Six years ago, I sold off nearly everything I owned and moved 1,000 miles away from home to an apartment in Chicago, IL. For quite a while, all I had to keep me company was two suitcases of stuff and a blanket. I didn’t even own a bed in those days so, needless to say, I was starting from scratch. While this made settling in time consuming (and by far one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done), I felt so at home in my new apartment that the idea of setting up a new life seemed much less intimidating.
Ashleigh Gersh Miller, founder of clothing company Zuri, and her husband Andrew are two homeowners who are also not unfamiliar with having to figure out how to build a life far from home. Not too long ago they packed up their Brooklyn, NY loft and moved 7,000 miles away to Nairobi, Kenya. At the time, Ashleigh was pregnant with her second child, and navigating a new continent while also trying to quickly set up shop for the family seemed absolutely daunting. Luckily, they came across a rental with so much potential it helped get them excited about their brood’s new chapter.
Situated in a kid-friendly neighborhood, the British-Colonial-style house features many elements that had Ashleigh and Andrew hooked right off the bat: three bedrooms, a home office and a fireplace so grand it begged to be the space’s centerpiece. All of these elements, however, came wrapped in a rustic sensibility that, while cozy, initially left Ashleigh a little stumped. The majority of the couple’s furniture from back in NY was modern and eclectic in nature and didn’t seem like it would sing amongst the Colonial’s exposed beams and throwback touches. While pondering how to make the space work, Ashleigh came across a design trick that she now swears by: the power of color and pattern. By injecting eye-catching pieces with color and pattern, the design disparities have faded away and all that’s left is a cozy nest for the growing family.
It’s been two-and-a-half years since Ashleigh and Andrew first began transforming their rustic rental, and now that the home is fully furnished the pair have been able to finally take some time to enjoy the simpler life they lead in Kenya. The two oftentimes sit in their safari loungers listening to Kenya’s nighttime soundtrack on repeat. As the monkeys howl and the trees rustle in the wind, they chat about how grateful they are for the sense of calm they’ve been given by moving to Africa. “Peace is a real luxury,” they tell us, and we couldn’t agree more. Click through to check out their entire African homestead. Enjoy! —Garrett
Photography by Jennifer Huxta
Image above: The furniture Ashleigh and Andrew shipped over from their Brooklyn, NY apartment was modern and eclectic, a far cry from this rustic rental they snagged in Nairobi, Kenya. Throughout the decorating process, Ashleigh found out just how far colorful and pattern-filled pieces — like the cabinet by Lucas Risé — could go in helping bridge this design gap.