Today we’re taking a tour of the Carol Zee clothing studio in Woodstock. This ‘Before’ and ‘After’ shows how you can effectively transform a rental space with just a few simple yet clever design decisions.
Carol Zee is best known for their unique fabrics. Owner and designer, Carol Coetzee, works closely with a few select textile designers to create artworks which are then transformed into prints and locally printed in various colourways. Their previous studio was totally uninspiring and way too small for all their fabric rolls, stock and samples. When they moved into this open-plan space earlier this year, Carol knew she wanted to create a more inviting space for clients to visit and for her team to work in as well. She decided to call in decor guru Lei Lester to help with the vision.
Carol had a few pieces of furniture that she wanted to use if possible, and because she only has medium term lease it wouldn’t make sense to invest in pieces that were specific to the space. “The sofa was a definite, as was the long table and chairs, the other pieces I photographed and sent to Lei hoping she would be inspired to use them!” says Carol. Within a few days Lei sent through mood boards and shortly after that, her team moved in and transformed the space in a day and a half!
The entrance got a lick of black paint and Alex from Windowsill created a lovely cactus garden which creates a visual impact as you enter. The right hand side of the stairway is used to store Carol’s patterns.
“I love the transformation! The combination of old and new, all the greenery… especially the cactus garden on the way up the stairs. And how the black entrance and charcoal walls create a strong backdrop for everything else.” – Carol
20 SECONDS WITH LEI
The space was essentially an empty shell that carol was moving into… a lovely open-plan space that needed some vocal points and an aesthetic lift. It was important that the space functioned well as an office, but also as a meeting place for clients and a creative workshopping space for Carol to design in. As the space was so open, and a rather usual shape, my first task was to create little pockets within that, defining each area for its intended use.
The challenges were fitting everything in as Carol had a lot of swatches, fabrics, patterns and stock! It was key we created an office where she could find things easily and redefine some of the chaos into manageable chunks.
We sourced beautiful vintage pieces of furniture and combined them with some items Carol had in storage, making the space feel a little retro, a little vintage, but ultimately a creative hub. I wanted to use the term “fashion” and give it a classic twist rather than something ultra modern, taking my queues from the building itself.
The sofa came from an antique shop on Kloof Street and was recovered by Dexter. Lei added the cabinet which acts as a room divider and sourced the turntable and sideboard from vintage shops for Carol. The gallery was created using frames from Country Road and all the hanging plants are from Opus.
Lei made the cork pin board using materials from Builders Warehouse and sourced the clothing grid from a fencing company. The wire baskets are from Superbalist and the Hare lamp is Carol’s which she bought at Haas when they still had their shop in the Bo Kaap.
The table was made from the roof trusses salvaged from Carol’s previous home when it was renovated and the chairs are by Liam Mooney.