There is no shortage of nationality-inspired decors on the global scene: from cozy English and French country to Scandinavian minimalism and Japanese Zen. Homes today reflect more than just the owner’s personality or local design trends. Formerly an expression of ethnic roots and historical eras, interior design has by now joined the globalization bandwagon, redefining boundaries of tradition and cultural identity. African décor is one of the recently re-discovered styles making big waves on the interior design scene across the world. Characterized by abundance of natural elements, rich textures, carefully contrasted colors, and recognizable tribal motifs, the decorative echoes of the Dark Continent are both energetic and sophisticated, which is one of the main reasons why more and more designers are turning to the cradle of civilizations for ideas. Here are some tips on how to achieve the African look in your quarters.
Nature Indoors: Lines Etched in Wood and Stone
One of the main features of African décor is abundant use of natural materials as well as organic details. Furnishings typical of this style are often masterfully executed in exotic wood varieties. This includes various types such as mahogany, ebony, cedar, bamboo, and rattan.
Creating a home look highly evocative of the jungle ambiance is key. Stone elements are also quite common. However in most cases it is deployed sparingly, so as not to blemish the prevalence of wood as the main ingredient of an African décor broth.
A Raw Yet Refined Note: Coarse Textures and Animal Hides
Wood pieces in African-styled homes boast either high polish or matte finishes. The textural aspect is often enriched by coarse materials such as cotton, jute, and leather. Hides occupy a prominent place in this trend: from area rugs and sofa covers to coasters and wall tapestries. Animal leathers stand for wilderness, class, and mystery. Be careful when using hides though: excess of animal prints can produce a garish impression more suited to a still nature zoo than a cozy home.
Austerity vs. Gentleness: Jagged Edges, Curves and all the Pretty Shapes
In African look, sharp lines are dexterously tangled with soft curves and elaborate engravings. This produces a sense of natural diversity, characterized by a unique dance of danger and comfort. It provides austerity and gentleness, smooth lines and an occasional unexpected twist. As for accessories and ornaments, African décor is often supplemented by Zulu masks, Maasai spears, and hand-carved wood/ivory figurines. Egyptian papyrus replicas, Ethiopian pottery pieces and Moroccan patchwork can also be deployed to add a bit of visual spice.
Dark jungle nights: Earthy tones with an odd bright splash
Earthy tones and colors of nature pervade the African living area. Color palette typical of this wild land ranges from dark brown and olive green to beige, ivory, ecru, and burnt sienna. Gold, orange, red, yellow and blue can be added as accents to underscore dominant colors, but their use is mostly limited so as not to tarnish the visual effect of solid tones.
A charming sunset: Dim the lights and draw the curtains
African décor relies on natural light as the primary source of illumination, so windows in Africa-inspired living areas should boast airy fabrics such as linen curtains or bamboo shades. When it gets dark, however, whip out tea candles, dimmer lights, or floor lamps with brass bases. Ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, and track lighting are a major no-no for an African home, as discretion is a much-sought asset in this inimitable style.
African homes are the best source of ideas on how to overhaul your interiors following in the tribal footprints. Chic, intriguing, and elegant, African style is a byword for natural charm and primal energy, and a recognizable blend of sophisticated materials and authentic details.
Written by Zoe Clark. Zoe is a proud mom of one baby girl and a miniature schnauzer. When not obsessing about designing perfect homes, Zoe is spending time with her family. For more from Zoe you can follow her on Twitter.