Furnishing Your Home in Kampala

Wasanii

It’s the first thing on your mind when you land in Kampala. Unfortunately, it’s also the very thing that can cause you to lose your mind as you begin to navigate this foreign city and take a wild guess at where to find this or that.

As an expat myself, I know what it’s like for your time in Kampala to feel relatively brief. Most of us are on contracts or here for short-term projects and sometimes it’s impossible to ignore that feeling that it’s all very temporary. Allow me to pass on a piece of advice that a dear friend and fellow expat once shared with me: Whether you’re here for a one-year contract or staying indefinitely, invest and do whatever it takes to truly create your home.

As you set off to furnish your new home, simplify by first deciding between the following categories: Go local, go commercial, or go custom. That’s the easiest way to divide and conquer and in this article I’ll set you off to a good start for each path.

Go Local

Who doesn’t love buying a hand-woven laundry basket on the side of the road?! That’s convenience at its finest. It’s like going on a furniture safari in your car and you just pull over when you see something cool! I like to call the carpenter section of Ggaba Road, “Kampala’s Bed, Bath, and Beyond.”  Those men can build you anything! On any given day, you can expect to find bed frames, dressers, desks, couches, chairs, baskets, and more.

Ggaba Road

You won’t be able to beat their prices and going the “local” route is certainly the cheapest, most efficient way to purchase a bunch of furniture at once. It’s also good to note that bargaining is encouraged and, especially if you’re buying several pieces of furniture, be bold at suggesting a much lower price. The best place to find the most concentrated area of carpenters is on Ggaba Road in Nsambya, near the US Embassy.

Go Commercial

This second option is to go the commercial route. Large shopping mall chains like Game out of South Africa and Nakumatt from Kenya are perfect for those of you who just want to take the simple and mainstream route but desire a step up in quality. Keep in mind that these chain stores carry imported items, so the prices will significantly increase from the friendly roadside carpenters.

Game offers a variety of furniture staples like beds, couch sets, entertainment centers, office desks and chairs, and kitchen tables.  In addition to indoor furniture, they also carry an extensive selection of outdoor and patio items: grills, table sets with umbrellas, and lawn chairs. In a tropical city like Kampala, we spend a lot of time outdoors so furnishing your patio is almost as important as furnishing the inside!

Game carries both foam and spring mattresses in all sizes with duvets, quilts, and linens sets to go with it. Rugs, mirrors, clocks, and shelving are a few of the décor items you can expect to find.  You can also buy bath towels and bath mats here as well as closet organization items. Flashback to when I paid $23 for a bath mat! You’ll find those random items that seem extremely pricey but keep your head up and keep going.

Nakumatt Oasis

Nakumatt stores, particularly the large location at Oasis Mall, are another great commercial option for home shopping. They also carry a selection of office furniture, kitchen table sets, coffee tables, beds, and couch sets – specifically several leather sets that look nice but are very pricey. Their selection is quite similar to Game except that they offer a small lighting section and fabric center for making custom curtains.

Game

Hours: 9am-8pm, Wed 9:30am-8:00pm, Sunday 10am-6pm
Address: Lugogo Shopping Mall, Jinja Road, Kampala
Phone: +256-312-350400
Website: http://www.game.co.za

Nakumatt Oasis

Hours: Daily, 24/7
Address: Oasis Mall, Yousef Lule Rd, Kampala
Phone: +256-414-348040
Website: http://www.nakumatt.net/

Go Custom

The final option for decorating your home is to go custom. With a plethora of talented local and expat carpenters in town, they can really make your designs come to life! This path is particularly a good idea if your contract offers a shipping container upon completion because… trust me… you’re going to want to take this stuff home with you. Though there are several good options in town, two of my favorite finds are Kyaninga Homes and Wasanii Living.

Kyaninga

Kyaninga Homes is the outlet for talented craftsman Steve Williams from the UK. It’s located in Nakasero next to Yujo Japanese restaurant and has absolutely stunning wooden and woven furniture from banana fibers. Kyaninga Homes works in three primary areas: interior, outdoor, and kids furniture. You can even hire their team to build you a log home or add on an additional feature to your existing place. Everything about their brand portrays luxury, quality, and unique design!

Next up, another disgustingly cool home store: Wasanni Living. It’s also expat-owned by Romina Wilke Kohler and Iva Dubajic whose concept for the shop is to bring a more fresh, modern edge to the interior design community in Kampala. Well, they’re doing something right because I wanted every single item in the store!

I’ll discuss their décor items in my follow-up article, “Decorating Your Home in Kampala,” but for their furniture selection they have both imported items as well as other pieces made in Kampala through a partnership with local construction giant, ROKO. These tables and custom kitchen pieces were incredibly well made and unlike anything I’ve seen around town!

Hopefully this article has you started on the right foot so now it’s time to shop! Don’t be afraid to pull from all categories. My home brags of some Ggaba road finds but also has the unique, custom pieces so remember that it’s all about balance and budget!

Kyaninga Homes

Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Closed Sunday
Address: Plot 4, Kyadondo Road, Nakasero
Phone: +256-793-419315 / +256-776-419315
Email: info@kyaningahomes.com
Website: http://www.kyaningahomes.com
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kyaninga-Lodge/463315660347364

Wasanii Living

Hours: Mon-Sat. 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Address: 1515 Kira Road, Ntinda, Kampala
Phone: +256-312-516677
Email: info@wasanii.ug
Website: www.wasanii.ug
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wasaniiliving/info

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About Lauren McBride

Hey, I’m Lauren. I’m what you’d call an “expat by marriage.” When my husband and I stepped off the plane in Entebbe in June 2012, I had no idea what I was in for: the breezy traffic on the open road, enjoyable boda rides through the heart of town, or the gentle, lingering smell of exhaust blowing in my face. I continue to be amazed by the strong community in Kampala, the arts, the delicious food, and the fun hangs around this town. I’m committed to sharing the very best of Kampala with you through this website. Contact me anytime with your ideas, feedback, or jokes at lauren@livinginkampala.com.