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Africanize your living room with local accessories

By Olive Eyotaru

A fairly africanised living room

The living room or eddiro in many Bantu languages is a place that many home owners never think of redesigning. The fact is many people never think of changing the sofa they have had for years or replace that tattered carpet that has graced your living room since then.

Some people even say that since the living room is a high traffic area where people converge to talk, watch television and relax; there is need to give it a new aura that will make it a favorite and comfortable room for its occupants and visitors.

But the living room is the centre of the home. It is the place every visitor bases on to judge the home’s beauty and level of organization of the home occupants.

This means you need to get home accessories that will make your home get that preferred look that make a home an enjoyable place. And you need to be creative about which accessories you get for your living room and where and how you place them where.

You might even get help of an interior designer to help you reorganize your living room according to your preferred but matching choice of style. From the type and colour of furniture, carpet to all other accessories for the inside of a house, the interior designer can help you pick appropriate items, which can be blended with what is available in order to make your living room create a simple but lasting impression.

Because of going by the norm, many people are known to prefer European style settings in their living rooms to what can be termed as an Africanized sitting area. From leather sofa sets to glass coffee tables, there is no blend with our roots, if I may say. Yet, one can enhance the appearance of their living rooms by entirely changing the whole African aspect from the mythical dull and dead one into a more exciting and captivating place.

Abba Mulindwa, the Managing Director of Hope Creations, an interior designing and events management company says that using African crafts to enhance one’s home does not need any expertise.

“One only needs to have a sense of creativity in order to achieve an African look in the home,” Mulindwa says. To achieve that distinct African theme, there should be careful consideration on the types of accessories to purchase. This will determine what your house will really look like and the message you are bound to send to your visitors.

Mulindwa says that one of the cardinal rules of interior designing is to keep it simple but creative. We list below the major areas which you can overhaul.

Furniture

living room chairs made by local crafsmen

Size determines how much furniture can be placed in the room. It is advisable to acquire furniture that leaves enough space for movement in the room. It is now a common sight to find locally made chairs at the roadsides on major highways and suburbs. There are several craft workshops on Entebbe road, Nsambya, Kabalagala and Bwaise from where you can purchase such chairs. These chairs are usually made from reeds and knitted to make the body of the seats. Mulindwa says that they are strong and last long. But they are easily weakened by water, which is why you should keep them away from water.

These chairs usually come with a table to complete the set. These tables are also made out of reeds and are accentuated with straws on top.

Chairs carved out of wood like Eucalyptus and Mahogany trees are another option to the types of chairs to pick from if you are thinking of making your living room African. Such chairs are durable given the nature of the wood used. Cushions can be added onto the seats to make them more comfortable.

According to Joshua Walakira, a craftsman in Namasuba, chairs designed out of wood give one’s house a distinct African look. The fact that they are made out of locally produced products makes them easier to maintain and replace. One is also able to choose the cloths used to dress the cushions. A set of these chairs goes for about 400, 000/ shillings at Meso Wood Carvers on Nsambya road.

Stands/ shelves

The wood shelves that many people are used to in their homes can be substituted with the locally crafted ones made out of reeds. The reed shelf is useful for keeping books, compact disc (CD) casings and newspapers. The shelves also help to reduce clutter around the living room. Craft accessories like shells, dried tree cones, among others can be placed on top of the shelf to add beauty.

A shelf made out of reeds

Natasha Mwanika, an interior designer says that a lot of people want to have everything in a space when they do not necessarily have to have them.

Accessorizing the African look in your living room comes in different styles through the use of crafts. Mulindwa says that the best accessories are the ones that represent the history of African heritage and if you are committed to maintaining the African look, this is the time for to buy and put some in your living room.

He recommends the use of pots, calabashes and dry carnations as another form of adding décor to the living room. Simple as they seem, African crafts are a long lasting spice to the room if well handled and taken care of.

Floor covering

Veer off from the common woolen and plastic carpets by using the traditional sisal mats or animal skin rugs. They have an advantage over woolen carpets due to their affordability and easy maintenance.

Mulindwa advises that to keep the African theme simple, a small floor covering at the centre of the living room is suitable. A good mat goes for 15,000/- and above whereas the animal skin rugs go for above 20,000/ in craft shops.

Art

It is possible to accessorize your living room with different kinds of art paintings. From oil paintings to batik designs, the choice is all yours.

Paintings with African art, Mulindwa says, depict the true sense of history and culture in our society.  It also maintains the rich, traditional values that our forefathers would have wanted us to maintain. They can be hung on the walls or above the curtain boxes.

Paintings at art galleries like Nommo or Okapi go for above 100,000/- shillings. One can get cheaper pieces from art students, especially in universities between 30,000/ and 100,000/ shillings. Add a few sculptures to your art collection as well and you have a dream living room. They cost 20,000/ shillings and above at craft shops.

A curtain made from Ugandan textiles

Curtains

Mulindwa advises anyone planning to buy curtains with an African-theme to purchase from shops that deal in African textiles to get his/her preferred materials. Come up with your own design and take to a trusted local tailor to put your designs right.

It is better to buy these materials from shops dealing in African textiles. A meter goes for about 5,000/= shillings. Get the appropriate measurements of your windows before making the curtains to ensure that you get the right fitting size.

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