With two major influences coming from Europe and the Far East, there was little space left in interior design for ideas inspired by African culture. Now, the situation is slowly but steadily changing. The diversity and uniqueness of the vast African continent, when translated into the language of interior design, brings us a rich, beautiful and often transcendental style. Vivid colours, animal prints, locally crafted wooden figurines, landscapes of sunrises over grasslands, unique instruments, all reflect the captivating mystique of the black continent. African interior does not require too much investment if you are not going for a complete makeover. For a start, add an element or two of the African style to your home (a few clay or wooden masks or an animal-themed wallpaper) and you will witness an instant transformation.
Although each of the 55 countries of the continent has its own unique aesthetics, there are some common elements to the style that we have listed below.
1. African style of organic textures
The texture is an essential element of interior design. Textured objects present a focusing point for the eye, and without them, space may look sterile and dull. But, just like with everything else, be careful not to exaggerate. In terms of African style, organic textures are its main qualifier. Any natural material, such as silk, cotton, wood, stone, leather, etc. will work. There are no limits to their use either. From bed covers to kitchen elements, organic textures are a desirable choice. Animal skin wall tapestries are also a distinguishing feature of the style, but while used with measure, overusing it might take you straight into the kitsch trap. There is also an ethical issue to consider. Instead of animal skins, ethnic rugs are a great option with a lot of texture.
2. Rich colours
All warm shades imaginable will fit perfectly into the cosiness of African décor. Think yellow, deep orange, bright red, terracotta, brown and sand. Another trick is to combine contrasting light and dark colours. While splashes of vivid hues are very common, they are used only for accentuating purposes and to bring a touch of drama. Do not avoid even black colour. However, neutral colour palette, consisting of natural, earthy and sand tones, should prevail as they have the calming effect. Instead of the polished look, the walls and furnishings should have a rustic appearance.
3. Exotic African style patterns
Recreate the African safari and sunsets over the vast grasslands in your home by throwing in a rug with leopard print, pillowcases with zebra stripes, or a giraffe patterned ottoman. Turn your living room into the African Savanna with colourful jungle-themed wallpapers. Exotic wallpapers are fashionable again, so they should not be so hard to find. Why stop there? Tribal patterns, cheetah spots, protea flowers, banana leaves, baobab trees, and many more authentic patterns can be transferred to anything from walls, via bed linen, to floor coverings. You do not have to stick to only one pattern as they can be easily combined with each other.
4. Wooden furniture
Furniture is one of the most recognizable elements of the African inspired interior. The only right choice with respect to furniture material is wood. Be it ebony, cedar, or mahogany, as long as it is dark and raw. Avoid shiny finishes. The lines should be sharp and should resemble the tribal figurines. Upholstery should also be of a natural material, usually dark coloured leather. Another option is patterned upholstery with tribal ornaments, animal prints, or rich floral patterns.