I grew up in Nairobi West, in a three-bedroom maisonette that had a relatively large compound that wrapped around the house, with grass; a compound big enough for us to do cartwheels and run around in.
I’m from a big family, so we were used to sharing rooms and fighting for stuff, and it was cool. But I thought living in an apartment and having my own room would be even cooler, especially if I got to call it “apartment” and not “flat”.
To my young mind, a flat was what you had in my hood, or Madaraka or Lang’ata. But an apartment? An apartment was what you had in Lavington and Kileleshwa – the places I rarely visited. In fact, for the longest time, I didn’t even know the difference between the two, didn’t know where one ended and the other began, and was, quite frankly, a little intimidated by that side of the city: from the City Mortuary roundabout to Rusinga School, which I only saw on my way to Kawangware to visit my cucu.
I remember driving down Dennis Pritt Road on my way to school, both sides of the road lined with beautiful purple flowers during jacaranda season, and wondering whether I would ever live in such a neighbourhood.
It’s funny how life goes. Now I live in one of those areas I grew up wanting to live in, in an apartment. It’s similar to those I used to admire while seated in the back of my dad’s car and later, while driving my own little car (and still living with my parents). I got what I wanted, but I really wish we had grass.
Now we spend Sundays looking for baby friendly places – grass not optional – so that Gong can run around and know what it feels like not to play on cabro, because whoever developed our place didn’t think grass would be important.
I’m not complaining though, I’m determined to make our home as cozy as I can, and to create great memories for Gong in that grassless space. Just like I have such great memories of living in Nairobi West (minus those rickety-ass No.14 matatus), I want her to remember the warmth of our home, the laughter, family time, and little things like running down the corridor playing hide and seek, especially when I’m putting this much effort into making it look nice.
Our corridor is dark. It’s dark during the day, dark at night, dark when the sun is killing all life in Nairobi, and dark in July, when the sun refuses to shine for us.
Like all smart people trying to bring some light into the room, I chose to paint it black and light grey. I even painted the ceiling black, trying to be “artistic”. It felt like walking in one of KENHA’s tunnels, so I gave in to the standard brilliant white matte (also known as ceiling white).
To get some actual light in there, since we were tired of having to either navigate that narrow space using echolocation (like bats) or switching on the fluorescent tube light that took longer to come on than it did walking the length of the corridor, I installed this beautiful dark grey Sputnik chandelier. I got it from Glow Lighting on sale, and had my electrician do some modification on it since it was missing an arm when I bought it, and I only found out two months later, when we took it out of the box to install it. But it turned out fine, I mean, look at it.
I’m a big fan of decorating your home with photos to add a personal touch to your space, even if it’s rented, so I printed out some photos from my phone into Polaroids, got them mounted onto custom-size frames, and installed them down the corridor.
For the longest time that’s all we had on the corridor: the chandelier and photos, because I couldn’t find a runner I liked at the price my bank account agreed with. Then I came across these gorgeous black and white tribal rugs from Smart Lady Home on Instagram, and I thought my life would change. Beautiful, and affordable at 1500 bob a pop. If I couldn’t get a long runner, I would improvise and create my own by laying three short ones back to back. I’m just your average genius.
I gave them a test run and fell in love. My home was going to be featured in Architectural Digest just because of these babies. Then I decided to wash them, without asking for or researching care instructions, and I ruined them. My corridor looked good for the 30 minutes the rugs were there though.
Luckily, I was able to replace them with this grey and white version. The texture, geometric pattern and tassels had me sold. Shout out to Diana (the babe with the good taste who owns Smart Lady Home) for understanding, forgiving my stupidity and being kind enough to let me exchange them! I held onto them for a few months before laying them out though, because I was scared of ruining them.
Since they don’t come with rubber backing I needed to give them a little extra grip before I could be fully comfortable having them on the corridor, because toddlers run everywhere, and I don’t like hospitals. I used a hot glue gun to create these treads. It works, but I’m paranoid because of my child so I’d still like to have some extra grip.
Then I saw these black and white striped rugs and my heart was full. I was happy with what we had, but my monochrome-obsessed heart wouldn’t let them go, and Diana was kind enough to send over two pieces so we could play around with corridor styling options.
I love that they come with the rubber backing so Gong can run around and play on them freely.
Now because more is more, I thought: why not try and layer the grey woven rugs over the striped ones, which feel velvety smooth underfoot, because it would be the perfect way to play with prints, layers AND get to see all the rugs at the same time? It’s sort of like wearing all your favourite jewellery at once, which I do.
I’m in love with all the looks, but I think the layered one might be my favourite (for now), because I get everything I like in one look: black, white and grey, stripes and geometric shapes, and tassels. I could never say no to tassels.
Which is your fave? How have you styled your corridor?
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To beautiful spaces! And dreams coming true.