19 June 2017

You Want More?

I can't wait anymore! Here's the Living Room Visualization Board too!

How fun is this!? The turquoise batik as the curtains, all of the fun pillows, and the art is Cuban movie prints we brought here from our last trip! That alone leads to an obviously colorful room. The sunlight pours in our big french doors. The shelf will be filled with our fun books and colorful knick knacks too! The sofa will be the biggest piece in a clean light gray fabric. I loved the look of these floor cushions, and I'm going to try to replicate them here too! Lots of plants inside and a cool indigo rug. Everything leads to a breezy vacation-y natural and organic yet bright and colorful living room we won't want to leave! The goal here was to feel like we're living on vacation... And let's face it- we pretty much are in this gorgeous country! :)


15 June 2017

A Whole New Kitchen in 1 Day

Do you remember our "kitchen" before? Yeah this one-

THIS one- Where the faucet didn't reach the sink, and things fell behind the counter through the inch of open space, and the wood countertop was moldy, and the sink was only 4" deep?!?

Say GOODBYE to that mess. Luckily they had a bunch of extra supplies left over from other projects in storage here, and I got to go through them and use them to update our kitchen!! :) I chose these huge high gloss black (probably floor) tiles and chose them for our backsplash! (Gotta admit- Patrick was the one who suggested we even get a backsplash. I didn't think that we would have a chance. I believe we now have the only tile backsplash in all of Rubengera.) Here I'm laying the tiles on the floor to show the installers how I wanted them staggered and not lined up for the backsplash.

This is a stone countertop that they also had extra of! Now we had to cut it a lot and it has 2 seams along that one small countertop space, but it's MY first ever stone countertop!! Our rental had nasty 70's green laminate, that I then laminated over again with a bad faux wood laminate. They/We are calling this countertop granite. I'm totally not sure what it actually is. It's some kind of composite I imagine? But it's granite here, OK?!

This sink was in storage too! The WHOLE TIME! Now I would've preferred one larger vessel than the double sink, ideally a nice farm sink. But when it's free and SO much better, and right there while all the installers are too.. you say OK and smile! They had a brand new beautiful faucet to go with it too! They tried to install it into the same place on the wall. I quickly swooped in.

This is after they removed the old wood countertop.

Cutting our countertop!!!!! (See our old nasty sink back there too?!)

So here the countertop is placed in, they shelves are down, and he's tearing up the wall to re-cement where the backsplash will go.

There goes our backsplash! I actually really love the XL tile size. It's funky. :) And do you see our new sink and shiny new faucet nicely placed in the center of the sink?!!

WHATTTTT!!??!?!?!? :):):):)

You can see the 2 seams here. I tried to get them NOT to put the silicon on the TOP of the counter, just the inside, but it didn't work. They said they would scrape it off the top tomorrow. Don't ask me why. It didn't really scrape off. But whatever- I have a granite countertop!

Back to work the next day! I asked them to use the wood from the previous shelves to make open shelves, and wood brackets instead of the metal ones there before. I think an improvement! They pulled all those loose cords up under the ceiling too, so I don't have to look at those anymore.


One more!

And here's what it is looking like today. Still not totally done. We're adding a third shelf above, and will most likely paint all the cabinetry blue! But my oh my what a drastic improvement!

That door needs to be replaced too huh...


12 June 2017

Get Ready To Love This Visualization Board

It's time to show off the big plan! I've been so excited to share this! Getting this together really lit a fire in the whole project for me. When I have something more tangible to look at as an end goal, it really motivates me to move on each piece of building my home. Now that I can totally imagine how I want our home to be, I don't feel like waiting to live in it! I want to make moves and get it done. :)

I also find it very helpful as a designer to treat myself like how I treat all of my clients. Otherwise, it is very easy to get lost in the millions of design directions I could go. I like to nail down one direction, set the plan, and implement it through and through. So yes- I made myself my own visualization boards! :)

The inspiration for the kitchen came first, I think because it was in the most need. I knew I wanted to have fun with this kitchen and make it colorful (even though that's not necessarily what Patrick would want) because one day we'll live in the same house for years and years, and I'll probably make that one more neutral. For now- why not make it young like we are!? And now we're in Rwanda, what better place to express color?! The backsplash is black because that's what they already had in storage for us, and I also love it! So that's where I started. Here's where I ended!

How great will this be!? Blue cabinetry! We have off-white curtains and the thought is to paint them like mud cloth. Pops of more colors on our open shelves, and a pink rug in the kitchen!? Yes. Please let me know your thoughts! I'm wondering if I can actually pull this off here. :)


03 June 2017

Setting the Plan

This is my all time favorite part of the whole project. When you're in the design phase, anything is possible. I can try out color combinations, and custom dimensions, and become inspired by everything. 

I usually start any project with a layout, and this time was no different. I had the dimensions of our small and cozy house, and I wanted it to feel bigger. We already had the kitchenette in place, and so rooms were defined kitchen and living room. They were nice and open to each other though! The kitchen space leaves plenty of room, probably for a dining table next to the kitchenette. Patrick and I already spent the last year and a half with a tiny kitchen though!! And our front porch was the best spot for eating anyways.. So we thought it would be better to move the dining table outside with the view, and build our kitchen out even bigger. We ordered a refrigerator and stove which came pretty quickly, and then I got to measuring for more cabinets and a huge island! 

Now the kitchen seems pretty big, huh?! The thought of the island is that it can be on wheels and it is bar height. We can move it around and multi-purpose it as a bar, even outside! Or we can move it back towards the window if it is in the way. It provides a ton of extra storage and counter space as well which we were lacking. Here's the drawing:

It is surprisingly challenging working in meters when you're used to feet! The other wall opposite the kitchenette right now just has the refrigerator and the stove. I want to add some cabinets in between each of these so it seems like one long kitchen island space along both sides. I also want them to be able to move around so that if we move, we can take these pieces with us. I will most likely paint these cabinets as well as the ones on the kitchenette blue to create some sort of balance. The island in the middle will be a dark stained wood. 

Then for the living room! It is pretty tiny, so I didn't want to overcrowd it with furniture. Patrick was desperate for a big comfortable couch that is deep and long enough for him, and I liked that idea too. It has to be big enough to snuggle! :) So I opted out of a coffee table. We will have Nami here soon, and she will appreciate the extra floor space too. I'm thinking about floor cushions instead maybe. I drew this up for our sectional-like sofa and ottoman.

Now I have been warned many times that no matter the drawing, the end result will probably have some surprises, or it will be off in some way. So while I like my drawing, I'm trying not to get my heart set on it being perfect. There's some other ambitious ideas here too. I want to build a long shelf for our projector, and a media table across from the sectional. One of the more scary ideas: an apothecary cabinet for the bathroom. 

We want to build out our front porch to make an even bigger deck out front.

And I have a lot of ambitious drapery and curtain rod ideas! 

There are plenty more drawings and more custom pieces, but I won't bore you with all of them right now. Hopefully they all come out as planned, and soon enough! And you know when there's a floorplan, a visualization board is soon to follow! I'll save those for next time! :)


01 June 2017

The Distance You Go To Get Out of A Funk

One weekend in the beginning of living here, I was having a harder time than usual adjusting to my new life. Now, after being here about one full month, I am getting used to the idea that it will take a little time to get our house to where I want it. But it is very unsettling coming back to a dusty empty house, especially before I came to my new peace with it. My remedy for that weekend is as follows. 

First, I met Joe Christa. She is an Interior Designer here and a very hip young Rwandan woman! She automatically made me feel better. I could relate to her, and she knew all the cool places to go to get me on a good start. We organized a time to go to Kigali together and she could show me around! Kigali is about 2.5 hours away from where I live, and I made the trip there and back on that Friday. Oh boy was it necessary! 

She first showed me Kimironko Market where I bought some decorative baskets and these awesome stools that are traditionally meant for sitting in while you cook ugali. (Ugali is the staple carb that I am very familiar with from Tanzania as well!)

She took me to the Kigali Market that had tons of different shops, and this one had plenty of fabric options that we were looking for to use as the backing of pillows. I brought a bunch of fabrics from the US that I wanted to turn into fun pillows here, they just needed a fun color on the back!

These are my fabrics from home being paired with the backing fabrics at the market. And I saw that stool in the market which I snapped a pic of because it inspired me to create metal bar stools for our kitchen as well!

Then we went to another fabric shop to choose the fabric that I will cover our custom sofa with. I landed on this really light gray with a basketweave pattern. I love it! We also went to a bunch of kitenge and batik shops where I could look at all of the more traditional African fabrics to make curtains out of. Here's the blue batik I ended up buying! Our living room is going to be pretty colorful. :)

I also went back to T2000 and found the mattress section! The typical mattresses here are hard foam. For the first 2 weeks here, it was the MOST uncomfortable thing ever. Maybe Patrick and I are getting old too, but both of our backs were hurting every morning from the old foam mattress. It was a big splurge, but I know how rare a spring mattress is here, and while I knew that this mattress purchase would not fit my bed, I had to get one to save our backs. It was also really fun testing each of them out with Joe Christa!

After hauling the huge mattress back to Rubengera, we placed it over the old mattress. Once home, I realized it's not AS comfortable as I first thought. We can feel the springs... BUT our backs are fine now and we're getting a full night's sleep! Bonus! They also agreed to replace our bed frame for us with a new custom one that fits the size of our new bigger mattress. It's about the size of a King! :)

The next morning I woke up refreshed from a springy sleep and feeling much more settled. It was the beginning of the home re-design phase. Things were happening. Drawings were made, pillows were being sewn, projects initiated! I was feeling good. The final phase of this feel good weekend was to celebrate! ;) You know that view from our window I keep showing off? Well Patrick and I hiked through a banana forest to get all the way down there to Lake Kivu!!

It took about an hour, and once we hit the lake, we ran into a bunch of people and some fishermen. One of the fishermen was from the Congo (right across the lake) and spoke Swahili, so fortunately I could speak with him to organize a boat over to the town where there are hotels and places to eat and drink.

We're on a boat!

We made it to our first hotel and had a couple beers. And check out that view! Then we headed to another hotel on the lake, The Cormoran. Beautifulllll!!! If any of you follow me on Snapchat, you may have seen our giggly moto ride from one hotel to the next. :) 

By Sunday I was over my funk. I had committed to moving forward instead of feeling unsettled. How could I not enjoy this gorgeous country?! The only thing that made me feel even better? My mom sent me this adorable picture of Nami back in New York. Life is pretty good! :)