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When buying a house, it is important to provide for costs of personalising it to your unique sanctuary by accepting none of compromised interiors, writes Robert YAWE.

MANY OF US ASPIRE TO OWN A HOME, yet we unfortunately end up with a mere house. These are houses that do not reflect our personalities, aspirations or dreams. We tend to live in a box. These are boxes defined for us by a stranger who provides a standard environment that takes away any possibility of personalisation.

The strangers providing these boxes to survive in are a number of barely creative developers. They hardly appreciate interiors owing to the conveyor belt mentality targeted towards mass production of houses, not homes, never!

It is perturbing that the middle class across East Africa, like in many other parts of the world, is shrinking fast as can be seen from the level of mediocrity we accept. We are fed with substandard products and services to the extent that we accept it as fine and embrace it wholly also delivering similar shoddy services and products ourselves.

Quite a number of developers are providing some shoddy workmanship. Theirs is about cheapening spaces as they use low quality products that crumble even before the defects period is even over.

Unaware of rights

Regrettably consumers are unaware of their rights. The middle class consists of highly educated professionals; unfortunately most of us leave our professionalism in the office to be picked up on the way back into the office next morning or after the weekend.

When you are buying a house either in a new development or as previously owned, make sure that you provide for costs of personalising the house. It is your business to turn it into a home.

First and foremost there is and there will never be a housing boom so long as you do not leave your brains behind when you go house hunting. For instance, the boom that was claimed to be happening in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi in 2005 to 2011 was actually a mirage. Even as I write this, less than 20% of the Nairobi area has been developed or redeveloped. Most of the land is still occupied by low density housing.

Even Runda still has vacant plots on Mimosa drive 30 years after the inception of the project which tells you there is no rush that can justify paying a premium for a shoddy job.

Well then, the rumour of the boom allowed developers to keep cutting corners as hapless buyers kept paying more and more for less and less. I would have expected developers by this stage in the growth to offer less and less in the form of finishes as opposed to less and less in the quality of finishes.

As you go out to search for a house to turn into a home make sure that your 20% initial contribution in the cost of the house goes to provide for your input. Whether it’s a new development or an existing structure make sure your 25% goes to customizing the finishes or that it goes to renovating the unit to your taste.


Be informed that ceramic tiles in the tropics result in cold floors, additional cost of carpets, echoes and an over sanitized feel. They are a cheap floor covering intended for high traffic areas like shopping malls.

If I had the option I would have sheet vinyl flooring rather than ceramic tiles, assuming I cannot afford natural wood flooring (not cheap laminate).

I wonder why many of us still shy away from carpeting our floors yet they give the best option for regular upgrading, it keeps rooms warm and allows you to walk around comfortably without shoes.

We rarely use charcoal “jikos” in our kitchens giving you the freedom to consider warmer flooring options. Even wood flooring can be used in the kitchen. I know that the house I grew up in had PVC tiles in the kitchen which are still looking good 40 years later.

Epoxy flooring is picking up in residential use after many years as industrial flooring; it gives many options for colour.

Our fear of water in the bathroom needs to come to an end, I see developments costing tens of millions yet the bathroom is still treated as a water closet (WC) and not a place of relaxation and tranquillity.

We need to demand quality workmanship where water is contained and leaks should be none existent. It is interesting how you walk into a bathroom and find multiple fluffy mats on the floor and you wonder why do we install ceramic tiles to then cover them with mats? I believe the answer is because the tiles are cold making a certain activity very uncomfortable.


Something that every new house occupant, be it a buyer or renter, needs to do is repaint the walls even if it’s just in plain white. This gives you a sense of ownership to the internal spaces and opens up your mind to new options.

With quality paints now all over the place there is no reason why we should not refresh our walls every year, it might even help you to keep your New Year resolutions. With the proliferation of emulsion (water based) paints that are odourless and fast drying you can paint the house in the morning and sleep soundly in the same room the same night.

Why do we have tiles laid up to the ceiling on the bathroom walls yet there is a shower cubicle and a sink to contain the water? I believe it’s because many of us remember how we used to wash in the river, splashing cold water over our heads.

In the west they need to have tiling to the ceiling, especially in the bathrooms, because they build in materials that are affected by moisture such as gypsum, particle board and ply. We build in stone and then cover the stone (clad) in stone.

The bathroom needs to be rethought by reducing the amount of tiling to provide more room for painted walls and textures that you can redo at a whim. Ceramic tiles once installed are a nightmare to change, why do we allow ourselves to be boxed in by mediocre designers?

Many houses today have a visitors lavatory which you find tiled all around to the ceiling including the floor (which is then covered in fluffy mats) making one feel like they were in a public facility that needed a wall finish that is easy to clean. Why not finish the walls in wall paper of even some abstract mosaic and do not forget the book and magazine rack.


Particle board for cabinet doors is cheaper than MDF and once it is damaged there is little remedy. Also make sure you look at the malpa hinges as they determine how long the cabinet doors will remain aligned.

I believe it would make more sense for the developers to give the buyer the freedom to choose the doors, they can still install the carcasses. Fitting the doors is a day’s work but gives the cabinets that personal touch thereby turning a house into a home.

Interiors Updates

Contemporary African Art



This is a joint exhibition by two artists (Husband & Wife Oywecha and Ruth). Each showing Talent & Own Expressions.

In Ruth’s Art, she expresses her thoughts, dreams and emotions not forgetting other ideas from within and without. She tries to create by seeing everything as they are in constant effort. She has always tried to nourish her feelings and doing so by deriving materials from the world about us and assimilating the external world about us and assimilating the external world within herself and projecting them into mediums as her own creation. Her art has evolved significantly and in the process, she has become an accomplished and prolific artist.

In Oywecha’s painting color and his technique combine to express and or elicit powerful emotions. Some have linked his paintings with cubism, which is sought to depict an intellectual and abstract reality. His paintings have a tendency of pulling apart and examining conventions of existing models of expression, his own characteristics and unique style. Some term his work as geometrical due to its simplification.

0718-500101, 0733-582643

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Interiors Updates




Rarely are middle-class homes built with a top of the level interiors-architectural approach and mix expansive space to allow the home occupant to style the space, but as writes Jeniffer MBOGORI, Kivulini Thika is a rare homely setting with stylish apartments.

The magnificent development of Kivulini Thika situated along the Thika Garissa Road that is only a few minutes drive from Thika’s-Central Business District set a remarkable standard for affordable residential units that’s emerging in Kenya of late.

The awesomely compelling homes spaciously built on a five acre prime land is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious addresses in Thika comprising 31 beautiful maisonettes and 96 stylish apartments.

All residences are characterized by light open spaces, high-quality finishing, and a design concept that few other developments can match.

Refined architectural thinking

With ample parking, stunning landscaping and onsite community shopping facilities Kivulini Thika oozes an ultimate statement of a lifestyle that combines the elements of top class living. Its refined architectural thinking thus offers a special connection to would be home-owner or tenant. Making the good use of Kivulini – a Swahili word that means at the shade -the unique dwelling place gives an impression of quality treat from this sound architecture and interior design works.

There’s no doubt the team behind the project actualized it and put functionality of every room at the forefront. This is certainly where one hardly feels like any other home-buyer or a new tenant in a new place but the inviting environment as well as the architectural works jogs the mind of the visitor to invest.

Large open Plans

While having the homely feel of the maisonettes with three large bedrooms, master en-suite, ample wardrobe space, a separate WC/Shower room, large open plan reception and a dining room with study area and fireplace one can’t help but feel the warmth of modernity that makes Kivulini Thika significantly differently.

The well ventilated spacious kitchen with a large store room adjacent an independent store and yard is so inviting as it is graced with an outdoor nyamachoma terrace and private garden.

Additional benefits to this stylish home is a well thought-out guest WC/cloak room, two dedicated car parking spots and a detached en-suite domestic servants quarter. A fascinating dedicated roof-top clothes-hanging open air space, built-in gas connection with secure external bottle cage depicts a thought process of an architect and interior designer who really had in mind about the functionality of each home.

Interiors at Kivulini Thika is all about going beyond expectations. While the elegance starts from the wow exterior landscape, the interiors speak of switched-on pomp of a lifestyle that is prided by many home seekers or home buyers.

Elegant flooring using high quality tiles, chic built-in wardrobes, quality ironmongery, stylish and practical kitchen cabinets, quality sanitary fittings including vanity basins with mixers/taps, WC and shower gives a tinge of the positives that each residence holds.


For details contact:

3rd floor, Imperial court, Westlands Road, Nairobi
0727 752 244/020 744 593/5/ 0737 151 566

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Interiors Updates

Chummer revamps commercial division



One of the region’s leading fabricators of custom metal works has in recent months moved to strengthen its commercial business division in the wake of huge demand from property developers in the region for the firm’s high quality metal works.

Chummer has been conducting business in the regional market for a while and has grown a reputation for high quality design and fabrication of unique and custom crafted ornamental metal for residential and commercial use.

Ornamental Chummer Iron WorksChummer GardensIn recent months, the firm has stepped up its efforts to serve the wider commercial market in the region.

“The market is thirsty for quality and elegant design,” says the General Manager, Mr. Mudasir Gul. “Gone are the days when you would just fabricate metal and hope for a good day in the market.

We have since found our niche in the art of crafting ornamental metal.”

Given the volumes and quantities involved in this segment of the market, the firm has equally moved to transform is delivery capacity and mechanisms to ensure it can meet demand at any one given time from as many clients.

“It is not easy to deal with a market that is rapidly growing, more so if that market is the commercial segment,” Mr. Gul says. “For instance, to fabricate stair rails that would be fitted in a commercial development of a so many floors may require plenty of material and a faster delivery approach. These are the considerations we have been working upon to ensure we deliver successful as we have so far done.”

It also means having sufficient manpower, equipment and constant supply of electricity to ensure the work is done faster and without any interruptions. Chummer has ensured all these factors are in play, and the firm is believed to be setting a precedent that should be emulated by other players in the industry to ensure the market is served adequately.

Ornamental Chummer“As it is, we can only serve the market to a certain level, however efficient we are at what we do,” Mr. Gul says. “All of us in this segment of the market must wake up to the realities facing us so we keep up pace with the rapidly changing environment for both interiors and exteriors of any building projects in progress.”

The firm has in recent months excelled so well in residential property arena, and is said to be one of the leading suppliers of stair rails, ornamental lighting fixtures, gates, fences, balconies, window frames, metallic beds, tables and chairs as well as plexi glass. The firm has since launched a massive drive for its stainless steel and aluminium product range as well, which has attracted a huge demand from clients.

Chummer is said to be leading the quest to meet the demands of the entire East Africa region with these products, an objective that has placed the firm on a very strong course towards success.

Chummer has been conducting business in the regional market for a while and has grown a reputation for high quality design and fabrication of unique and custom crafted ornamental metal for residential and commercial use.

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