Designing a Family Home in Kigali

Make your house a home that the entire family will enjoy, without sacrificing your personal style! Teri Clar from NAFASI Interiors recently renovated her family's home in Rubengera prior to moving to Kigali. This week, she brings us her tips for designing perfect family spaces in Kigali. 

1. Tell us about yourself. What brought you to Kigali?

I am a young business woman, here in Rwanda for almost a year so far. I lived in Rubengera with my husband and his co-workers on a lovely campus overlooking Lake Kivu. (You can read all about our little house here and how I re-designed it throughout 2017 on my blog!). We now live in Kigali.

2. What is your favorite thing about living in Kigali Rwanda?

It is one of the most consistently beautiful countries I’ve been to. You look in any direction in any town, and your backdrop is always rolling lush green hills. It’s inspiring! The weather is perfect, the sunsets are stunning. Being in an environment like this makes my mood happy each morning!

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3. What are some of your design inspirations in Rwanda?

In my designs here, I am all about simplification and modernization. So instead of hanging a few bowls or Imigongo pieces up on the wall, I use the lines and patterns from them as inspiration instead. I love decorating in splashes of baskets, or pottery, or batik. I think every person’s home should be unique to them and unique from the fallback of traditional decorating. Rather than overpowering a room, I love celebrating the culture in special moments: in styled vignettes, a highlighted centerpiece, or showcased art.

4. What are your favorite local shops, art studios, or galleries?

I love just walking around the town market honestly! There are so many surprises in each little shop! I adore rummaging through all of the kitenge and imagining what to do with all of it. Kimironko has everything! Meeting carpenters has been a new favorite activity of mine too. :) And everyone loves Abraham Konga, am I right?!

5. What has been the most challenging aspect about working in interior design in Rwanda? And the most rewarding?

Coming from DC, I had every interior design, furniture, fabric, and accessories store at my fingertips with online shopping, as well as physical showrooms, being in such a big city. While Kigali doesn’t have nearly as many options for stores and showrooms, the possibilities are still endless with custom carpentry. Now I get to dive more into furniture design than curation of pieces that already exist, and that’s a fun new challenge!

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6. What are a few key tips you have for family friendly design for parents with children?

No white sofas here. Make sure your cushion covers are removable and able to be washed, or spot cleaned. Bolt all of your heavy furniture pieces that could tip to the wall! And also- have fun. If there’s ever a time to use color, its while you live here in this vibrant country! And you know who else loves color? Your kids!

7. Where do families designing homes have to compromise style for practicality, and where should they never compromise?

It is very true that my clients who are young and single have very different priorities in design than my clients who are young families with kids! However, you don’t ever have to compromise style. Ever. Each and every client that I’ve had always has a function they want for their space, keeping it practical for its use, that influences the rest of the design. So whether the function is to host large parties and entertain guests, or the function is to double a living room as a play space, the design always follows. So, you need a gate blocking the stairs? Let’s make it a pretty one! Tell your concerns to your designer and they should be able to make your practical needs stylish no matter what.