Connect with us

Every person ought to be inquisitive through every hour of his or her adventurous life, writes ROBERT YAWE whilst stressing that even a seemingly ‘silly’ question fires-up those in the creative interiors world.
THERE IS A SWAHILI SAYING “kuuliza sio ujinga” that loosely translates to “asking a question is not a sign of stupidity”.
This is close to a proverb I picked while in school which in part reads: “He who knows not and knows he knows not: is a simple-teach”. I am simple. Why do I say this? Not a single day passes without asking a question to better understand an issue, be it to a colleague, stranger or even my nine year old daughter.
I was recently asked why I am able to keep such diverse and detailed information in my head, many of you might not be aware that my core day to day activities are as an ICT consultant yet I feel confident enough to comment on issues pertaining to interiors as well as on personal finance.
Well, am humbled that this article is queued for publishing during the third Ideal Interiors Expo. As you plan to visit the event or should you even miss it get ready to ask questions. Put on your thinking and inquisitive caps and fear not to ask even that stupid question. It might be the question that will change your lifestyle or even the interiors business.

Never stop questioning

As a living being I am a daily consumer of interiors be it at home, in the office, the car or even a restaurant I have to interact with interiors and as a curious and inquisitive person I never stop questioning but most important I have never stopped asking.
This realization makes me feel sorry for my parents as I am sure the terrible twos must have been a nightmare for them especially with regards to those unending “why” questions.
Many of us unfortunately remain ignorant as a result of fearing to ask a question which has serious effects on our ability for mental regeneration. I read recently that just changing a basic routine as the sequence of dressing can greatly reduce the onslaught of dementia that comes with aging.

Rudimentary question

I am proud to say that in the area of inquisitiveness I remain a five-year old and I also have the lack of shame to go with it as I will ask what would seem as the most rudimentary question in what many might deem as the most inappropriate environment.
With the advent of the internet and more precisely search engines my knowledge of various issues grows exponentially every day, how many of you can claim to learn something new at least once a week?
After acquiring our first real estate property I decided to undertake the renovations myself even though I had no prior experience. It took 3 or so months before I commenced as I spent the time visiting construction sites, hardware stores and the various furniture and sanitary showrooms.
The fellows at the Bamburi Special Products building centre, which unfortunately was shutdown, new me by smell as I was a regular visitor and even went to the extent of actually paying a subscription to become a registered member, as is said education is expensive but try the alternative.

Like a trained expert

Initially the staff would humour me and my extremely basic questions relating to cement and by extension concrete but after a few more weekends of my regular visits and as my questions became more probing they took me more seriously.
The knowledge I acquired has been indispensable especially as I have delved into more and more complex real estate development and renovation projects. Today I can read a bill of quantities like a trained expert.
Asking questions like how thick should wall plaster be helped me a lot in accepting quarry dressed stone as opposed to site dressed stone. The uniform shape and even face of the stone means that you need only the required minimum of half an inch where as with site dressed stone it would be as thick as two inches.
The difference might not seem like much until you take the surface area of all the walls in the house and then the cents begin to turn into hundreds of shillings and there goes your project budget.
Do you, the reader, know the recommended height of a kitchen worktop, the height from the ground of a power socket or the position of a kitchen sink drain? I know the answers of each and every one of these questions because I dared to ask what in many peoples minds mind seem like a stupid question, know you go out and ask.

Knowledgeable consumers ask

Many a times we assume that the interior designer, architect or “fundi” (artisan) know the answers, but all you need to do is walk into most of the developments going on around the country and you will realise that many of them seem not to know.
I am not saying that they are quacks but that many have become lax as a result of none knowledgeable consumers who do not ask questions. Using your body as a measuring device, note a height of 3 feet from your feet then use this as you visit various developments to measure the kitchen worktop height.
If you find two different developments with countertops of the same height you can claim Kes. 1,000/- from me (offer valid for first 3 claimants).
A difference of 3 or 4 inches might not seem like much visually but the stress and agony it causes you with continuous use of the surface will make you miserable. The unfortunate thing is that you might never get to associate the symptoms with the non-standard height.
In the previous issue of the Ideal Interiors magazine I covered issues of finishes and the fact that many people believe that ceramic flooring is superior to wood and PVC. To the uninitiated this might seem like the case but for those in the know ceramic flooring is the least appealing of flooring finishes especially in the tropics.
As you plan to visit the forthcoming Ideal Interiors expo to be held at the Village Market please go with an inquisitive mind and fear not to ask that stupid question as it might be what stands between a habitable house or a life-long source of stress. It could also be the answer to why you feel sick immediately you start the journey back home in the evening.

Edition 07

Beating the budget



The process of investing on interiors calls for one to partner with a professional who can realistically execute and complete the project within given timelines and estimated amounts writes NYAMBURA KINUTHIA.

IN OUR EVERYDAY LANGUAGE, the word BUDGET surfaces. It is a household name in government circles, corporate world, business world and the Small Medium Enterprises. In several homes, the language is about apportioning money for school fees, domestic consumption, staff, house shopping, projects and the list is endless. Budgeting is thus the way of living.
Well, in some instances, budget will be used to mean “cheap”, to work “smart” or to have a “reality”. With the same breath, when a client engages an interior designer to work with them, the word “budget” means “let us work smart and on reality and where necessary cut down cost and not compromise quality”.
Realise and actualise

Therefore, budget in interior design is not about cutting down costs or going “cheap”. Budget is a reality-check, a must do exercise in order to realise and actualise envisioned purpose on the intended project.
It is therefore very essential that when you as a client start a project, it is paramount to engage and interior designer well in advance to come up with the realistic project budget before the interiors stage start.

Understanding requirements

The interior designer works closely with the client to understand the client requirements and the intended use of the space – office, home and hotel set-ups. They then develop a check list of works and suggest as well as guide the client on different materials suitable for particular areas. Among the items to consider are:-

  • The nature of interior finishing and furnishing materials to be used considering materials wear and tear and effect to the interior design.
  • What effect will time have on the new design.
  • How the colours will impact the design.
  • How each new interior design element will relate to the overall scheme.
  • What other product and finishing material options can be available.

The amount budgeted for a project is contingent upon project location, clientele, type of finish, quality of material used and the design details unique to the client environment and taste. Your designer will be able to help you with these details.
Consolidate project finances
As the designer will help the client determine the budget and a completion timeline, this gives you as the client space to consolidate project finances before work execution thus primarily saving you time and money.
Another area greatly affected by budget is the day-to-day project management that include:-

  • Site interpretation of the proposed designs.
  • Evaluation of quantity of materials required on each area before purchase to avoid wastage.
  • Your Interior Designer can take on all project management aspects or they
  • can consult with you as you act as general contractor/project manager
  • Will coordinate all trades as they have the expertise (electricians, carpenters, architects, engineers) from a scheduling and design stand point to ensure the project is completed per schedule.

Your Interior designer who has an understanding of the specialized needs of the client will work with the client to develop concepts that transform their spaces into an environment that has a unified look; and environment that is inviting to clientele and employees while Creating an image.
Below is an example (not exhaustive) of a broad check list based on hospitality outlet that your interior designer will come up with to help with the project budgeting:-

  • Flooring: ceramic tile, carpet, stained concrete slab, wood, linoleum, etc.
  • Wall covering: paint, wallpaper, faux finish, wall treatment and wall texture, wood panel.
  • Ceiling: paint, mouldings, gypsum ceiling, T&G etc.
  • Lighting: task, decorative, etc.
  • Window treatments: blinds, curtains, shades, etc.
  • Bars: size, style, equipment, finishes
  • Furniture: barstools, tables, chairs, lounge seating, etc.
  • Tabletop: centerpieces, tabletop accessories, etc.
  • Decorative accessories: artwork, mirrors, pictures, sculpture
  • Fixtures: display fixtures
  • New additions: new walls, conceptual architectural elements, etc.
  • Labour costs: The list above represents material costs. Don’t forget labour
  • Administration – Licence
  • Structural changes
  • Sound Systems
  • Accoustical considerations
  • Kitchen equipments and appliances.
  • Sanitary fittings and mixtures
  • Flexible Nightclub lighting
  • Design Consulting Fees
  • Soft furnishings: linen
  • Cutlery & crockery

This kind of list helps the client to get started. Your Interior Designers will work with the client to come up with the options, quality and quantity which will help work out the budget after selection and zeroing of preferred materials. This must do exercise helps the client save money by taking advantage of the designer planning, design and construction experience.
Entering into an interior finishing or renovation project without adequate knowledge can be very costly as experience has shown over the time.
Consulting with an interior designer is a wise way of saying “I will work and partner with a professional to realistically execute and complete project that has been professionally managed smartly and within budget to create that envisioned unique and functional space”.
Nyambura is the Head Designer at the Nairobi based, Zidaka Interiors

Continue Reading

Edition 07




Electrical and General Appliances

EGA’s main focus is to supply, install and service high quality equipment sourced from world-renowned manufacturers in USA and Europe.  The company offers a wide variety of equipment to choose from which is unmatchable, and a lot of inventory to insure faster delivery times, and on-demand availability.

Despite success over the years, EGA has faced challenges with counterfeit products or lower quality products from the Far East. These products appear to be cheaper based on their price tag attracting many price conscious consumers. “However,   many customers do not realize that the specification of the cheaper equipment are not as powerful, less cost effective, have significantly worse performance and have a shorter life, costing you significantly more money in the long run when it comes to servicing, parts, and opportunity cost lost due to under-performing or non-functioning equipment.” says Shiraz Ramji, Managing Director, EGA.

EGA focuses on supplying the best quality equipments, installation, service, and advice for all their customers’ laundry needs; while practicing business ethically and professionally.



Continue Reading

Edition 07

Saffarini exacts new architectural standards



A new concept in architectural design has landed in East Africa courtesy of Eng. Adnan Saffarini Office (Africa branch), by KelaiWanjiru.  With a strong heritage and history in the United Arab Emirates, the architectural and design consultancy is surely changing the design of urban cities in the region. Already strategically initiating projects in various parts of the city, Eng. Adnan Saffarini Office has set foot with the aim to establish new property models that are sustainable as well as architecturally unique.

Being the brains behind most of the world famous towers in Dubai like the Princess Tower  (the tallest residential tower in the world) The Elite tower in Marsa Dubai, and  the Mohammed Ishmael Tower.  Some of the Office landmarks include Universities, Shopping Malls, Skyscrapers, Embassies, Warehouses, Schools, Mosques, Villas, Commercial and Residential Buildings.Adding glory to the firms many credits is the AI-Zaher Palace, which belongs to His Highness Sheik Rashed AI Noeimi, which was a distinguished project designed by EAS, and is printed on the first Currency of UAE, a fifty Dirham Bank note.  A building of notability is the Falcon city of wonders in the heart of Dubai, built to resemble a falcon, is another world famous project designed and supervised by the Eng. Adnan Saffarini Office in Dubai.

Eng. Adnan Saffarini Africa is set to change the way real estate developers and architects in East Africa view projects.  The engineers, architects and technical staff at the esteemed firm not only look at projects from a profit making perspective, but they go deeper to create aesthetic appeal, incorporate unique value adding aspects of every development, and give each one an exclusive architectural dimension that will leave an impression not to be matched over the ages.

Saffarini Africa has also endeavoured to change the city of Nairobi with new developments set to begin.  Already identified is a shopping mall in the heart of Eastleigh that’s set to beat any other complex in the region.

Built to accommodate the whole family, the complex will have a unique in-house all inclusive value added services.  The engineers behind this concept are convinced that the complex will be so welcoming and inviting that average time spent in the mall will be 4 hours.  Other developments are a 4 star hotel in the heart of Nairobi city and a city in the wilderness of OngataRongai.  The city resort will be 100 per cent eco-friendly with dams around the complex and residents having a panoramic view of the Nairobi National Park.

According to the regional director, Africa MahadMohamudKarani the firm aims to create design concepts that when actualised, are simple, realistic and sustainable. Small features like setting areas aside for taking walks, riding bikes, playgrounds for the children and security are what Saffarini Africa has taken into consideration.  In the various developments handled by the firm, one will notice that attention to detail is imperative and

With a vision to change architectural concepts to attain international standards, Saffarini Africa is a firm with a vision for Africa.


Eng. Adnan Saffarini Office

Engineering Consultants

International house 10th Floor

Mama Ngina Street

P. o. Box 22173 – 00100 Nairobi, Kenya

Website :

Tel: +254 20 2225355 / +254 20 2225551

Fax:+254 20 2224999


SaffariniAfrica .. A vision for Africa

Continue Reading