Sometimes, as interior designers, we can forget that we hardly acknowledge most of the globe, when it comes to taking sources of our inspiration.
Shamefully, we are incredibly Western and Eurocentric in our outlook. But that is not the whole story of interior design and increasingly, we are starting to see some African inspired design meeting our more traditional approach to interior design in LA!
But when we are speaking about African inspired design, we know we are still guilty of some big generalizations. This is a massive continent and what is traditional in Morocco is not going to be the same as it is in say, South Africa.
So, inevitably, any design we undertake may take parts of it all. It is, of course, up to you which specific countries, regions and cultures you wish to display and recreate in your own home.
However, there are certain elements that are usually always present in any African inspired interior design.
Wood is ever present in nearly all African inspired design. These are almost always the darker colored woods and provide beautiful accenting for any room.
Predominant in African interior design are principally; African mahogany, cedar and ebony woods.
Other materials that are popular across the continent are straw, clay, leaves (and other natural materials) as well as things like pottery, earthenware and of course, animal skins.
You can be as bold as you like when it comes to African inspired design!
Earthy colors, yellows, reds, browns and orange are all the go to colors. In addition to this also there are the tropical inspired greens and blues.
It is important to remember you can go as far, or as minimal as you like, with this look. You don’t have to have an overload of bright or heavy colors. You might opt for placing a few elements of the earthy look around your more traditional interior design in LA.
If wall to wall leopard prints aren’t your thing, you could try the other approach and bring elements of the tropical to your home.
This could mean the emphasis on green and living plants – of the tropical variety – for example.
Colors could be more based towards the greens and blues and this includes the artworks for example.
You don’t have to go all out with the Zebra stripes – if you don’t want to. A couple of corners in the house with a small display of African art or craft works for example could be enough to bring the flavor into the room.
One short cut to creating an African themed vibe is to simply add a beautiful wall hanging, to cover your spaces with.
These will most likely be in earthy hues and add texture as well as color and style to the room.
The same could go for framed fabric prints.
Animal Prints And Patterns
We are not suggesting that you have to skin a Zebra personally – or at all! But fake animal prints, throws and patterning may be the addition you need to make this look work for your room.
Suggested uses are especially in the bedroom as a cover or bedspread, as well as draped over couches and chairs.
We are seeing a lot of weaved style window dressings, made from natural materials and especially as blinds.
Wooden or bamboo blinds might add that distinctive touch of nature you are seeking for this style, as are simple cotton prints, in earthy tones.
Blinds and plantation shutters, also lend themselves extremely well to the African theme.
Finally, curtains and drapes can also be employed – with an African inspired print (maybe animals, nature or landscapes). These are also frequently in shades of browns and orange.
Wooden furniture – in heavy dark woods is favored the most in African inspired design.
Even consider the bathroom suite being carved from wood – we think this bath looks just the ticket to sink into after a hard day on safari!
Other materials that work in this environment, are wicker and sea grass – anything natural in fact.
Carvings, masks, clay figures, plates and other table ware can all be placed on the wall, on the mantelpiece or shelves – or simply suspended from the ceiling to help bring your room to life!
The use of natural items such as leaves – being incorporated into designs or weaves, or just used as a pattern, for example could work. Also, natural elements such as feathers can provide the right notes in an African themed interior design.
At the heart of the combinations of materials and color, is the sense of a deep comfort. With the abundance of chocolate colored woods and materials, it would be hard not to sink into this space and feel truly at home.
Add in some textural elements, such as cotton rugs if you don’t want to opt for animal skins or prints.
In traditional African homes, especially for example in Southern Africa, many opt for a concrete floor as this will help keep the house cool.
These may be overlaid with a sisal mat.
Rugs with African style motifs and designs can also be used.
You may decide to keep your wooden flooring, though. As long as it looks natural, we think it will be in keeping with the overall theme.
A word about lighting in your African inspired rooms. Because of the preponderance of darker colors – especially with dark mahogany woods and ebony accenting your spaces- care needs to be taken to ensure that it does not become gloomy.
This is where the lighting plays its part.
At no point do we want to dazzle anyone or make the room appear sterile. But it is important to keep the balance right in the space and that means ensuring that there is still a sunny glow and cheer to the design, long after the sun has gone down!
The lighting is an opportunity to showcase a really beautiful African print stretched across a lampshade. It is also a great way to include more deep woods into the room.
We would probably employ the use of metal light fittings sparingly in an African themed space – making way for more beautiful woods. However, this does not mean that it cannot be used at all.
If you were to choose a metal lighting fitting, perhaps a candelabra design might fit the bill the best.
On the whole, African design opts for light colored walls – but this does not mean the wall to wall (literally) screaming white of Scandinavian interior design.
Instead, African themed design favors a more gentle, milky white color. This may instead be switched for warm or light sunlight yellows or even a soft orange wash.
Because in traditional homes, the walls would often be made from clay, it is important to think of the texture of the walls as well. These could be embossed by the use of certain types of paint, for example, to give a greater textural element.
If you are up for something a little more brave, why not consider a landscape themed or animal design mural for a wall? This could work in virtually any room of the house – but may stun your visitors in your living room or provide an atmospheric backdrop to your bedroom.
As ever, finding the balance between the African look and your own interior design in LA is the key to cracking the ideal room.