Don’t worry, it’s mostly going to be pictures.
So, let's get to it. I have either baby-induced nesting impulses or a particularly egregious TLC home make-over bender in ‘09 to blame for my current obsession in making my house, well..., cute. Or maybe it’s the fact that we’ve moved five times in as many years, and I’m trying to finally get it right. Who knows, but I am putting forth not a little effort to sit on my couch and look around my environs with satisfaction.
But a have a few handicaps:
Other than a brief stint knitting too many illshapen scarves, I don’t have a crafting bone in my body. And there are no craft supply stores to run to anyway. There are no real furniture stores either. What we have is furniture “sections” of Walmart-type superstores chalk full of the kind of furniture favored by the newly rich and casino interior designers – overstuffed velvet couches and glass and gold coffee tables – with the added bonus of being twice as expensive as you’d find in the US.
|You can't see it in the pic, but this little gem has actual rhinestones embedded in the wood veneer. |
And it can be yours for $2000.
|Look closely: behind this ugly but surprisingly functional coffee table (those are stools tucked underneath) is a chaise lounge to match the sofa above, which is obviously crying out for a matching chaise.|
|You're probably wondering, so I'll tell you: it's a chair.|
But they generally still cater to new rich sensibilities and make versions of the above - overstuffed sofas and chairs in wild patterns that make anyone sitting on them look like confused children. I guess when you finally have money to afford a big sofa, you run the opposite direction of the wood bench you sat on at your grandmother's shamba. (You know, the same wood bench that Pier One sells to yuppies wistful for "tribal" craftsmanship. So many ironies...)
Since I couldn't find a sofa that wouldn't swallow me or make me dizzy, I gave a fundi a pic of these Crate and Barrel sofa and chairs:
I bought some material and he made me these For $200.
|Not a bad likeness for 1/10 of the cost!|
I showed another fundi this picture of a canopy bed:
And he made me this. It’s solid wood and custom made and I paid $120.
|I know the mozzy net should technically be haning from the frame. I'll ask you not to mention it.|
For another $70, he made me this:
|The sides on this toddler bed actually go up and down.|
|Our fundi, realizing this was for our kid's room, asked what color he should paint it. |
I hadn't even thought about painting it, but it ended up looking great. Cost us $18
|I basically just described a toy chest (no picture, just hand motions) and got this awesomeness. The metal was welded by one fundi and another wove the wicker. We got the baskets at a village market for $1 each.|
And all of the above was made in workshops that look like this:
|This is the where we bought the wicker furniture|
|Fundi workshop that made all three beds|
All of which makes me feel a bit ridiculous about my obsession to cute-ify the house. At the same time, I'm happy to throw these talented and hardworking men all the business I can, even at a Mzungu premium.