were rotten, the walls damp and the garden totally overgrown. It took R250 000 and four months of intense work to make it a habitable home.
“The garden was the first labour of love,” says Cindy. Three truckloads of rubbish had to be removed from the front garden before the house became visible. “Gardening is my passion and Sunday my favourite day because I get to potter around the garden.” The back garden is a haven of lavender, roses and snowdrops and Cindy’s pride and joy. Two bunnies complete the idyllic scene.
The living room, where Cindy consults with clients during the day, was an extension built 120 years ago to turn the 1798 barn into an English-style country cottage. The first task inside the house was to refurbish the floor. “Many of the rafters were rotten and had to be replaced but today much of the original 120- year- old oak floor remains.”
Next, the walls were damp- proofed and painted. Cindy chose oatmeal shades that brighten the space and complement the thatch. “Throughout the home the theme is English country. I’m mad about checks and floral. I think it’s because of my Irish roots.”
Getting the kitchen in order was a priority. “I love cooking and entertaining – and I’m decadent,” she says, with a glint in her eye. “The kitchen was a dark, grotty space and had to be completely overhauled.” Friends and family regularly come to dine in what is the lighting showroom. “We eat under more chandeliers than in any royal palace and there’s never a shortage of seating because of all the garden furniture that we have scattered around the garden.”
Cindy’s little black book.
Wolfe Street Fabrics 021- 761 3333 and Mavromac 021-797 4739 are great sources of fabrics and inspiration for Cindy. She occasionally visits The Fabric Library in Kenilworth 021- 761 3071.
When Cindy isn’t thinking of interiors she says she likes to think of food. Her all time favorite place to escape to is The Orchid Café 021- 761 1000. She promises that their tarts and pastries are sublime.
In the evening Cindy unwinds at Café Verde 021 -762 0849.