The Do’s and Don’ts of African American Design

I was recently contacted by a potential client that wanted to infuse African Inspired Decor into their home. However, She had a clear list of “African” Interior Design DON’Ts that she did not want to use. This got me thinking of all of the incredibly cliche and kitsch ways that I have seen African Interior Design displayed. As a contributing member of society, I won’t only show the Missteps, I’ll also provide some alternatives. You’re Welcome 🙂

 —————Here is a roundup of African Design Do’s and Don’ts ———–


       1.DON’T- Hang pictures of Lions, Giraffes’ or Elephants.

Unfortunately, I have seen this done much too often. I love the fact that we  are trying to inject “Africa” into our home but there are much less overt ways to that.

zebra picture

                   INSTEAD- hang baskets

African baskets have a deep rooted African history.  Hanging baskets is an African tradition that I am definitely here for. Check out my blog post where I dive deeper into the cultural relevance of African baskets HERE 

african baskets

hanging baskets 2


Don’t:  Use cheetah print as your go to pattern. 

It’s perfectly fine to love cheetah print. However, If you are using this print as your only “African” inspired piece, then just let it go. Africa is much more than it’s animals so let’s get a little more creative.

cheetah bed

cheetah print


INSTEAD: Use mud cloth.

There are so many variations of mud cloth that have a large range of  color, texture, and print that whatever your style, you are sure to find something you love.

mud cloth

mudcloth chair

Don’t : Have a Zebra printed area rug.

I’m not here to knock anyones personal style and what they like, however, I can only think of  MAYBE, a couple of ways in which I would use a zebra rug that doesn’t come off as corny and, trying to hard.



INSTEAD: Get a rug that is made of natural fibers like a JUTE rug.

Africans love to incorporate nature into the home. A rug would be a great opportunity to insert a natural element.

jute and black


jute rug


Don’t: Use Brown and Red for your wall color

A chocolate brown or deep red is hard to pull off, period. It’s such a saturated color that it doesn’t leave any room for your accessories and furniture to shine.

red walls


brown walls



Instead: Go neutral

With your walls being neutral you let all of the texture and pattern in your accessories and furniture take center stage.

neutral wall


white wallsI hope these tips were helpful! Be honest, have you made any of these mistakes before?


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