When working with Suzanne Kasler on the interiors of the house I was building, I always looked forward to the meetings in her office as it was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the inner workings of a busy design firm. Whether it was an inspiration board pinned with fabric samples, a room full of lighting, accessories and pillows ready to be taken to an install, or a gorgeous selection of rugs laid out on the floor waiting for client approval, there was always something interesting and beautiful to look at. Suzanne knew that I was fascinated with what was going on in the design world, and would sometimes talk about some of the highlights of her current projects, as well as the current trends in the world of design as a whole.
At the time, there was one project in particular that Suzanne was very enthusiastic about - the interior design for a compound of four thatched roof cottages on the grounds of the Sirikoi game lodge in Kenya. She said it was one of the most unique projects she had ever worked on, and she came back from her trips to Kenya (for both the design process and eventually the installation of the design) full of excitement, and with many interesting stories to tell. I remember meeting at her office the week before she was heading to Kenya for the install, and her staff was keeping close track of the container that was being shipped from Atlanta over to Africa.
When House Beautiful contacted me this week to see whether I would be interested in an exclusive sneak peek of the feature on the Suzanne Kasler Kenya project (not yet published – it is in the new October 2012 issue, out on newsstands next week), I jumped at the chance. And believe me, it is truly an amazing feature – like nothing I have ever seen, and yet with many of the signature Suzanne Kasler touches that are the hallmark of her style. The range of her work continues to inspire me – she is always exceptionally in tune with the homeowners, the architecture, and the way in which her clients live in their homes. Perhaps this is why she is hired to create so many beautiful and diverse interiors.
A view of the palm thatched cottages on the grounds of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya (architecture by Barnaby Ghaui). The interiors are completely open to the exterior, creating both amazing opportunities for design as well as unique design challenges. I wonder if the Kenyan wildlife ever stroll into the house? Photos used with permission from House Beautiful (photo credit Thibault Jeanson).
HB’s interview style format is particularly conducive to telling the story of this project, as there is so much unique and personal about the process of designing this incredible space. Both Suzanne and the homeowner describe the process to design, build, and decorate this one of a kind sanctuary on the other side of the world, with both furniture purchased in Atlanta and accessories, art and objects crafted in Africa that reflect the unique artistry of the area.
The article contains many pictures of the interiors, including an airy living room defined by the architectural structure of the thatched cottage. Although the architecture and environment are as unique as any I have seen in a shelter magazine, there are many familiar Suzanne Kasler touches throughout the room. Note the matched Verellen sofas flanking the fireplace – a classic arrangement often favored by Suzanne (she has the same sofas in her own family room in Atlanta). Also striking is the orange banding trimmed with nail heads at the base of the chair, which picks up on the orange used to to highlight the interior of the fireplace. Suzanne layers in a variety of textures and fabrics, unique and one of a kind accessories (many of which were made by local artisans), and always plenty of seating. Her careful space planning encourages comfortable use of the environments she creates, and lend themselves well to opportunities for conversation in both large and small groups.
A highlight for me – the incredible ostrich egg chandeliers made by Kenya resident Sue Fusco, featured in every cottage. Suzanne notes that “they give off a warm, low light. It’s like you are looking up at the stars”.
I’m also partial to these charming black intaglios that are hung at the roofline in several of the cottages.
The October issue of House Beautiful hits the newsstands early next week (just after Labor Day) – if you are not already a subscriber, I highly recommend seeking out this issue. It features homes of Americans abroad, and has projects from around the globe, and of course includes this incredible Kenya retreat. I have not seen any other features from this issue, so I will definitely be stalking my mailbox waiting for my own copy to arrive in the mail. I can’t wait!
What do you think about this Kenya retreat? Have you ever been to Kenya? I am definitely adding it to my ‘bucket list’ of trips.
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