Originally created 10/03/04

Couple's decor reflects years spent in Kenya

They spent only two years in Kenya, but their time in the African nation dramatically influenced the decorating style of John and Beth Guerrieri.

They lived in the capital, Nairobi, in the 1990s while Mr. Guerrieri served as a guidance counselor for an international school. He's now a math teacher at Augusta Preparatory School.

African decor is "colorful and not the norm," Mrs. Guerrieri said.

"People are always surprised when they see it," she added. "It's interesting. We cherish these things. We know where they all came from."

The African flavor in their home in West Lake subdivision in Columbia County is intermingled with other styles, including pieces from England and Russia and antiques that belong to Mrs. Guerrieri's mother, Lib Hancock, who lives with the couple.

The Guerrieris had the home built about three years ago. They previously lived in Beaufort, S.C., and had planned to build in Hilton Head Island, S.C. On a trip, they got lost in Augusta and began flipping through a real estate magazine. Impressed with the cost of properties in the area (and because it was close to two of their children in Atlanta), they decided to move.

Large screens decorated with faces of African women hang on the walls in the great room. A wall niche holds a special item, a sculpture of Masai dancing warriors, carved from one piece of wood.

Other room accents include a gourd used by Masai warriors, hand-carved ebony candlesticks, a handmade drum and a marbles game from Madagascar. A doll of a Masai woman and one of a Samburu man sit side by side on a shelf.

Mrs. Guerrieri said only the dolls could sit side by side because the two tribes do not get along. The doll clothes are made from authentic materials of the tribe, she said.

On one of the walls is a plaque with the Swahili word karibu, meaning "welcome."

The master suite downstairs is Mrs. Hancock's. A mannequin form in the room showcases Mrs. Hancock's wedding dress, which was made by her mother.

A stained-glass window in the master suite reflects Mrs. Hancock's past. It's from a Methodist church she had been a member of while living in Spartanburg, S.C.

Upstairs, one guest bedroom is furnished with antiques and decorated with photographs of Mrs. Guerrieri's ancestors. A dress and bonnet worn by her mother as a child hang in the room.

The other guest bedroom offers work space for Mr. Guerrieri. It's decorated with plaques and other sports memorabilia.

An avid baseball fan and Michigan native, Mr. Guerrieri played in the Detroit Tigers minor league system. He coached numerous teams and was named to the Michigan High School Hall of Fame for coaching in 1993. He also is one of the coaches at Augusta Prep.

The master suite has many colorful African pieces, including batiks depicting everyday scenes. A safari chair with a pith hat in its seat is part of the decor. The windows are dressed in a sheer fabric with animals such as leopards and gazelles imprinted on it.

Mrs. Guerrieri said her favorite room is probably the great room.

"It tells the biggest story of what we are about," she said.

At Home With

The Family: Beth and John Guerrieri and Mrs. Guerrieri's mother, Lib Hancock

The Basics: Two-story stucco, 3,400-square-foott interior with two master suites and four bedrooms and 3 bathrooms

It's A Fact: The Guerrieris had planned to build a home at Hilton Head Island, S.C. They decided to move to the Augusta area after getting lost in the area and reading a real estate magazine.


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