When Ms Lydia Murage was transferred from her workplace in Meru to Molo by her employer, her immediate concern was accommodation.
She needed to figure out where she would quickly rent a house, and how big or small the house would be was the least of her concerns.
“I wanted a house that would be pocket-friendly while at the same time keeping in tandem with my social status. It also had to be near my workplace, as I didn’t own a car, yet punctuality is always a vital quality in the banking sector, where I work,” she says.
Ms Murage was lucky to find and settle in one of the best one bedroom houses in the area, which accommodated all her belongings at that time.
Fast-forward a few months later, she started acquiring more clothes and more household items. It is at this point that she started accumulating clutter, space shrinking with each item purchased.
Unfortunately for her, Molo is far from her childhood home, so she couldn’t hand down the no-longer-needed items to relatives and friends.
“When my daughter was born, I could no longer stand my house, because there were now extra items in it to cater for the baby,” she says, adding that unfortunately, she is yet to move out because it is difficult to find another house that is more spacious in the area.
Mr Simon Githinji, a medical laboratory expert, found himself in a cluttered situation when he got a job at Karatina General Hospital.
“When I got the job, I moved to Karatina alone, but when my girlfriend joined me later on, the house suddenly looked so small in terms of space,” he says.
The two families are experiencing nothing new, says Mr Justus Omari, an interior design expert with Nyash Interiors; this being a common problem for many Kenyan families.
“The problem of lack of space in your living abode is nothing new. At least seven out of 10 Kenyans live in constrained spaces, but they can get creative with what is available to ‘enlarge’ the same,” Mr Omari explains.
The first important step, says Ms Becky Siwa, also an interior designer, is to identify what is eating up the space and where.
If it is in the bedroom, for example, the probable cause of clutter will be additional clothing you have acquired or lack of sufficient cabinets and hanging lines to hold them.
In the kitchen, on the other hand, new utensils or bulky food items may make your kitchen look cluttered.
The sitting area, Mr Omari says, is the section of the house that is likely to get cluttered fast, because of the activities that take place around it.
“The sitting room is the face of the house — visitors come to the living room not the kitchen. They are entertained in the living room, not the bedroom — and thus people tend to acquire furniture and other living room items more frequently, sometimes without disposing of the older ones,” he observes.
Mr Joshua Ireri of Design Fusions says that one should consider their outdoors as a possible expansion of their indoors, if such space is available.
He notes that while most people may ignore the outside space, by merging it with your indoors, you get extra space that you had probably never thought existed.
Besides, he adds, it enhances the appearance of your living room by making it look more spacious.
“Although you can extend the indoors to the outside from any part of the house, the focal point is usually the living room,” Mr Ireri notes, suggesting sliding door as a simple way to achieve more space.
Glass, he says, is the best option for the folding doors, as it brings about transparency. “You also need to match both spaces so that the outdoor looks like your indoors,” he says, explaining that using the same flooring is important so that both the outdoor and indoor spaces match.
Mr Omari adds: “If you have tiles on the floor inside the house, the floor on the outside should have similar tiles, same case with carpets.”
The flooring, he adds, should also be on the same level in order to create a seamless extension to the outside.
Garden furniture, Ms Siwa explains, is another creative way of extending your living to the outside.
Often, she adds, the outside has a protruding ceiling, say 1.5 metres, that covers the porch or veranda. “By arranging furniture — which are identical to the one in the living room — in this space, you achieve a seamless arrangement that merges the living room with the outside,” she says.
Of importance, the decor expert adds, is that the furniture should be placed in such a way that the arrangement in the living room extends to the garden furniture on the other side of the glass door.
This, she explains, makes the two sets of furniture appear unified, and in the process makes the living room appear more spacious.
In the cluttered bedroom and kitchen, the decor experts concur that using vertical spaces would be an agreeable way of decluttering your rooms.
“In the kitchen, for example, you can have vertical cabinets mounted on the walls to be used for storage of food items and utensils. Holders can be pinned on the wall where knives and spoons can be hung. This will free up space in your cupboard or the kitchen table,” says Ms Siwa.
The space under the sink, she adds, is another ideal storage spot where you can keep items that cannot be damaged by water.
Mr Ireri advises installing storage cabinets in the bedrooms, where you can comfortably store your clothes and bed linen.
“Colour-coded boxes are also a great way of decluttering your bedroom, and shoe racks will also go a long way in saving floor space,” Ms Siwa concludes.