A New Lease on Life

Comments (0) Interviews

Restoring old buildings has been a passion for Shayne Marie Kraal for as long as she can remember, we chat to her about her love for making the old new again.

When did your love for old buildings begin?

I have always had a passion for design and transforming spaces, as far back as I can remember! I’ve travelled extensively and feel so enriched by the extraordinary variety of these stunning old and new styles that I witnessed, including those close to home. This was fuelled by studying Architectural Drafting and Design in Sydney.

What’s the most satisfying thing about restoring old to new again?

It gives me great joy to know that a building has been resurrected from dilapidation, giving it a new lease on life. There is often a varied history and an extraordinary story in these buildings, and knowing that we have had some input into revitalising and enhancing them to their former glory is a cherished journey to be a part of.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from the feel of each individual building and how it interacts within its unique landscape. There can also be particular elements that the clients might have, that I draw inspiration from. In the Old Dairy (that’s photographed for this article) Sarah had two Victorian “King and Queen chairs” that were owned by her maternal grandparents. These, along with her paternal grandmother’s Victorian “White sewing machine” base, needed a direction. Incorporating these elements into my design process was fundamental, and as a result, they’re in their new cherished home, where they can shine!

What are some of the hurdles and challenges with old buildings?

The most crucial challenge is the stability of the building. As we know, old buildings often throw up curve balls; they move with time and we need to work with their wonderful idiosyncrasies (the good, bad and the ugly!) When we work with these boundaries, it often enhances the character and enriches the overall design.

We often hear about the three “R”s, retain, repair and reuse; why is this important to you?

To keep the integrity of the building I definitely believe it is vital to retain, repair and reuse as much as we can; respecting, repurposing, revitalising and reinvigorating the past and knitting in with the client’s needs and desires, we are creating a wonderful new chapter, elongating the story of these beautiful buildings.

There are many dilapidated barns and sheds in the area. What are some of the benefits of converting these old buildings?

We need to remember that any of these restored buildings will add value to your property – financially and emotionally. Many people are converting these old dairies, barns and cottages as additional space for family and friends, as granny flats, teenage escapes, office space, B&Bs, or as an Airbnb. There is the potential for an additional income, whilst still keeping your privacy. Also, depending on the attributes of what you have and your desires, these buildings could also become an extraordinary function/event space.

What are people typically using their renovated barns and shed for?

In this particular project, the clients needed a separate office and accommodation for their family and friends to stay when they visited their farm. Initially, it took some convincing to persuade them to resuscitate their very old dairy, and they are very glad they did. The space really works and is just so lovely to be in, noting that this was achieved on a very tight budget. Another project I did, also on a tight budget, was changing a “dilapidated cottage” on farmland (which was only 6 m x 6 m) into a successful and much-loved Airbnb.

What are your best tips for renovating old farm buildings?

There are a number of things to keep in mind when renovating; these are just a few …

  • Work with the personality of your building and its surrounds.
  • Make sure your builder and trades can work with the quirks of your building.
  • Be aware of any rules and regulations when it comes to councils and authorities.
  • Do your research; even when the budget is tight, a bargain can be found. You just need to know where to look.
  • Keep focused on your desired design and the function of your building, including storage.
  • Lighting is paramount; please realise it can make or break your space.
  • Finally, keep a little dosh aside for landscaping; it makes such a difference. And please don’t forget the edible plants, like herbs; they are easy, beautiful and delicious!

You’re obviously a very creative person. You also have a photography business, “Kaptured by Kraal”. Can you tell us about that?

Seriously, I just can’t help myself. I have always been joyfully driven to take photographs, capturing that magnificent millisecond of a moment in time! Specialising in people, animals and events; I have gratefully achieved many awards across several competitions. I also have a range of greeting cards, which have proved very popular.

If someone would like to restore an old dwelling, how can they get in touch?

The best way to contact me is via email: kapturedbykraal@gmail.com or phone me on 0421 0420 36, or you can visit my website www.kapturedbykraal.com.au

Thanks Shayne.

Interview: Bronwyn Davis.

Leave a Reply