15 February 2019

The Brightest Kitchen in Kigali!

I'm so excited to share with everyone my latest kitchen interior design project, and the bright young woman who lives here! 

Claire is a neighbor, a friend, and a client of NAFASI! She had just decided she was ready to settle into her Kigali house, but wasn't quite satisfied with it as her and her son's home. Luckily Claire called on NAFASI, had some great visions of what home meant to her, and we opened up her space into the cheery welcoming kitchen you see now! 

This is how it used to look:
Can you believe it!?!?

Claire worked with her landlord, as she is renting the house, to share costs for the renovation. It was win-win for everyone! A lot of landlords are ready to make renovations on older homes, and willing to pay for the renovation costs that come with it. Claire was responsible for the interior design costs. This way the owner is able to get free design, and the value increases greatly on their home, and the tenant gets the home they actually want, free of renovation costs. It's a great solution any way you look at it! 

Now, let's meet Claire...

Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What do you do for work? and for fun? How long have you been in Rwanda, and why did you choose to nest here? 

My name is Claire and I’m originally from Omaha, Nebraska. I’ve been living in Rwanda for nearly 7 years, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rusizi district and then working in Field Operations at One Acre Fund, helping small scale farmers across the country to increase their yield and incomes. For fun, I enjoy yoga, boxing, reading, traveling, board games, playing basketball games with my son, and blogging occasionally at http://seekingclaire-ity.blogspot.com

Who lives in your home? How do you like to live? What is an average day like at home? 

My 10 year old son D’Assise, whom I adopted here in Rwanda and I live alone but we’re lucky to have two guest rooms where friends, family, and even perfect strangers stay (I’m a host on Couchsurfing, so people can sign up to stay with me for free). It feels just right for us. I love hosting friends and value hospitality, so I have friends over pretty regularly for drinks, dinner, or boardgames. An average day for D’Assise usually involves waking around 5:45 am to get him ready for school, doing a boxing class or some yoga, a quick shower, and then heading out to work at our Kigali office on my scooter. After work, we’ll often play basketball for a bit after D’Assise is done with his homework, and eat dinner together (he prefers Rwanda food, I usually throw together something more American). By 8:30, he’s getting ready for bed. We normally read together every night, and he usually likes me to stay in his room until he falls asleep. 

Your color palette is so bright and fun! Have you always had a certain vision for your designed home? What has influenced or inspired your style?

I’d say the two things that really influenced my style were traveling and adopting my son! So many homegoods in my house come from my travels: rugs from Morocco, lamps from Egypt, beautiful wooden frames and carvings from Zanzibar, some pillows from Turkey, and my big comfy couch from here in Rwanda! And certain cities really inspire me too; I went to Cartagena, Colombia last year and all the bright colorful buildings just felt like the tropical vibe I wanted for my house in Kigali. Becoming a family was my second inspiration. I wanted our house to feel like a home to my son as well, so I added a few Rwandan accents like Agaseke (peace baskets) and the word “Amahoro” in block letters (which means “Peace” in Kinyarwanda, and it’s also my Peace Corps nickname!) in our kitchen to make sure it feels like our home, not just my home. 

Was this your first time hiring an interior designer? If so, what did you expect from the process? 

This was my very first time working with a designer! Going in, I expected to walk away with designs for a kitchen and bathroom I’d love (spoiler alert: I did), but what was unexpected to me was actually understanding my own style through the process. Teri took me through a fun exercise in the consultation that really made me realize what I liked and what I definitely didn’t like, and that was super cool. In the same consultation, Teri also asked me questions about what I like to do in my house and what I value. It was unexpected at first and I had to reflect on what I really wanted. I wanted a space that felt comfortable to both my son and I. I wanted to be able to host a lot and to have people over but not be isolated from them if I was checking on food or mixing up drinks. I wanted my house to feel sunny and bright and reflect my personality. I didn’t realize before the consultation how much the things I value would play into the final design and how much Teri would really prioritize those things. 

Do you find that your style was represented through NAFASI's work on your home? How do you describe the experience working with NAFASI? How has your home life changed in the process? 

Definitely! Before working with NAFASI, I would be able to say certain things I liked in a house, but didn’t really have a strong sense of what I liked or didn’t like, what I valued in a house or didn’t care about, and how that might impact design and style decisions. In the consultation I really felt like Teri took the time to understand my style and what I really wanted, and the final results really reflect that (for instance, the open floor concept and breakfast bar allow me to still be interacting with guests while I finalize meal prep or to talk to D’Assise while he’s doing homework. The house before felt like a house I was renting, but it didn’t feel like MINE. Now every room I walk through really represents my style. I immediately feel so happy and comfortable when I come through the door, and I hope my guests do too. 

Thanks so much for interviewing with us, Claire! This was definitely a super positive project to work on, and Claire's energy fills up her new home! Thanks for reading along, and I'll leave you with a few before and afters of the kitchen! It's a little hard to understand, because there are a ton of walls and hallways that we knocked down, opening up more space, but each before and after comparison is shot from the same(-ish) angle!

view of kitchen

view of front door

view of hallway

There you have it! Please contact me (here) if you are ready to personalize your home too, just like Claire did! And check my website portfolio (here) to see all of Claire's house photos added soon! Thanks so much for reading.


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