How To Turn a Bookshelf and Finials Into A Storage Ottoman

I know – that’s not something you see every day! But when Continental Window Fashions asked me to make something with finials, I immediately thought that the cute shape of a pretty finial is perfect as feet for an ottoman. And well, the bookshelf was standing around doing nothing and waiting to be useful.

west elm essex ottoman

And when I saw this lovely little ottoman from West Elm, I knew exactly what I wanted to do!

ottoman and Chinese lady cushion

Here’s how to take an old bookshelf and turn it into an ottoman with finial feet.

ottoman materials

You Will Need:

An old bookshelf (for a sturdy ottoman, it’s best to use a bookshelf made out of solid wood and not chipboard)

  • 16mm thick chipboard, cut to the same size as the face of the bookshelf (this is for the ottoman lid)
  • 100mm medium density foam, cut to the same size as the face of the bookshelf
  • 22mm coverable buttons (we used 18)
  • Upholstery thread
  • Batting to cover the top and sides of the ottoman
  • Fabric of your choice (we used about 2.5m linen)
  • Thin cotton lining (we used 1m)
  • 4x curtain rod finials to use as feet. You can use regular wooden ball finials or go for more decorative Chaucer finials.
  • 4x  44mm x 44mm wooden corner blocks to support the feet
  • Wooden screws, filler, and touch-up paint.
  • 2x 40mm brass hinges

You will also need:

  • Staple gun and staples
  • Extra long upholstery needle
  • Electric drill with a variety of wood drill bits
  • 25mm hole saw bit



foam template

Create a grid on both the foam and the chipboard lid. We made a 4 x 3 button, or you can create your own grid based on your ottoman’s dimensions. Then mark where the buttons will go.



grid and drill

Use a 4mm drill bit to drill holes into the chipboard lid.



foam grid drill holes

Next, use the hole saw bit to drill holes into the foam carefully.



linen and batting and foam

Place the foam onto the chipboard, making sure that the holes line up. Then cover the foam with the wadding and lay over the fabric, taking care that the centre of the fabric is in the centre of the foam.



how to cover buttons

Now you’re ready to start with the buttons! Cover the buttons with your chosen fabric – a button covering tool makes this really easy. The lid of a spray paint canister works perfectly as a template!



how to do diamond buttoning

Thread 20” of upholstery thread through each button, and then use your extra long needle to thread the button through the fabric, wadding, foam and lid.

ottoman art nouveau book


Start from the central button and work your way outward, finishing with the buttons on the edges.


thread and screw driver

Use a screwdriver to get a better grip on the thread at the back, and pull until you are happy with the depth of the button at the front. Then apply staples in a zig-zag way to secure the thread. Repeat until you have secured all the buttons.



fabric and staple gun

Frist fix the wadding and then proceed to secure the fabric at the back of the lid. Make sure that you tuck the pleats as you go!

linen and staple gun

Take special care with the pleats around the corners to ensure that they are tight and even.




chinese floral fabric

Add a lining to the inside of the lid to finish it off – we used a colourful floral for a fun twist!


upholsery gun


Cover the sides of the base with a layer of wadding and fabric, and use your staple gun to secure it. Be sure to tuck the edges in on the top edge to finish it neatly.

cotton lining staple gun

For a professional touch, add a layer of lining to the bottom as well!

Chinese floral brass hinges

Then secure the lid to the base with the hinges.

STEP 10:

ottoman support blocks

To attach the legs, first add the support blocks on the inside of the base. Then drill holes big enough to take the dowel that’s attached to the finial.

finial leg

Add a drop of wood glue to the hole before you push in the finial.

open ottoman

Place some boxes inside and use it for storage!

ottoman storage boxes

Happy DIY-ing!

Warming Sweet Potato And Orange Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons

Many years ago, my sister gave me this utterly awesome soup recipe book by the New Covent Garden Food Company. When we lived in the UK, I loved their warming soup lunch meals – the perfect thing in a country cursed with perpetual cold weather! I have never tried this one before, but since I had a lot of sweet potato in the pantry and oranges are in season, I thought I’d test it. And oh my goodness! It’s delicious!! I adjusted the recipe a little because I am not particularly fond of bacon. I know, some people believe that there is something wrong with me! But this veggie version is beautiful and warming – just the thing we need with the icy weather. And it’s low carb, so it’s ideal for you Banters as well!

sweet potato soup and fresh oranges

How to make Sweet Potato and Orange Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons

 You Will Need:

  • 20g butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 500g peeled sweet potatoes (375g roughly chopped, and 125g cubed for the croutons)
  • 200g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 150ml milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • fresh coriander and double cream yoghurt for serving

Method for the soup:

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan and cook the onions until soft.

Add the roughly chopped sweet potatoes and potatoes, stock, orange juice and ground coriander. Bring to the boil, and then simmer covered until the vegetables are soft (about 30 minutes).


Method for the sweet potato croutons:

While the soup is gently bubbling away, heat some oil in a saucepan and once it’s hot, add the cubed sweet potato. Once the cubes have turned a golden brown colour, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep an eye on the sweet potato – you don’t want it to get too dark!

Back to the soup! When the vegetables are cooked, allow the soup to cool a little. Then add the milk and puree with a blend stick.

sweet potato soup and fresh oranges

Serve the soup garnished with a dollop of yoghurt, the sweet potato croutons and freshly chopped coriander!






Make your own diamond tufted headboard

Ideas Magazine asked me to make this headboard for their gorgeous July/August issue, and when you get the chance to make something beautiful, you have to grab the opportunity! This is not my first headboard, and it’s certainly not my last! I love headboards. Aside from providing a beautiful focal point in your room, they are super practical – especially if you like reading in bed. This one looks fantastic and costs much less than the store-bought version. And don’t be afraid to tackle this project – it is surprisingly easy to make!

Ideas Idees Magazine

Remember to get your copy of Ideas!



Here’s how to make your very own diamond tufted headboard!

To make a ¾ bed headboard, you will need:

  • Wooden base for the headboard – we used 1mx1mx19mm strand board
  • 5m fabric (we used charcoal linen)
  • 1m batting
  • 18x 22m coverable buttons
  • Thick thread (we used crochet thread)
  • Mattress needle
  • Staple gun & staples
  • Spray adhesive
  • 1mx1mx75mm thick foam
  • 1x Pine PAR 22x44mm x 2.4m batten, cut into 2x 1.2m lengths
  • 4x 3mmx32mm chipboard screws
  • 1m cotton lining

You will also need:

  • Headboard Template
  • Carpenter’s Pencil
  • Marker
  • Jigsaw
  • 22mm hole saw drill bit
  • Electric Carving Knife
  • Drill with 3mm wood drill bit
  • Scissors
  • Screwdriver
  • Measuring Tape
  • Straight Edge


chipboard and jigsaw

Use the template to cut the curve at the top of the wooden base. Then give the edges a quick sanding to make sure that there aren’t any rough areas.



foam and grid

Draw a grid of 10x20cm on both the foam and the wooden base. Then carefully mark the position of the buttons using the marker.



drill and foam

Use the hole saw drill bit to cut the holes into the foam only. Place a piece of sacrificial wood underneath to protect your work surface!



chipboard, foam and spray glue

Fix the foam to the wooden base using the spray adhesive. Ensure that everything is perfectly straight and allow to dry.



chipboard foam saw

Using the curved edge of the wooden base as a guide, cut the foam to the same shape with the electric carving knife.



foam drill

Placing the 3mm drill in the middle of each foam hole, drill a hole through the wooden base. This is where each button will be threaded through.



headboard back

Cover the foam with the batting, securing it at the back with the staple gun. Then cut away any excess batting afterwards.



foam scissors

Cut a small cross into the batting where it covers each foam hole. You should be able to easily see the small hole in the wood once you’ve done this.



fabric batting

Lay the fabric over the batting, making sure that the centre of the fabric is in the centre of the headboard.


STEP 10:

covering buttons

Cover the buttons with fabric and attach a 40cm piece of thread to each button. Make a double knot at the back to make sure that they’re secure. A 2-litre milk bottle cap makes the perfect fabric template for a 22mm button!


STEP 11:

headboard buttons

Using the mattress needle, thread the buttons through the fabric, batting, foam and wood. It is easiest to do this if you place the headboard upright on the floor so that you can catch the needle at the back.


STEP 12:

staple gun screw driver

Wind the thread at the back around a screwdriver and pull until you’re happy with the depth of the button on the front of the headboard. Then use the staple gun to secure the thread by stapling it to the wood in a zig-zag pattern.


STEP 13:

pleat pinch

Tuck the pleats between the buttons as you go, making sure that they’re all facing in the same direction. Once all the buttons are in place, use the staple gun to secure the edges of the fabric at the back.


STEP 14:

headboard legs

Measure the height of the bed and secure the legs to the back of the headboard accordingly. Ideally, the lower edge of the upholstery should sit just above the top of the mattress.


STEP 15:

headboard backing

Staple the cotton lining to the back to finish off your headboard, tucking in the edges.

I hope you love your headboard as much as I love mine!

UPDATE! 5 Great Ideas on Stocking Up Your Bar Cart For Winter

With the cooler weather settling in, it’s time to consider how you’re going to be spending your time inside this winter. Think cosy evenings watching movies, sitting around the fireplace with a good book, or playing hide-and-seek inside with the kids. Whatever your winter looks like, we’ve come up with a few great ideas for your bar cart. Because let’s face it: a well-stocked bar cart for winter is essential if you’re going to survive – whether you drink alcohol or not!

1// Hot Chocolate Bar Cart

This has to be the best idea ever! A mobile hot chocolate station, complete with books and snacks. I think every home should have one of these! Having chocolatey goodness carted around the house makes things really simple come movie night.

Sincerely Sara D.

The secret to this gorgeously styled bar cart is the gold touches with deep blue accents. The stunning blue background also helps, of course! Nothing like a dark background to show off something in front.

You will need:

  • Pots for ready-made hot chocolate or hot water
  • Hot Chocolate selection
  • Mugs
  • Spoons
  • Cream

PRO TIP: Keep your drinks hot with a tea light heater, and add some gourmet ginger biscuits for crunchy touch.

2// Winter Warmers Station

Ginny MacDonald

No better way to beat the chill than by stocking your cart with ingredients for warming cocktails! Think hot toddies with lemon peel, ginger cider, and milk punch. Click here for these recipes and LOADS more (among others, Bacon, Bourbon, and Hazelnut Hot Chocolate – don’t know what to say about that…) And don’t forget the mulled wine! Nothing screams hot and boozy drinks in front of the fire like Glühwein or mulled wine. Click here for my favourite Glühwein recipe – from the ever-awesome Jamie Oliver.

The image above further proves my point about deep blue backgrounds with gold in front! I love the touch of eucalyptus in this as well, adding a bit of greenery to the setting. The image above further proves my point about deep blue backgrounds with gold in front! I love the touch of eucalyptus in this as well, adding a bit of greenery to the setting. For some additional tips on putting together a perfect boozy bar cart, have a look at this great blog post from : the designers at Havenly.

College Housewife

For your Winter Warmer Station Bar Cart, you will need:

  • Warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger
  • Citrus Peel, Blood Orange and citrus juice
  • Brown Sugar
  • Red Wine
  • Spicy liquor like spiced rum, whiskey, Grand Marnier and craft gin
  • A tea light heater to keep things warm and smelling amazing!
  • A cocktail recipe book like this one 😉

3// Alternative Uses

One Kings Lane

If you prefer just to wait out the winter and put your bar cart in storage, then consider rather repurposing it until the sun shines again. Use it to store books, plants and picture frames while you’re hibernating. And if there happens to be a fortified wine on there, then so be it – we won’t judge!

4// Dessert & Booze Cart

dessert bar cart cupcakes

Because those 2 things go BEAUTIFULLY together! Pink gin, bubbly, pomegranate juice and a few maraschino cherries make delicious drinks with some cupcakes and cones!

5// Bathroom Glamour

bar cart towels

bathroom bar cart

This cart looks like it straight out of a posh hotel! Pretty towels and luxury soaps complete the look. Go on – treat yourself!!

These beautiful bar carts and accessories are from Gorgeous By Olivia – get your bar car and accesories delivered to your door!

Happy Carting!



Make Your Own Faux French Tablecloth

I have had a soft spot for French table linen for a few years but somehow a tablecloth has never found its way to me. My dining room table was commissioned by my husband’s grandfather in 1926 and can comfortably seat 12, or even 14 at a push. So you can imagine that a beautiful, traditional French linen tablecloth of that size would be quite a sizable investment! In fact, I only have 2 tablecloths that are big enough and both of those we inherited with the table. Naturally, when I was left with a beautiful piece of double-width natural linen left after a project, I immediately started to employ it as a tablecloth. But I always felt that the traditional red or blue striped detail was lacking. And then it dawned on me: I have a red and natural woven ribbon! And that is how my faux French tablecloth came to be.

I first wrote this post in 2013, and now, 5 years later, I can honestly that this is one of my favourite tablecloths! We entertain regularly, and this one has featured numerous times!

You will need:

  • Linen or synthetic linen*
  • Woven cotton ribbon in the colours of your choice
  • Matching thread

*  Linen is an excellent and durable choice, although natural linen can be very costly. Synthetic linen is made from polyester. It is much more affordable, stable (won’t stretch or warp) and stain- and crease resistant. 

To determine the length of fabric needed, add 40cm (20 cm each side) to the length of your table. Most fabrics are 140cm wide, so that should be sufficient for the width of your table.


You will also need:

  • Pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron


linen and ribbon

Ensure that the fabric and ribbon are both prewashed to eliminate any risk for shrinkage. Then iron both to remove any creases.


french tablecloth diy

Lay the fabric on a table or other large, flat surface, and pin the ribbon down the centre of the fabric. Measure regularly to ensure you pin straight!


red striped ribbon

Carefully stitch the ribbon to the fabric, using a long straight stitch.

STEP 4: 

french tablecloth glass

Iron the tablecloth again and admire your work!

This is a super simple project! The only trick is to make sure that you don’t pull on the fabric as you stitch. This will prevent the tablecloth from warping down the middle.

Sometimes you really just have to relook things in a new way – you’ll be surprised at the possibilities right under your nose!

Happy Creating!

This post was originally published on August 26, 2014. It has since also appeared in my book, Make Your Home.

Friday Night Bangers In Blankets

I try to keep the menu light on a Friday night with things like burgers and pizza, but sometimes I get a bit over-excited, and I try something new! Pigs In Blankets are a firm favourite here, especially when party season swings around (July sees three birthdays in our house) and you have to make something quick for the crowds. So I thought it could be fun to make them with pork sausages for supper instead with cocktail sausages as a party snack. And it worked! Everybody loved them, and now I have something new for my Friday night repertoire – Bangers In Blankets!

pigs in blankets

P.I.B is really a very simple thing to make. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can get the kids involved as well to create their own. If I make it as party food, I wrap each sausage in a triangle of pastry. Because pork bangers are much bigger, I decided to cut down on the amount of pastry so that you don’t end up with a doughy ball and keep the pork the hero.

You will need

  • Good quality pork bangers
  • A roll of puff pastry
  • Flour for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten

pigs in blankets


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the bangers on a greased tray and precook in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool to the touch.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and cut into strips. The thickness of the strips will really depend on what you want to create! We used wider bands to braid and thinner strips to just roll around the sausages. Play with the pastry!

Lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed up and golden.

pigs in blankets

Serve with potato wedges, salad and mustard of course!

Happy Cooking!


Home Tour: Welcome to Homeology Studio!

I have been working on Homeology for more than four years now. When I look back, I am amazed at how my little business has grown! When I started out, I renovated our dilapidated garden cottage with the help of my dad and one of his dearest friends, who happens to be a carpenter. I worked in my newly renovated studio for a few years and loved it! It was a magical place with plenty of creativity and some great ideas and projects. But after a series of break-ins, the place lost its sparkle for me, and I found it hard to spend my time there.

Throw a new baby into the mix, and you’re left with an abandoned and sad space that doubles as a storeroom where things go to die. Until recently that is! Tenille and I set out to bring new life into our workshop and studio space with the generous help of Builders warehouse. Here’s our ELABORATE shopping trip!

So without any further delay, here is the new, updated, super awesome Homeology Studio!


workshop studio

The studio is tiny at about 30sqm, which suits our needs perfectly. We need a workshop area to make stuff, and a shooting area. The first order of business was a new chipboard floor to keep the cold air, dust, and critters out! This was also the biggest job by far that took a whole day to accomplish. And my goodness, those boards are super heavy!

The Workshop

makita drill workbench

This is where stuff gets done! A place for everything and everything in its place. We have a fabulous new workbench at the centre of everything. The rest of the space is taken up storage for the incredible amount of tools and materials we have amassed.

The Shooting Area


This is where the magic that we created in the workshop gets pimped and shot! All white walls and floor, and beautiful daylight flooding in through the windows.


The biggest addition to the space by far were the two skylights. It was also the most horrendous job to get done! After the ceiling sheets were installed, we had to cut through the ceiling insulation. This might seem straightforward enough, but when said ceiling contains a multitude of mice nests, it becomes a disgusting, stinky job! None the less, it was totally worth it. Our studio is now filled with beautiful light!


We have two pegboards, two lockers, an Indonesian teak chest of drawers, shelving & an antique armoire. And as ever, we probably need more storage because really, can you ever have enough?

Sewing Corner

We don’t do too much sewing, but when we do, it usually involves large pieces of fabric! This little corner of the studio has a big table and all the thread, bobbins, fabric and scissors we could possibly need.


Yes, we have a bit of an obsession with tea, and we’re not fighting it at all! While we don’t have a kettle for the moment, this is something we plan to remedy very soon. A flask filled with hot water works for now.


Thanks for taking the tour of our studio! We promise to show you what we up to regularly, behind the scenes as well as in front of the cameras!

All materials for this project were generously sponsored by Builders Warehouse.

Wholesome Ostrich and Mushroom Potjiekos

Potjiekos is a South African national treasure. When you think about it, potjiekos is really just a stew that’s been made on an open fire. There are a few essentials when it comes to making a potjie: pack everything with care, meat in the bottom, and don’t stir! It takes a lot of discipline not to stir a pot though, so we don’t completely abide by the rules. Here’s Joey’s delicious ostrich and mushroom potjiekos, made with love and a secret ingredient!

Joey making potjie


  • 500g Ostrich goulash pieces
  • 500g mixed mushrooms
  • oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, cut up
  • 500g baby potatoes
  • 250g green beans
  • 125ml magic stock*
  • 500ml water
  • cornstarch
  • a handful of fresh herbs (we used flat leaf parsley, origanum and thyme)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 125ml red wine

* The secret is in the stock! Make your own by grilling 1kg beef bones in the oven for 30 mins. Then boil them in 3 litres of water with a few carrots, celery, onions, and garlic until you’ve cooked all the goodness out of them. Decant the delicious liquid into small tubs and use when needed for soups, stews, potjie or anything else really!


Get your fire going! You will need a pile of medium heat coles to start. It’s best to use a tripod under your pot.

potjiekos on fire

Heat the oil and fry the onions and garlic. Add the meat and brown, then remove and let it rest.

ostrich goulash potjie

Next, add the baby potatoes, carrots, stock and water. Let it cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are almost cooked.

veggies cooking on a fire

Add the meat, mushrooms, and red wine and reduce the heat by removing some of the coals. Season to taste. Then let it simmer for about 30 minutes until the meat is tender.

potjiekos red wine

To thicken the potjie:

Add cold water to the cornstarch to form a paste. Then add some of the potjie juice to the cornstarch and mix till smooth and lump-free before adding the mixture to the potjie. Stir and cook for another 10 minutes before serving.


Serve with a few sprinkles of fresh herbs and a glass of deep red wine.


Who’s Your Daddy this Father’s Day?

Father’s Day is this coming Sunday, and what better way to thank your Dad for his awesomeness than with a R1,000 voucher from Builders Warehouse?? Just tell us Who’s Your Daddy: is it DIY Dad, Garden Dad or Braai Dad?




Does your Dad love to get his hands dirty in the garage? Is he always working on things, building and tinkering with projects around the house? Then he is most likely DIY Dad, that guy that can fix anything and everything with his tools and tool belt.

#2: BRAAI Dad


We all know this guy! Rain or shine, he’ll make any excuse to light a fire and cook his meat the way God intended. He has every possible gadget that he could ever need for his outdoor culinary adventures. And loves to hang around the fire showing off his skill.

#3: GARDEN Dad


You can spot his exquisite garden from the window of an aeroplane. The borders are perfect, the gravel meticulous and he takes pride in his roses and gladiolas. Not to mention the harvest from his kitchen garden!

Now tell us Who’s Your Daddy!

Click here to enter the lucky draw to win a R1,000 voucher from Builders Warehouse for your Dad this Father’s Day.


Savoury cheesecake with chilli, tomato, and basil

I’ll be honest: I didn’t know that something like a savoury cheesecake even existed! But when I received a link to this recipe earlier this week, I knew that I had to try it. They had me at cheese, tomato and basil. That has to be one of my all-time favourite combinations of ingredients: on a sandwich, in an omelette, on a pizza, with pasta, and of course on its own. You can’t go wrong! AND this recipe is low-carb!

I didn’t plan to modify this recipe at all, but when I went to buy the ingredients and they didn’t have ricotta, I could for the life of me not figure what to substitute it with. In my defense, it was early in the morning and I’d had only 1 cup of coffee by then, so even Mr Google was not able to help me. I ended up substituting the ricotta with cream cheese. In hindsight, cottage cheese would have been a better choice. None the less, it worked out well and produced a deliciously silky, creamy, super rich savoury cheesecake. Oh, and I find it really hard to justify the cost of pine nuts, so I used my go-to in this situation: toasted sunflower seeds.

Baked Savoury Cheesecake with Cherry Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar - Homeology

You will need

For the Cheesecake:

  • 450 g ricotta (or if you’re like me, 450g of cream cheese)
  • 1 cup plain cream cheese – at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs wholegrain mustard
  • 1 Tbs garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • pinch white pepper

For the Topping:

  • 500g rosa tomatoes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs spoon of toasted sunflower seeds and basil to serve

Baked Savoury Cheesecake - Homeology


Seriously, this could not be easier!

For the Cheesecake:

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Prepare a springform cake tin by lining the base with baking paper and greasing.

Mix all the cheesecake ingredients thoroughly using an electric mixer. Then spoon into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin, and refrigerate until you’re ready for the next step!

Baked Savoury Cheesecake with Cherry Tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar and Parsley - Homeology

For the Topping:

Preheat the grill to 200°C.

Toss the tomatoes in some oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place them under the grill until they have caramelized – around 10-15 minutes. Then allow to cool.

To Assemble:

Once you’re ready to serve, remove the cake from the springform tin and arrange the tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with basil leaves and roasted sunflower seeds.

Slice of Baked Savoury Cheesecake with Cherry Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar - Homeology

Happy Baking!

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