Quick! Pick one: bush safari or beach holiday? I’ve always been more of a beach girl. I love everything about the ocean: from calming ripples to crashing waves, the wonder of its depths and its endless horizons; the promise of sunrise, the serenity of its sunsets, and the way the moonlight dances over its dark waters on a clear night.

But while I wouldn’t ordinarily pick the bush over the ocean, I’m not completely averse to a comfortable bush tour, where I’m mostly protected from insects and the elements, have access to hot water on demand (two showers a day are mandatory for me), don’t have to catch or cook my own food and can forget I’m in the middle of nowhere once I sink into my bed, which must be on an actual man-made floor, with white cotton sheets and surrounded by walls or a very, very sturdy tent – not the kind that sways in the wind. See? I can do bush!

So when a client called me up and asked me whether I could pull off a safari-inspired living room update I was like hell yeah! How hard could it be to put together something with my favourite looks and textures? I’m talking leather, a bit of animal print, sisal/jute. The kind of thing you might find if you walked into the lounge/reception of a higher end camp.

The truth is: I had no idea what I was doing. I was winging it-winging it, trying to look like I knew how to do this on a somewhat tight budget and realising that accomplishing the aesthetic she wanted without going into rustic safari territory was going to be a little difficult. At least I wasn’t starting from scratch, because she already had this beautiful navy blue on her walls (Duracoat, Lights Off, 3001C), which gave me a good foundation to build from.

The plan was to reupholster the grey seats, but the cost was way above the budget so we only fixed the leather accent seats, which her kid had managed to rip while playing.

Once that was done we focused on buying accessories. This is usually the fun part, but the number of calculations I had to do to make it work gave me nightmares for a week. But it all worked out eventually so it was worth it, right? Here’s a round-up of my favourite moments.


Navy blue paint colour / Duracoat, Lights Off, 3001C

Light grey paint colour / Crown Paints, Soot, 22B15

Entryway bench / Kashmir Arts, Sarit Centre

Entryway art / Client’s own

Leather pillow cover + insert on bench / Artis Living

Light fixtures / Meydan Lightings

Sofa + leather accent chairs / Client’s own

Leather accent chair reupholstery / Santana Africa

Linen + faux leather pillow covers / Artis Living

White linen curtains and tiebacks / Client’s own

Coffee table + dhurrie / Odds & Ends

Floating shelf / Daniel, +254 723 465263

Side table between leather chairs, white ceramic vase, black sea urchin, pillar candle holders / Ashley Furniture Kenya

Tic-Tac-Toe set, black vases, lady statue, black candle holders, candles, grey throw blanket / Mr. Price Home

Brass model plane / Home Box

Gold decorative item on magazines + zebra print pillow cover / Décor Gallery

Leather magazine rack / Whitebull KE

Vintage-inspired clock / Client’s own

Rubber plant + pot / Dashing Spaces

Basket with lid / Erika’s Antique

Other baskets / Client’s own

I can’t say this was the easiest project I ever worked on, but it was definitely one of the more satisfying ones. Stay tuned for part two of this, where I’ll share the little changes we made to the client’s dining area to make it fresh – without breaking bank.

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The Cultured Cow


  • September 15, 2021

    Sue Kamau

    This is really beautiful.

  • September 15, 2021


    My fav! Always so generous with her plugs. I live and breath home decor so your blog is always a great way to boost my mood!

  • September 16, 2021

    Emma Nudi

    You create magic Shiru! Absolutely beautiful.

  • September 19, 2021

    Wendy Matheka

    I’m OBSESSED! You don’t miss. Ever.

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