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Investing in talent counts and so, the way one engages a building professional is the same way one should engage an Interior Designer to actualize your desired spaces. This calls for a champaign toast, writes NyamburaNugi-Kinuthia, while stressing the need to put emphasies on the finer details. 

In the 2nd issue of this East African focussed interiors industry magazine, I argued on whether engaging an Interior Designer on your project is money worth. Subsequently, on Issue 4 of the same magazine, Robert Yawe hit the nail right on the head when he asked “Who is murdering our Interiors?”  Clearly someone is. 

Do you as a developer or homeowner want to stop the process and save yourself the anguish of either losing money or burdened in a domain that just needs an interiors professional. If yes, this is for you. Go for the real doers.

I have said before that Interior design is creative art – not pure art.  Creative Art involves understanding and articulating style, visual balance, contrast and foam. It is about Colour and Colour Psychology, creating compliment or contrast, about understanding interior surface finishing materials suitability.

Well, interiors is further about lights and lighting that create an ideal ambience. Yes, it is about creating harmony in the environment. Interior Design is thus about understanding and interpreting the architectural drawings, surveying spaces and creatively working with existing structure to create required spaces.

Well then what do you expect from an Interior Designers? They develop 3D interior layouts, detail specifications and elevations to give the client virtual impressions of the space final look. They quantify the materials to avoid expensive mistakes and project works execution time-line. Interior design is about putting concepts together to create space balance and ultimately supervising work execution to ensure the envisioned is actualized.

Unmistakably this means that an interior designer must be trained to execute interior design works. Just like in other professionals; not everyone is a doctor, an accountant, a pilot or an engineer. Just because one is putting up a residential house, commercial apartments, holiday home(s) and hospitality outlet among others, that does not qualify one to be overnight interior designer. I have heard this comment over and over; “My wife will do the interior design of the house when the structure is finished.” Does this mean that all wives are interior designers? Yes under your own peril. Mmmh! This is what happens when you attempt to be an overnight interior designer.

On my usual networking discussions, I had a chat with a couple. They were putting up their residential home in one of the up-market residential suburbs. I proposed to undertake the interior design for their house that was on the initial stages of construction; a four bedroom house with the usual amenities.

The client was receptive and I presented my proposal together – taking up the full interior works from inception to completion on a professional fee of Ksh 250,000. They argued the professional fee was too high and that the fundis with the supervision of a foreman can execute the works. Really?

A few months later, I received a call from the same client totally distressed. I made an appointment and visited the site and YES they had all reasons to be totally distressed. True to their word, they had gone ahead and decided they will execute the interior works as earlier mentioned. They had gotten referrals from family and friends for different fundis, travelled to China and purchased all the interior fitting and finishing materials.

The reality started unfolding when:-

1. The purchased tiles design at the buying point was forgotten so the fundis had to try and create their imaginative “design” on the ground – smell disaster!

2. Wardrobe doors that had a very unique design were fitted up-side-down.

3. The Kitchen cabinet fittings will not technically fit per measurements and due to the nature of cheap boards used to make the carcass and the doors, trying to “correct” the errors damaged the boards.

4. Our Curtain fabrics quantity was not sufficient to cover all the windows with the 100 percent recommended gathers (each room had a different fabric texture and colour) among other frustrations.


By the time the client called me, some tiles had been “designed” and laid; there were a myriad mistakes on tiling. Some tiles were fixed in wrong rooms hence quantities problems, wrong colour and design combinations and spacing inconsistencies. The curtain fabrics were cut, kitchen cabinet fittings literally squeezed to fit and some corrections tried and proved unachievable. The wardrobe doors were already fitted but picture the look of a barely straight line.

I will save you the details of how best the situation was sorted but please note that even designers can only do so much to control the damage. The client lost quantities of tiles, fabrics and regrettably the kitchen cabinets.

Our topic of the day – to engage an interior designer and save yourself money, time and headaches and have a professionally executed work or take the road this client took?  By the time we sorted the house interiors to an acceptable level, reality on major expenses was per below.

Initial material cost less shipping & duty (DIY)

New costs – Locally sourced materials  to redo the work




(After best salvaging the imported to an acceptable level)




Kitchen Cabinets



 Entirely new fit-out



Curtain fabrics



(Salvaged some imported fabrics and re-designed)




Interior design fee





The amount of money the client lost in order to “save” Kes 250,000


This is just a tip of the iceberg of what could go wrong with perhaps an overnight-made interior designer. Other additional un-necessary expenses arise from wrong electrical works and fittings, sanitary fitting works, kitchen appliances fitting and elements fittings not considered or even facilitated on time in view of furniture orientation for each room necessitating walls hacking after plaster and painting is already done. These are far reaching costs in monitory value and results in project delay.

The magnitude of figures changes when you make the same mistake on your bigger developments such as commercial apartments, serviced apartments and hospitality outfits among others.

My emphasis; Just like you must engage your consortium of building professionals when you are starting the project – Architect, Engineers-Mechanical & Electrical,  Project Manager and QS, you must engage an Interior Designer to actualize your envisioned interior spaces.

The hotels and lodges that you wow about when you go for family holidays have been given that look by a professional interior designer. There is no reason why your home should look any different!!

Nyambura is the managing director of Zidaka Interiors, with an interiors design base in Nairobi, Kenya.

Edition 05

Comfort in the bedroom



Mattresses immensely contribute to the quality of beds. But one wonders, what really makes that mattress a worthwhile one for a quality sleep. Jeniffer MBOGORI gives a sneak preview of the users preferences. 

The debate between soft versus firm mattresses rages on even after decades of us appreciating the need of quality sleep nursed on worthwhile foams. There are benefits and drawbacks to options of having the sleeping surface softer or harder according to MekanMatresses a leading East Africa mattress household name.

With its firm roots in Kenya and design aerials in Turkey, Mekan has steadily cut a niche for themselves in the now competitive mattress market. It is they who continue to lull quite a number of those desiring quality sleep with enviable mattresses.

According to YasinCenk, one of directors at the firm comfortable sleep isn’t chanced. “The ingredient for quality sleep hinges on a quality mattress,” he stresses.

While some people opt for the stable support of harder, less forgiving mattresses, others choose softer and more lenient mattresses on their beds.  With selection of mattresses increasing constantly, Cent notes that a mattress’ style, functionality and option to select which design and material are right matters.

Comfort vs. Support

One difficulty in the pursuit of the perfect mattress is the division between comfort and support. For years, hard mattresses have been recommended as essential for proper back support, and the only option for maintaining healthy spine alignment during sleep.

Contrastingly, more and more mattresses are marketed purely for comfort, claiming to mimic the softness of sleeping on a cloud. While sleeping comfortably is an obvious aspiration for most people shopping for a new bed, an aching back lacking adequate support clearly presents an obstacle to a good night’s sleep as well.

Orthopedic mattresses are an example of sleep-well products that hit the market with a bang owing to the fact that they do not only offer comfort and a good night’s sleep. They also help to align the body structure appropriately, thereby providing valuable health support. In this category are also the latex mattresses.

Innerspring Mattresses

The most common form of mattress available, the innerspring, uses a layer of metal springs, covered by a small layer of fabric. The springs are designed to support the weight of your body, while sinking just enough to feel comfortable. Depending on the gauge of the coil, spring mattresses can range from firm to moderate support, and then eventually reach soft with age and wear. Within the spring layer, one of four types of coils that may be used:-

Continuous coil

Each row of interior springs is made up of one continuous spring. The use of one spring as opposed to many is thought to increase the strength of the coil, providing stronger support, and extending the life of the spring’s original resistance.

Open coil

The oldest style of spring mattress, open coil spring form the shape of an hourglass, and are bound to each other by a series of smaller wire spirals. While open coil springs initially provide adequate support, they tend to lose their resistance relatively quickly.

Offset coil

An adaptation of the open coil, offset coil springs forms a square head rather than circular. This design change is thought to increase the mattress’s ability to conform to the weight of a person’s body. Offset coils are also connected to each other within the mattress by a series of smaller wire coils.

Individually wrapped coils

Rather than using a chamber of coils spanning the entire interior of the mattress, this style uses individually wrapped coils, each enclosed in a fabric pocket. The separation rather than connection of coils attempts to reduce the transfer of motion from one coil to another, stabilizing the mattress’s surface.

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Edition 05

Enchanting Sani Gardens




Picture this beautiful setting – a lush green landscape set among beautiful gardens, surrounded by exotic flowers and mature trees in a quiet, serene and inspiring environment.

As we drove around the Karen suburb trying to locate the gardens, little did we imagine that we were about step into the most mesmerizing place in Nairobi.  As the gates were opened, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the green green grass and the most fascinating flowers – some of which I had never seen in my life.  I actually had to touch the grass just to make sure it was real.

Astonishing landscape

Lost in the astonishing landscape and the amazing view of the Ngong Hills, we were ushered into the gardens by the charming and most pleasant owners who explained to us the meaning of the word “Sani”.

A fairly new home in the area, the gardens were once just a vast land of stones and gravel, that were quickly transformed into a haven of tranquility and peace.

Step into the trendy Sani Gardens – a unique recreational garden filled with breath-taking greenery, covering a large area of peaceful parkland.  Nestled in the serene suburb of Karen, the gardens epitomize a relaxed garden scheme of uplifting colours and scents.

The gardens run by a group of entrepreneurs, are a popular spot for visitors looking to rejuvenate and relax their senses after a long hard week, picnics, corporate events, wedding parties, among many other activities.

Beautiful extension

Surrounding a most enchanting home, the gardens are a beautiful extension that comprise of a series of spaces the each feature distinctive elements that are sure to enchant anyone spending a day here – a truly enchanting spot.

With the remarkable expanse of unique trees, amazing botanic gardens and the tranquil park, there is something melancholy about the nature surrounding the Sani Gardens.

The gardens give meaning to the phrase “maximizing space”. The sheer size of the park is a challenge to anyone and an outdoor space has never been this inviting.

This enchanting garden features exquisite and striking spaces like a tranquil “pergola” where one can hold a romantic dinner or a family get-together.

Graceful plants

There are also unique areas around the garden where graceful plants define the gardens in the countryside by the city and manicured archways that line the gardens.  The gardens are also graced with beautiful and one of a kind sculptures that offer the African theme of embracing family and unity.

In line with going green and being friendly to Mother Nature, the mission of the founders of Sani Gardens is to promote relaxation, enjoyment and appreciation of nature.

Enjoy days and evenings filled with the fresh scent of nature and fragrant plants at the fabulous Sani Gardens.

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Edition 05

Golfing transformed at Aberdare Hills



If you ever thought of refreshed international standard golfing, then Aberdare Hills Golf Resort, with homely interiors, a nostalgic environment and manicured landscapes designed by world renowned designers Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo (WATG) would definitely be your next big bet by Kelai WANJIRU.

Sitting in grandeur at the foothills of the world famous Rift Valley, is a beauty unknown to most people – facing the Aberdare ranges is the highly anticipated Aberdare Hills Golf Resort. Thanks to Panda Development Company initiative speaks volumes of fantastic interiors graced with beautiful surroundings and manicured landscapes.

Going on a tour to this eco-friendly golf resort is undoubtedly a nostalgic experience. Set on a massive 1,650 hectares of prime land in Naivasha, the resort boasts of a five star hotel. It is designed as a self-contained residential community with recreation, leisure facilities and amenities that offer a unique and luxurious lifestyle. One quickly sees the opportunity of an international golf championship talking place at this well kempt arena. Within the golf course’s vicinity is a commercial centre.

With wide views of the mountains and the feel of the soft breeze of the rift’s air on one’s cheeks, pure relaxation and contentment is what the developers – Panda Development Company had in mind when this world class resort was incepted.  It affirms its quality space around the neighbouring flower farms that’s known of Naivasha – a town equally popular with those who are keen on the finer things of life.

Jells pretty

The generous spaces of the Aberdare Hills Golf Resort boldly make it a site to behold. Its 18-hole golf course and endearing vehicle parking yards jells pretty with the green mother-nature that serves as a special sanctuary for birdlife. Several species of the birds abound.  One can easily see why the resort is mother-nature’s best friend.

According to the chairman of Panda Development Company, Dr.PritamPanesar, the integration of the East African Community makes the incomparable major regional development a sure determinant of Naivasha’s future in Kenya’s growing global market position.

The development comprises two phases with the first phase comprising of 216 Ultra-Luxe Villas each with a choice of three to five bedroom rare units, an 18-hole golf course that’s built to international and USGA championship specifications, a Golf and Country Club House and infrastructure to support the first phase.  Construction of the golf course has already started and the first phase will be completed in 2014. Design for the second phase has been completed.

Superb views

Dr.Panesar, so passionate about the environment, states that the golf resort is environmentally sustainable as it will contribute to alleviating some of the pressures of the city and ease congestion. He notes that the golf resort has a safe and secure environment that provides freedom for children and adults alike to play and explore the natural landscape accessed by well maintained paths and trails.  With superb views from elevated areas, the Aberdare Hills Golf Resort is designed by world renowned designers Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo (WATG), who have done a superb job of creating a visionary mix of housing and commercial space – a first in Kenya.

David Jones, the golf-course design team leader was certainly out to make a difference at a location that is away from the hustle and bustle of the Nairobi – Kenya’s capital city. However, by virtue of being only an hour’s drive the city, the golf resort offers luxurious living with excellent services that surpass the expectations of the East African Community and international travellers. The resort, which has changed the face of the small town of Naivasha is a sound investment that is sure to elevate the country as the destination to be.

The exquisite and stimulating design of the villas is a summary of inspiration. Each villa is uniquely designed to capture the spirit of nature and the feel of the Aberdare Ranges that stands tall in a not so far-off distance. That contemporary and modernity feel couldn’t escape the designer’s mind.  While it is almost difficult to capture the designer’s concept, kudos goes to the unrushed and well thought-out process of the awesome and inviting Aberdare Hills Golf Resort.

By creating beautiful spaces to live, work and play, the Panda Development Company offers an exceptional experience that combines opulence and nature.

P.O Box 46235 – 00100 Nairobi


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