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Since lives will never ever be static, demand for designing spaces to flexibly cater for changes that must happen on the course of adult life and beyond call’s for thinking that cares of functionality writes, Robert YAWE.

Our lives are not a static image. In it is dynamism. In it are changing scenarios. This being the case, I wonder why is it that our spaces do not factor these changes especially at the initial design stage!

I appreciate that customisation might be expensive but flexibility is not. For one, we are built with exactly the same general form and function; but with a little tweaking, we can adapt our bodies to different conditions.

The ability of a sprinter to cover 100 meters in less than 10 seconds is not about customisation but flexibility, the ability to develop certain specific parts of the body such as burn rate and muscle toning.

Well then; let’s get back to the main issue of this article and that is the designing of spaces to flexibly cater for the changes that will definitely take place during the course of one’s adult life and beyond.

If changes in my lifestyle conditions are a forgone conclusion then shouldn’t the space I occupy also be able to change?  This is a discussion I have had with some architects and interior designers but unfortunately the one I have talked to have been unable to think it through in detail.

Due to this we persist in building fortresses to defend the occupants from battering rum type invasions both from within and without by using 200 mm or wider quarry cut stone walls to separate the master bedroom from its ensuite bathroom or the kitchen from the dining room.

I have yet to experience an event where there was need to stop someone in the sitting room from ramming into the dining room. For the master bedroom one might be validated for those who watched the movie “Panic Room”.

By using solid masonry walls within the house we reduce the flexibility of the spaces and force the occupants to either adapt to the providing space allocation or alternatively move to another dwelling.

The implications of this inflexibility that we have been building into our houses for over 50 years now can be seen with the disappearance of leafy suburbs such as Kilimani, Kileleshwa and Lavington as a result of spaces that were inflexible to the changing stages of the residents.

More recently seen demands from residents of affluent suburbs to have sewers installed so as to save the Kes 5,000/- annual evacuation costs and also insisting that they be allowed to engage private garbage collection and receive water from the County Government.

This reaction is not really about cost but more the frustration of aging and retiring residential base to whom watching the pennies has become essential.  The inability to repurpose the houses means that they cannot generate any revenue or keep the maturing children home to subsidise costs.

The discussion will soon degenerate into a serious economic and social war that shall see this affluent suburbs go the way of other “controlled developments”, we saw Karen drop from 5 acre blocks to the current quasi-half acre plots.

A recently development of a golf estate an interesting model had been experimented with where there would be blocks of apartments within the development.

In the initial planning iteration the block of 6 apartments (2 x 1 bed and 4 x 2 bed) would have been seated on a half-acre plot just like the other design options which were monstrous single family dwelling units.

This was an interesting twist to the current strategies but they failed in the fact that they wanted to sell each unit in the block of apartments separately.  If they had sold all six as a single unit they would have created a totally new market segment.

Since both the single family mansion with 6 all ensuite rooms + staff quarters for 2 and the six unit block has roughly the same built up area the difference in occupants is non-existent.

So instead of a single young executive (empty nest 1) buying the 6 bedroom unit they could buy the 6 units plot convert the top 2 units into a bachelor pad with lovely views.  One of the other units can be converted into a shared space such as a gym and the other units rented off or used by those pesky younger siblings or long-stay relatives.

When they decide to get married and the children start popping (full house) they can take up more of the space by making the necessary conversion along the way until at some point they occupy the entire unit as a single family.

As the children start maturing, they can recreate the independent units to provide the children with a level of independence while still having them close by. This is more appealing than having them remain in their childhood rooms into old age; what has been called “failure to launch” syndrome.

The usual attrition will happen as the children start moving away from home as they get married and take control of their lives far away from disruptive grandparents.

As we get to this point, as the couple enters empty nest and they are weak in the knees – they would move downstairs to one of the 2 bedroom units and then rent off the other units or take in the grand children or that very close aging couple who are tired of living alone in a six bedroom all ensuite house.

The cycle would then begin again allowing the house to transform so as to meet the changing lifestyle and stages of the owner. To achieve this flexibility it is essential that we stop building fortresses and instead develop homes that change with our needs.

Edition 14

Spaces we love



Life’s certainly interesting. The New Year 2015 marks yet another beginning of an interesting slate of spaces we create and style. The spaces; our homes, offices and hotels address needs and make the occupants comfortable or even uncomfortable. This indeed raises the questions; “What are the trends? Do we love the spaces occupy? Do we?”

Well, this edition – interestingly the New Look copy in a New Year – has highlights more on creativity and creative works on interiors. The innovative minds are expected to blow our minds in 2015 with solutions that we for long desired in spaces we love.

Bouquet of trendiness

For one, the obstacles that plague the spaces we live in, spaces we work from and entertain ourselves; have interesting solutions. These aspects squarely revolve around ample space, light and budget – the big three. They might look cheap but it’s only the passionate, inspired and talented minds who will embrace the 2015 and beyond bouquet of trendiness.

This copy explores a wide variety of furniture and furnishings, successfully styled-up rooms and never before published projects. By doing so, we hope to offer ideas that can be tweaked accordingly to a sliding scale of needs.

Big-ticket dream

Ideas and showrooms highlighted in this edition thus present worthwhile showcases. The plethora of new product lines, décor accessories, craft to behold and art to cherish stands to thrill you when you choose this year to venture out for the budget-conscious picks to big-ticket dream purchases.

Thrilled we are to also share insights about the thought provoking Ideal Interiors Expo 2015, themed: Transforming Places and Spaces! This annual industry event is one that anyone in the field of styling spaces cannot afford to miss. You miss it, you miss out.

For one, since the journey of the Ideal Interiors Expo begun in 2010, the pleasure of working with a great group of business leaders have helped transform the interiors marketplace. At the event that’s dedicated to bringing together interior design industry, architects and security professionals, homeowners and home developers, home-sellers and estate managers, hoteliers and procurement product specifiers remains upbeat.

It is humbling to see how the industry has embraced the trendy efforts and remain upbeat to new ideas and potential programs based on addressing the needs of the industry. From your input, we have identified several areas that you, our customers, have said we should focus while organizing the thought-provoking exhibitions and writing this publication.

Please continue to help us identify ways to support our manufacturing and retail industry sectors. Let us hear from you.

As a committed team of industry players, we’ll uphold areas of your interest. It is only then that we will continue to make a difference in the spaces we love.

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