House gets make-over in time for Christmas

The team of volunteers with Virginia Michaels in the middle.

Christmas has come early for an elderly woman whose house has been renovated, for free, by two Fish Hoek women.

Virginia Michaels, 78, says her Plumstead home has been transformed from one where people would leave “nasty” letters in the postbox to say she should do something about the state of the house to one where people stop and stare.

Business partners Madelyn New and Inga Andersen met Ms Micheals earlier this year while renovating her neighbour’s house in Plumstead. They noticed her house needed some “TLC“ and asked to see inside.

The two posted a plea on Facebook asking for supplies and volunteers (“Elderly woman gets offer of free make-over,” Echo August 12).

Ms New and Andersen ended up with a team of 11 volunteers that started the project at the end of August.

Ms New said the project should have taken four-to-six weeks, but due to bad weather and some of the volunteers withdrawing due to other work commitments, it had taken longer and had only been completed at the end of November.

Towards the end, Ms New said, they had struggled to get supplies and volunteers and she, Ms Andersen, and two of their employees had been the only ones left to complete the project.

But despite a lack of supplies and manpower, the outside of the house and the front stoep were repainted; mould was removed from the ceilings in the living room, entrance hall and the passage; cracks were filled in and the walls were repainted. The original Oregon-pine floors were sugar scrubbed and polished.

Ms New said they could not renovate the kitchen and bathroom as initially planned due to a lack of supplies despite their best efforts to fund-raise.

Ms Michaels has been living in the house for the past 60 years and said she was “thrilled” with the outcome.

“It’s like a big Christmas present all wrapped up with a big ribbon on top. I have no words to thank them,” she said.

She said Ms Andersen had “tackled” the Oregon-pine floors, scrubbing them on her knees, before polishing them.

“It was a lot of work, and they have done such an amazing job. I am so blessed,” she said.

Ms Micheals said that while the renovations had been a disruption, she had enjoyed being surrounded by so many people.

“In the beginning, people would just stop by and drop off supplies and equipment, and I didn’t even know who they were, and one of the sponsors and his wife brought me lunch. It was such a kind gesture,” she said.

Ms Michaels said now that the renovations had been completed, she was excited to start gardening again.

She is a vegetarian and grows most of her food herself. She said she had some seeds and planned to plant them soon.

“I am over blessed. I want to thank every single volunteer and donor who made this lovely project possible,” she said.

Virginia Michaels in her garden after the house had been painted.
A close-up of the house after the renovations were completed.
The lounge after it had been painted.
Virginia Michaels’ Plumstead house before the renovation.