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Home / Lady Speak

Noni Wanyee: A day in the life of an interior architect

 Noni Wanyee is an interior architect and founder of Revodesign Studios (Courtesy)

My day usually starts at 3am and does not end until 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening.

As an interior architect, I deal with the skeleton of a building – I can move walls within the interior of a building, for instance – whereas an interior designer focuses on the decoration, but the two go hand in hand.

On a normal day, I visit job sites, supervise drawings with my team and communicate with clients and manufacturers. When I get home, I work on drawings.

My children are grown and have moved out so I can work round the clock.

Design for me does not feel like work, and it is always exciting to see a project come to life. When in it, I only notice that time has passed when my fingers or back start to ache. I always tell my children to do something they love, so they won’t get tired of it.

I started Revodesign Studios in 2000 while I was still living in California. Starting my own company was an easy way to bring up my children because then I could control my time. I would spend about four hours going to and from work in a day, and I still had to perform my home duties as well as work duties. That was hectic.

I decided to move back to Kenya after my father passed away in 2007. Coming home for the funeral, I kept wondering why I couldn’t do what I was doing in the US here in Kenya. It felt like I was missing something.

Before coming back home for good, I jotted down the things I needed to accomplish. First, I needed my children to grow a little. I did not want to suddenly uproot them. I started speaking with them about the idea of moving home and once I saw they were getting comfortable with it, I started applying to different schools to have them enrolled.

Meanwhile, because of growing competition in the interior design field (what I had initially studied), I went back to school for a Degree in Interior Architecture to enhance my career. But unless I had my degree and a little bit of experience in doing interior architecture, I felt it was immature to come back. When I accomplished all these things, I finally felt ready and moved back to Kenya in 2012.

Twenty-one years of running a business have taught me the importance of keeping up with local and international trends, and the importance of constant education.

I have been doing this for a long time and I have never stopped learning. I am also not shy to say I do not know – that is how I learn. But it is also tough. You have to motivate yourself to keep moving forward, one step at a time. And it is your step.

I have learnt that the one permanent employee is you. You do not start a business and then not show up. But, I protect myself from burnout by having a balance. My son has influenced me to start working out, which I do in the morning. In the evenings, I enjoy cooking. Cooking for me is like design, and I enjoy the creativity behind it. It also feeds my interest in always wanting to learn something new.

I am a golfer, and I have found that being in a totally different environment, doing things unrelated to work in a relaxed setting rejuvenates me. That is what golfing does for me. I also love travel. Having lived in the US for 26 years, I travelled all over the states. I want to continue with that practice and explore Africa.

Self-care to me means loving yourself first. I think it would be hard to love others if you do not love yourself. And if you love yourself then you are able to take care of your body, treat it with utmost care.

That means whatever you eat is clean and your environment is clean as well. Then you are able to focus on the people around you. Self-care also means being able to say no when necessary. I am still learning how to say no.

Something that is helping is when an invitation comes up, I first say, “Let me think about it.” Then I check my calendar and finances and even my enthusiasm for wanting to attend the event in question; these act as my guide.

I just finished reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. The title can mislead one to think that it is about not caring for anything at all. But the author has great insights on thinking about what is important and how to say no to what is not important. I have learnt that if you do not put yourself first, others will schedule you and you will be miserable.

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