Mutamuliza reveals her interior design secrets and more

Her house is a blend of African tradition and modernity. And going by its exotic and artistic look, you would be forgiven for thinking she spent millions on expert interior designers.  
A curtain made out of Afarican print fabric by Mutamuliza. Saturday Times/Ivan Ngoboka
A curtain made out of Afarican print fabric by Mutamuliza. Saturday Times/Ivan Ngoboka

Her house is a blend of African tradition and modernity. And going by its exotic and artistic look, you would be forgiven for thinking she spent millions on expert interior designers.  

HER MOTHER being a seamstress, she obviously always found herself helping with the tailoring and knitting. And being the eldest in a family of five children, the largest chunk of house chores naturally fell to her – sweeping, mopping, arranging items in the house, you name it. However, barely did she know that this was gradually grooming her into a fine future fashion and interior designer. 

Alyce Mutamuliza, 41, and a mother of four, didn’t spend a penny going to a school of design, but the artistry and sophistication exhibited in some of her creations would make it hard for one to believe that she is merely self-taught and talented. 

Her house is an average-sized 3-bedroomed block, entirely covered from top to bottom by creeping plants. The veranda is surrounded by numerous flower pots.  Inside the house, the living area is neatly spread with blue painted wooden medieval chairs and customized old sit-back wooden chairs neatly fitted with artistic home-tailored cushions.  

 The marble tiled floor in the living room is occupied with stick-woven couches, a small bookshelf made out of banana fibre and a reading lamp in one corner. An assortment of art pieces, small traditional jugs, pots and baskets hang on the orange painted wall. The window curtains are made out of African print fabric. The silvery ceiling is attached with a chandelier made out of wrought iron and recycled paper.

In brief, the appearance of the  house is a blend of African tradition and modernity. And going by its exotic and artistic look, you would be forgiven for thinking she spent millions hiring expert interior designers.

“My artistic ability is to make artists do things the way I want them. I share my imagination and thoughts with them, then after thorough panel-beating, we are able to pull off the creation at the end of the day,” she reveals.

Alyce is the kind that doesn’t let anything go to waste. She is the type that is in love with medieval and vintage stuff, and she likes to collect old things, refurbish and then reuse them. For example, once in a while she visits supermarkets and picks dumped Styrofoam, which she uses to make bean bag sofas, and old paint cans, which she recycles as flower pots. Alyce seems to derive joy from making old places and things look new. She is also a space management expert. No matter how small the room is, every item therein always gets a fitting placement.

Her achievements in this career have earned her a considerable amount of public recognition. For instance, she has been invited more than once to give motivational and career talks at FAWE Girls’ School, Akillah Institute for Women and the School of Finance and Banking among others.

She has also earned her place in society as a high profile events manager.  For example last month, she was hired as a planner and decorator for the prime minister’s son’s wedding that attracted  over 2000 guests.

 The financial gain from her enterprise has also enabled her to open a modern showroom in Gisozi, Kigali estimated at about Rwf 5million. 

Alyce is not the mean type; she has been able to give back to her society in a number of ways. In 2006, she volunteered for 6 six months as an administrative assistant for the Clinton Foundation, a local charity organisation that provides food and medical care to HIV/AIDS patients.

Having worked previously as a ground hostess with a number of international airlines like Sabena Airlines (now SN Brussels) and Air France, she felt she could share her rich experience locally. So, in 2004, she volunteered for three months as a trainer at the Rwanda Air Express, customer care department.  

In partnership with her husband, they have also been able to start a self-help blog dubbed “How I do it” where anyone is allowed to post or share information and experiences on career development issues.

Alyce Mutamuliza does not shy away from challenges. Instead, she sees opportunity in each one of them.

“I like challenges, so whenever someone offers one, I jump at it without hesitation, even if it’s not in my area of interest. I always do research and pull it off at the end of the day,” she says.

She adds that the challenge of not having reliable supply of work materials from abroad has encouraged her to be creative with the available local materials. For example, inadequate supply of wallpaper instigated her to turn to use of paint concoction to deliver special colour effects that serve the purpose of wallpaper.

However, she points out that one main test still stands out: that of dividing her attention between her four kids, husband and the demanding work schedule.

In the next five years, her aim is to do interior house design at an elevated level, which will include designing her own fabrics instead of buying them and starting up own furniture line. Her desire is to avail all design and artistic material, so people can stop the habit of importing stuff from China, Dubai or India.

Alyce is also a baby room decorator as well as house painting and lighting consultant. Her services range from Rwf25,000 to Rwf200,000. Her showroom in Gisozi is open throughout the week.   

 

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