Whose House? Malaikah’s house

It’s instantly clear when walking into Malaikah Rang’inya’s home that she has a passion for décor. The writer and poet’s front door opens into a bright pink and tangerine living room, populated with objects and antiques that have been either selected or repainted to fit the colour scheme.

“Each room in the apartment has its own theme,” Rang’inya says. “I try to imbue each space with a type of energy. This room, for example, is my pastel pink room. I just think, ‘Would a twelve-year-old girl dressing up as a princess think it’s cool? Yes? It’s sparkly and has crazy colours? It belongs in this room.’”

Rang’inya also says that her constant repainting and redecorating of the home serves a self-care purpose.

“Painting a wall is a good stress reliever,” she says. “As the years go by, you change as a person, you want different feelings in different rooms. But mostly, there’s no better stress release than saying, ‘It’s been a bad day. I’m going to roll out the paint cans, put on the coveralls and just go to town.’”

Rang’inya says that, like her poetry, her overt style of décor is a potent form of self-expression.

“I feel like my entire life is made up of metaphor,” she says. “I’m never just saying things the way they are. There’s always more room for excitement and drama, flourishes and pizazz.”

1) Mantlepiece “There’s lots of stuff on here. Some of the art is mine, some is my roommate’s. But mostly what’s important is that, between the paint and white fur and glitter, it just feels very over the top.”

2) Glitter wall “I worked at the mall last holiday season. I was walking by La Senza and they had these glittery rose gold sheets hanging behind their displays. I asked the manager what she did with those when they were done. ‘We just throw them out,’ she said. I said, ‘Don’t do that this year. Give them to me. I work right next door.’”

3) Antique telephone “I’m still trying to find someone who can fix this so I can make or receive calls on it. Even if it’s just to buzz people up to the apartment, that’s my dream.”

4) X-rays and MRIs “The x-rays are my mom. She had a minor neck injury and got these taken. She kept them, and I stole them. The MRIs are from when I was in the hospital. I had collapsed lungs, and these were taken to make sure I’d healed. Everything in this room is prissy and femme, which is very me. I feel these balance it out and add an element of macabre to it.”

5) Fireplace books “I put out a bunch of books I really love. A Short History of African Art is one the first books I ever found that focused purely on African art, which is really cool, and it matched the colour scheme of this room. A Little Princess is my favourite book in the entire world.”

6) Walk-in closet “This room was, I assume, meant as a dining room. I have no use for that, so I thought, ‘Why don’t I just put my clothes in here?’ The plan is to paint this with a 1950s-style pastel green and pink. The mannequin I also got while working at Polo Park. I just undressed her, because I try and change her outfit for each season.”

Published in Volume 71, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 23, 2017)

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