Comeback of country homes

Fair Acres Country Homes in Karen. PHOTO | FILE
Fair Acres Country Homes in Karen. PHOTO | FILE 

Deep in the heart of Laikipia, one of Kenya’s most spectacular game viewing areas, stands the perfectly restored, colonial era Mukima House, with its twin gables, cedar framed windows and large, sweeping verandahs overlooking the rolling lawn towards the house’s private dam, and in the distance, the snow-capped peaks of Africa’s second highest mountain.

This timber and stone mansion could as easily stand in the home counties of England as it could in Kenya’s heart.

The double storey house has five en-suite double bedrooms and three on-suite twin rooms, a game room, office, a large kitchen with store, laundry room, cloakroom, drawing, dining room, a generous entrance hall and an upstairs gallery.

In Tigoni, a Sh2.5 billion Limuru Hills Holiday Homes and Spa project is already taking shape.

The development which features 60 log houses with 35 of them already built is set to give the tea growing Limuru area a totally different look.

For a number of Kenyans, preference is shifting from modern designs to country architecture and the Mukima House could as well be their dream home.

Dan Omari, a consultant in real estate developments and property manager, says some Kenyans favour the warmth and coziness of a country home as they have thick secure structures with shades of brown and autumn colours.

“The older Kenyans and some expatriates prefer these kinds of homes which are a remnant of the old colonial era and wealth,” he says.

If you fancy the timeless architectural designs, Dan says that building such homes in Kenya is also quite easy since there is an abundance of stones and wood which is quite affordable. Labour is also inexpensive.

Avant-garde homes

The newer, modern homes have more glass, steel, large open spaces and require expert contractors and well-trained masons to build.

Most new-generation developers and buyers are more attracted to the avant-garde houses which are now becoming popular in Kenya and some have to source for fine craftsmen from abroad to build as desired.

But these homes cost much more that the old colonial styled-houses because of more specialised engineering and construction, Dan says.

Wycliff Nyachwaya, an architect adds that an individual’s upbringing and exposure dictate whether one will build a country or an avant-garde house.

Fall in love

He says that people who have lived in country homes at some point in their lives or have fallen in love with country homes as a result of exposure from travel or the media are the group that buys or build such houses.

For renters, Wycliff says, architectural style does not necessarily play a big role as they tend to focus more on location, size, cost, and security.

If you want to build a country house, Wycliff advises that it is important to acquire the ideal design that meets your spatial needs that will fit into your parcel of land as well as your budget.

Furthermore, he adds that home owners should be prepared to source for specialised labour in fixing the roofs.

“Such homes give the image of housing that most people are familiar with and have generally accepted over a long period of time. While other housing styles may later become unappealing or unfashionable, these homes will always have a place in the homes market,” he says.