Back in the day, many homes looked like replicas of one another, with plastic-covered sofas, hulking wooden dining room sets and floral or paisley draperies throughout. Then, the Afrocentric design of the ’80s and ’90s overwhelmed rooms with excesses of African masks and animal prints. Although those eras will forever hold a nostalgic place in our hearts, the new Black home is a personalized hybrid of cultures, styles and flavors. From an industrial loft in Brooklyn to a bungalow in New Orleans or a California ranch, African-American homeowners are tastefully incorporating global elements—such as textiles, patterns, wallpaper, art and accents—into their spaces where distinctive style reigns supreme.
It is this new wave of interior design that inspired husband-and-wife duo Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason to write Remix: Decorating With Culture, Objects and Soul ($30; Potter Style). “As a design lover, I’ve always wanted to have a book that showcases diverse families of African descent who have amazing interiors,” says Hays, co-founder of the textiles brand and blog AphroChic. “It’s not something that you find leafing through the national home-decor magazines.” What began as a fruitless search for a pillow with a woman sporting an Afro turned into a six-year project to showcase their variety of elegant edge.
From Congolese kuba prints in the kids’ rooms to original works of art by Mark Bradford or Kenturah Davis in the foyer, Mason says contemporary Black homeowners “find clever ways to blend heritage, where [they] come from and point of view in ways that warm up what can be a cold standard in modern design.” In advance of the November release of Remix, the Philadelphia couple shows off three extraordinary spaces to demonstrate their style.
DINING ON DISPLAY
This Brooklyn abode allows dynamic color and iconic images to take center stage as the cooling turquoise “simply inspires,” says Hays. Reminiscent of tropical seas, the dining room is given a soulful touch with a rail of striking black-and-white photography. Though a cursory glance reveals the notable faces of Luther Vandross and Ella Fitzgerald, a closer look illuminates shots of family and friends in the collection. The Brooklynite keeps a neutral palette for the dining set and accents, mixing birch with glass, metal and simple cotton chair covers tapping a variety of retailers such as CB2, Restoration Hardware (the chandelier) and AphroChic. Sidestep the traditional rules of design, says Mason; instead, “Focus on principles that will bring culture into spaces. Now and even as modern design evolves, these principles will still hold true.”
GET THE LOOK:
Behr Paint in Bali Bliss
PPU13-5 (prices vary;
($4.95 each; cb2.com)
Pendant Small ($395;
Black-and-White Photographs of Historical Figures (from $39.99; ebony.com/store)
Bright and bold,
these hot-pink oversize ikat prints make a stylish statement in this girls’ room in Venice, Calif. “You can get ikat prints in so many color weaves today, [and] they can take on such a life of their own,” Hays says of the vivid touch that is both versatile and more elevated than a typical child’s room. Adorning the twin beds with solid-pink valances keeps the space from looking too busy, while the floors and walls provide a neutral base. Hays suggests considering vibrant suzani, chevron or geometric kuba print textiles for a DIY project; eye-catching upholstery can completely transform new or repurposed furniture.
GET THE LOOK:
Robiya Magenta Silk Ikat Pillow ($100; thebootstrapproject.com)
Ndebele Rug (prices vary;
Tommy Hilfiger Bedding, Preppy Ikat Comforter and Duvet Cover Sets ($70 to $250; macys.com)
In this Inglewood, Calif., living room, a glamorous feature wall is juxtaposed with collected objects from international travels. “Embrace the wallpaper trend as a way to make a big expression,” says Hays, who designed this graphic print. African stools, Indian inlaid chairs and the curated collection of figurines are all examples of traditional items that, when arranged against this backdrop, show off the owner’s interactions with cultures half a world away. Trading kitschy souvenirs for authentic pieces, travelers, Mason says, are ever mindful of elegant decor while vacationing. “It is completely different from the way people used to travel years ago,” adds Hays. When shopping for global furnishings, keep these tips in mind: Look for pieces that have a sculptural design, are made from natural elements and go beyond themes such as “safari chic” to truly reveal the culture they represent. Hays insists this will make the pieces carry more meaning in your home.
GET THE LOOK:
The Vibe Wallpaper
($150 per roll; aphrochicshop.com)
Natural Bowen Wishbone Chair
Rhino Object and Abstract Giraffe
($29 and $24; westelm.com)