There are homes and offices that you set foot in and for a moment, you are almost breathless by the show of perfection. You struggle to figure out how everything blends in so perfectly and the unique colours flow into the curtains, floors and walls seamlessly. Well, most of these homes or offices have been created by interior designers.
Stacey Mbindyo, an associate at Terry Designs, a company in Nairobi says interior designers make a home usable and aesthetically appealing.
‘‘We plan the spaces, themes, colours, concepts and then implement them to positively transform the house,’’ she says.
And because they bring sophistication to contemporary kitchens, bedrooms and even bathrooms, interior designers are not cheap.
“The costs depend on many factors such as whether it is a new house or a renovation or whether a client wants a moderate or a high-end finishing,” she says. However, for Sh100,000, a homeowner can perhaps upgrade a bedroom with the money going into painting the room, fixing curtains and changing bed furnishings.
Designing a kitchen can cost about Sh20,000 while implementing the design can push up the price to Sh1.2 million. “But we have kitchen designs that can cost Sh500,000, depending on the size and details,” says Ms Mbindyo whose customers include hotels and resorts, offices, homes and schools.
She adds that interior designers work with the budgets of the customers but it has to be realistic.
“Don’t have a very low budget and expect high-quality work because the service and furnishings are informed by market prices,” she says.
If a homeowner wants to change the look by playing with the curtains, an interior designer can charge anything from Sh300,000 while tiling in a cloakroom can cost Sh60,000.
Chege Gitura of Chege Designers, whose company has been transforming Kenyan homes and hotels for years agrees that interior design is costly but necessary because it elevates a living or working space.
“Designers are trained professionals who will give you the correct advice. You can even design one room after another, depending on your budget but getting a designer makes a lot of difference in a house,” he says.
“With Sh100,000, you are just looking at consultancy fees and if you are talking about smaller residential houses, this amount can also afford you a few lighting fixtures— depending on the kind that you are looking at—and maybe a ceiling and some curtains,” he explains. For high-end finishes, Mr Gitura adds, Sh100,000 may not do much considering that some lighting fixtures can cost that much.
The work of an interior designer is to customise an empty space to suit the needs of clients by determining the perfect lighting, partitions, tiles, curtains, and paints among other fixtures.
“Our clients are mainly corporates such as insurance firms and banks, but also well-to-do individuals approach us for personal projects,” he says.
Mr Gitura who has been in the industry since 1980s says interest in interior designers is growing because Kenyans are becoming aware of the benefits of having a nicely done living space. But the take-up is still low due to high costs.
Varying the materials used helps cut costs. The options include less-expensive recycled home accessories such as upholstered tyres that can be adapted to fit the lounge area or outdoors.
Tabitha Gikeri of Tag House in Nairobi’s Thika is among those making cheaper home-grown accessories that still help create an ambience that is unique.
“We make home decorations from recyclable materials such as wine bottles and tyres. These are usually combined with sisals or yarn. For the tyres, I use either glass or wood boards for the top part and paint,” she explains.
“These are mostly people who just want their home to look different,” she says.