Inside Nazlin’s Home with a Rustic Charm

Nazlin Umar at her Parklands home on February 28, 2017. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG
Nazlin Umar at her Parklands home on February 28, 2017. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG 

When Nazlin Umar Rajput looks at a forest filled with rotting, fallen trees or eroded ones at a river bank, she sees furniture.

At her home in Parklands in Nairobi, her love for the environment is evident. She has reclaimed rotting, chopped and old logs, turning them into unique pieces of furniture.

From dinner seats, coffee tables, wardrobes to outdoor loungers, her home evokes a rustic charm and all the furniture have a story behind them which started at a river bank or a forest.

“I got the logs from river banks and forests which I used to make posts and legs of the seats and beds. The rest of the furniture is made from drift wood found in private dams, streams, which would otherwise end up as firewood,” she says.

For Nazlin, the rot from nature and the wood being eaten to a shell is a perfection in itself.

‘‘I see art in the wood and not the rot. The more rotten, eaten, or eroded the logs are, the better. I ensure that they are no longer insect habitats before taking them,” she says.

To kill the insects in the wood, she soaks them in kerosene then leaves them to dry. She further applies clear varnish which leaves the wood looking natural. Further, the furniture is applied with wax which also prevents the wood from rotting.

The wood is then scrubbed with sand to give it a smooth finish. Instead of buying leather-or-suede upholstered seats which are pricey, Nazlin says the old furniture besides being cheap, is timeless since it is has a natural look.

The growing demand for these furniture from both individuals and hotels has seen high-end stores add style and grace to even abandoned dhows—churning out timeless designs.

All the wood used to make the furniture is reclaimed.
All the wood used to make the furniture is reclaimed.

However, Nazlin who is an interior designer and whose presidential candidature put her to the limelight, says her furniture was her pet project. She designed every piece of furniture in her house, guiding a carpenter on how to assemble them.

‘‘I designed everything in my house and strategically arranged them to bring out a traditional African look at my home with a touch of modern feel,’’ she says.

Her affection for nature started at a young age.

“For me, the more natural things are, the more beautiful I find them. I didn’t even cut the wood, the more curvaceous the log the more appealing,” she says.

For the sitting room, Nazlin advises that you can add bright-coloured cushions to make the seats comfortable. On the corners, use a trunk of a tree and make holes to make a cupboard.

The tree trunks can also be carved to make beautiful shelves to store books.

For her bedrooms, Nazlin has also used the natural logs to make beds and closets. Outdoors, she has put tree trunk seats with the walls blended with beautiful flowers and trees to create a woodsy feel.

Unique furniture turns your home into a sort of a tourist destination that will make your visitors want to visit more often, she says.