All images by Keith Major for EBONY Media.
For doula and Mama Glow founder Latham Thomas, stepping inside her tranquil Brooklyn digs means retreating to her own piece of paradise. As a person constantly on the go and one who interacts with and pours into others almost daily, it was necessary for her to curate a space that helped ground her when the outside world becomes overwhelming.
"I'm from California, so I'm used to the outdoors being incorporated into the home. Growing up in Oakland, I have memories of being surrounded by lots of green space and my neighbors having gardens," recalls Thomas. "Now, as a New Yorker, that's not always the case. So I wanted to create an oasis that allowed me to feel that connection and tether to the outdoors and the earth. I'm a Taurus and I need to feel grounded; thus, I chose to bring earthly elements into my home."
Taking a few years to perfect her home's interior, the Mama Glow founder perused local vintage stores as well as Anthropologie for many of the pieces now found in her home. And while a lot of her furniture and accents look and feel expensive—and as though they should be off limits from touching or using—Thomas makes it clear that her space is certainly meant to be inviting to those who enter.
"I want people to feel welcomed, safe, happy, and like they don't have to leave. It should feel very communal and as if there's no rush. Although there are beautiful pieces, my home is very comfortable," she shares. "I don't have any furniture off limits in this house, which I think is important. I've always wanted that type of experience for my guests. If someone wants to take a nap on the couch or go in our guest nook and sleep, they are able to."
With high ceilings being the focal point of the first floor, when one walks in, the home feels very expansive and open, which Thomas says allows one to slow down and feel a lot more levity.
"I just want folks to feel like it's a little place of refuge to tuck away in. I like to entertain, so when they come, I want them to feel like it's a boutique hotel," she adds.
Overall, the professor and author has been intentional on curating a space that can serve as her personal retreat while also being inviting for her friends, families and even students.
Here, Thomas invites EBONY into her home to share more behind its design inspiration. We've also pulled a few of some of our favorite pieces from Thomas' home that you, too, can shop to create a similar feel in your abode.
Earthly elements come to life
Thomas' multilevel NYC apartment is a literal oasis, with lots of greenery filling the space—especially the upstairs full bath. To further her desire for earthy elements, she held on to the home's original wood flooring, while also adding in more wood accents within some of the furniture pieces.
"Wood is live, so having elements like that are really grounding. Having the original wood floors was such an easy launch pad to be able to build on to create some softness while incorporating earthiness," shares Thomas.
A kitchen inspired by the Caribbean
"The kitchen for me is a little slice of Caribbean heaven," shares the Mama Glow founder. She transformed the apartment's former galley kitchen into a room that's filled with color by opting for color-blocked cabinets to break up some of the monotony of the wooden cabinetry.
"We have some wood exposure on the cabinets, but we also painted them in hues of pink, yellow and orange," she reveals. "For me, it was about making it fun and not just having this wall of cabinetry. I didn't want to have cabinets proper. The color also allows me to expand the space, and it's just more inviting. The colors were really inspired by some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen, to inspire a sort of evanescent warmth."
Soak and retreat in the jungle-like bathroom
Once used by her college-aged son, Latham Thomas shares that her guest bathroom was curated to mimic a jungle retreat. Filled with some of her favorite plants, the full bath's centerpiece is the antique white claw tub.
"I purposely chose not to add a shower," she says. "It forces you to take a bath, and if there's any way that I can get people to slow down, that's how. It's nice to have a tub that's big enough to just soak and relax. There's really cool tile in there. We wallpapered and added some mood lighting. It's one of my favorite places to just retreat."
An altar to honor the ancestors
While there are several within her home—many being private—Thomas's living room altar is the standout. The massive cowrie collar—which she found in a beach store in Montauk—is mounted atop the vintage bench, and serves as a symbolic representation of the currency that many West African cultures once lifted. They also serve as a reminder of ancient divination practices and an anchoring to Thomas' Blackness and Africaness.
"It's a space that I use to honor my grandmother and those who have passed," shares the doula. "I have a lot of living elements like shells, seeds and essential oils. I also have orange blossom water, candies and my grandmother's rosaries. Things that she really loved. It's a way to remember her and others more consistently, and to call on them for help when needed."
A reading nook designed to soothe
"When I was little, I enjoyed going to the park to swing. So, I knew when I got older I would have a hammock or swing. It's really soothing for the nervous system. I sit in this swinging chair to read, and to feel myself moving. The gentle sway is great, especially in times of stress. I can also curl up inside it because it's big enough."