When Kajal Shah and her husband Mehul Shah moved into their house in Nairobi two years ago, they both had ideas of what they wanted. Kajal wanted a rustic and natural look while her husband wanted a modern style. They had to find a balance of both tastes, after several clashes.
If I could describe a comfortable seat, this house could have earned it.
‘’I started doing research six months before moving in. I love the Italian touch and very sober colours, so I decided to go more neutral so that I can match them with anything," she says.
She is not a professional interior designer but her house looks like one. The light cream Argentina leather couches with two rock brown leather couches are in the seating area. She has four bedrooms, a seating and dining area, an open island kitchen where she spends at least five hours of her daytime in, a spacious balcony and an exterior servant’s quarter in an apartment set-up.
‘’I travel a lot and see décor of all kinds. This helps me open my eyes to what I want around me,’’ she says.
On flooring, when the home was being constructed, Kajal was very intent on having a wooden floor though her husband was reluctant.
‘’I woke up one morning and decided if it’s not wood on the floor then it’s on the ceiling, my husband could not digest that I wanted an additional ceiling on top of what we had,’’ she laughs,
They synchronised a Finland tick effect wooden panels on their living room, dining area and on top of their breakfast table bringing a unique concept of wood. Their beautifully placed chandeliers completed the aesthetic.
Her dining table is a craft that she does not like "people to move the chairs. "I want it as intact the way it is. Cleaning and polishing the table is on me, I can’t handle it if anyone cleans it," she says.
But it is the wall that is the most striking. She hired a muralist to uniquely craft a three-dimensional relief artwork.
‘’In Indian culture, it’s a norm, every space that you get, you put a piece of furniture but I thought of doing art on this wall and honestly, anyone who comes to my home is completely stunned by this art," she says.
She has played around with colour. The island kitchen is maroon, black and white, a shift from the traditional white or grey.
She has antique pieces, some as old as 80 years.
‘’Traditionally this [a Moroccan chest] was given by parents to their girls when they got married. It was used for storage since there was nothing like cabinets back then. It’s almost 80 years old, I got it at an exhibition here in Nairobi,’’ she says.
Her coffee table and console are made of thick glass frames with wooden holdings.
‘’These are railway wooden tracks which are now about 100 years old. Most people don’t know their value so they dispose of them but I loved how they looked stunning in my home,’’ she says.
What brings life to her home?
Her Buddhas, red roses and dried flower petals easily form part of the decor.
‘’I believe a lot in religion, I also believe the Buddha is one of the highest beings that gives you peace of mind, so I do have a lot of Buddha pieces around me."
There is a hallway console where she keeps a Buddha that is crafted like a water fountain.
‘’I believe a water fountain in your home brings you good luck. I went to Nepal and bought this beautiful piece it’s a musical bowl, I get a sense of peace in the house when I run it,’’ she adds.
The red roses sit in vases on the consoles and kitchen, while some bras holders have dried flower petals as décor.
The Bar at B6
Kajal describes herself as a homemaker but despite that, she took mixologist classes to achieve a win on both creativity and entertainment.
The ultimate goal of having a home bar is to have fun and enjoy drinks with family and friends without leaving the comfort of your home. On her balcony is The Bar at B6.
Being a home filled with love and laughter, Kajal made us notice words crafted on the board at her bar reading ‘’Back off I have a crazy wife and am not afraid to use her’’ that her husband made.
‘’It has been my dream to have a home bar on my balcony and this house gave me space for that. The weather is nice in Kenya, my focus was to have my cocktails as I enjoy the activities outside," she says.
At the far end of the balcony, she has a Zen wall that was hand-painted alongside plant decorations.
Where does she get her home décor items? ‘’I have used a lot of local artists to compile my home. But I also import,’’ she says.
The extremity of the house has wide glass windows glazed to allow enough light inside to emit positive vibes.
‘’I enjoy different views from both ends of my house. We have a view of Express Way in Waiyaki, Ngong Hills, the Aberdare Ranges and on a clear day we see Mt Kenya,’’ she says.
Is her forever home?
"When children are young we want big homes, but they slowly leave as they age. It’s been two years since we moved in and I think my house is full. The way I have done my house, the most I would do is reshuffle and make it look new because it’s enough. I would never trade it for anything," she says.