Infusing South African Design Into Home

By Adria Saracino

South Africa has a rich culture that blends both modern-day ideas with age-old traditions. From the wild safari to metropolitan Durban, South African design ranges between modern and traditional. How do you strike a balance and apply it to your home? The answer is to look for ways to add a warm and inviting modern interpretation of South Africa’s rich past. Here are three principles to keep in mind when infusing South African design into your home, plus DIY ideas for making them a reality.

1. Mix patterns from different style periods

Modern African Style

Don’t be afraid to mix patterns from different style families. For example, choose a graphic animal print that evokes the safari and mix it with a contemporary striped fabric, as seen above. The key is to keep the items in the same color family or at least ensure one color is repeated throughout the space to ensure cohesiveness.

Home Improvement Project: If you find fabrics you love, consider upholstering yourself. There is no need to settle when you fall in love with a piece of fabric just because it’s not already transformed into a usable piece – do it yourself! Here is an in-depth tutorial from Mother Earth News on how to do this.

 2. Turn up the chic by turning down the volume

African Wall Art

It’s easy to get carried away with the rich colors of traditional tribal garb. However, it can quickly make a space look themed and overdone. To create a clean, serene, and welcoming space, try sticking to neutrals. Allow texture and patterns to make a bold statement.

Home Improvement Project: If you are going to do a large statement using accessories, as in the example above, make sure to plan before hanging. Consider laying out how you want it to look on the floor and then one by one marking their spot on the wall with an “X” using a pencil. Also, make sure to use the proper equipment for hanging. For lightweight baskets, your trusty hammer should do the trick. But for heavy items, consider power drills and reinforced brackets.

3. Don’t be afraid to go there

Tribal Masks

Sometimes you will fall in love with a specific part of a culture. Even if it is “obvious,” don’t be afraid to go with your gut and add what you love to your home. For example, tribal masks are quintessentially African. If you like them, add them! It can make a great statement. The key is to use it in moderation and as accessories, which can easily be switched out if you fall in love with another design style.

Home Improvement Project: Like the animal-print detail on the couch above? Even if you don’t have the know-how to add a strip of fabric to an existing cushion, adding African-inspired flare to an existing couch is easy. Check to see if the manufacturer has an alternative version from which you can purchase cushions. If there are designs that go with your motif, simply switch them out. If alternative options aren’t available, reupholstering cushions or adding pillows and shams is another way to bring a couch to life. You could even add new feet that go better with the theme, going as far as lion-claw feet! You can even do this to spice up your bathroom vanities with granite tops!

Adria Saracino is a marketer, blogger, and design lover. She writes for South African Hotels, an online tourism portal that helps travelers find everything South African – from Durban accommodations to Zimbabwe safari tours.

Photo Credit: interior design with tribal masks, modern African design

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