This Music Artist’s 500-Square-Foot Kampala Rental Is Colorful and Cozy
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Name: Rachel Kiwanuka, ginger cat named Rocky
Location: Kampala, Uganda
Size: 500 square feet
Type of Home: Apartment
Years lived in: 2 years, renting
When Ugandan-American music artist, media personality, and content creator Rachel Kiwanuka, aka Rachel K, moved to Uganda from the states three years ago, she wanted to find a small place to live that was close to her mother’s house and to Kampala’s city center. “I was on a hunt for the perfect place that was secure in safety and that wasn’t too big but enough for me,” describes Rachel. “After about two tours, I landed this super cute tiny apartment and it was a YES for me. When I first took a tour of the place I knew immediately this was the spot for me. There is a beautiful garden surrounding the apartments, it has gated security, and is a 10-minute drive to restaurants and shopping centers. There are four apartments all together and I was so lucky and blessed to take the last one!”
Rachel, who also does social media for her mother’s organization called Women at Work International based in Uganda, also got lucky that the rental came already painted in colors (light peach and pink colors) she loved. There were other benefits to this place, too. “My apartment came with a built-in water heater; it’s not easy to find water heaters already in apartments here in Uganda, so that was something that I really liked and appreciated,” she explains. “The kitchen is very simple. I love the glass detail on the cabinet door and all the extra cabinet spaces. Extra space is always a good thing.” And though the place is lacking in windows, she reports that the large main doorway lets in enough natural light.
“As a musician, most of my time spent at my place is me either writing new music or jamming on my guitar,” Rachel admits. “I love candles so I light them all the time to stir up a cozy feel. I also spend time reading, watching series, and hanging with my ginger cat, Rocky.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I would say my style is mash-up of Africa meets artistic decor with a coffee house vibe. All of this includes vibrant colors and wall art with a musical touch. I don’t really like to see too much empty wall space, so I cover by putting up unique wall decor, all from talented Ugandan creative artists.
Inspiration: Vibrant Colors, Instagram, Africa, Nature, Boho
Favorite Element: My built-in book shelf, blue couch, and colorful wall tapestry are my favorite elements at my place. The book shelf was one of the things I was so happy to see my place have because 1. I love books and 2. It’s a great storage space to place the things I need to put there. I have my sunglasses collection on the shelf as well as my books, laptop, and extra towels and bed sheets. I have a royal blue couch with cute pillows that help add an edge. My couch is really my statement piece in my living room. My living room is pretty small, so I can fit like one piece of furniture, along with my wooden chair. My wall tapestry that I folded and use as a floor rug really helped bring my place together. It was sent to me from my home back in the states, so it was nice to have a little piece of home here with me in Uganda.
Biggest Challenge: There were a few challenges that I faced, like my place didn’t come with a stove or fridge. Most apartments or tiny homes in Uganda don’t come with a stove or a fridge. So basically it’s up to you to shop around and buy if you need them. However, my kitchen is pretty small for a full stove or fridge, so I decided to just buy a hot plate and microwave in one that does a good job with cooking. I don’t have a fridge, and I feel like since it’s just me I don’t really need one at the moment. I’m pretty much a “I eat my food and drink my drink right there and then” kind of person.
Proudest DIY: Not too much of DIY [in here], but more recreating an empty object into something else, kinda thing. For example, my empty candle glass, I made it into a candy jar. My woven basket, I made it into a cute book holder. Little things like that make me feel like I have really created something cool.
Biggest Indulgence: I would say that it was my couch. It took me such a long time to find one that I really liked. A royal blue two-seater was the mission and the cost was definitely worth it. I got a good deal from one of the furniture shops here in town.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I have these cool wooden pallets that I use for placing things on like little decor and other items. The wooden pallets add a unique spin to my place that I really love.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I really love my lion wall art. It’s the first wall art that I actually bought. I love how it adds to the African touch that my home has. I also love my full length mirror. It’s detailed with hand painted flowers around the border; it’s really pretty and a great decor addition to my home.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I love empty wall space, because that gives me the opportunity to add some cool pieces and be creative. If you don’t know what to do with your walls, add some wall decoration, like art that you love and what represents you. It’s okay to start small here and there until you like what you see. Also anything that you have that’s empty, like a soda glass bottle or empty jar, they can be used as other things like a holder for jewelry, candy, or anything actually. Your creative mind will just start to flow.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Don’t think that you can’t work with small spaces. You really can and you may find that it’s easier for you to decorate and add some character without wondering how to fill up a big space. It’s also a good way to introduce your creative side because you have little to work with, without pressure. As long as you have your vision, you will create the space you love and everything will start falling into place. It’s a process, don’t rush.
Thanks Rachel K!
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
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