It might not surprise you that when I travel, I like to bring home souvenirs to remind me of where I have visited. It is not unusual for travellers to do this. The tourism industry thrives on selling trinkets for tourists to take home, such as Big Ben fridge magnets or wooden toy Russian dolls. I collect art so when I travel I tend to buy paintings by local artists of places such as Lapa in Rio de Janeiro and Mekong River in Ho Chi Minh City. I have now found that it is better to decorate my home with stand out pieces from abroad, rather than trinkets that get out on a shelf and are rarely looked at.
Africa is in my blood so it should not surprise you that I have found ways to bring Africa to my lovely garden flat in London. That is not to say that my home is filled with Zebra rugs and ivory clocks. No, I have found ways to decorate modestly and inexpensively.
1) Buy rugs
The best way to bring Africa to your home is with your feet so buy carpet and/or rugs when you are next in Africa. Their rugs are usually handwoven and you will find plenty if you go to local markets. Here are a few inspired looks.
A great way to infuse some colour on a grey or dull sofa is to use cushions. I buy a lot of cushions so that I can interchange during the different seasons. From winter blues to summer pinks to autumn browns, I have them all.
Why not make your own lampshade? Buy material online or from any African shop. YouTube and Pinterest have plenty of people trying to teach how to d-i-y. If you don't want to make one, you could buy a Moroccan style lantern which usually has various coloured glass on it.
4) Woven baskets and bowls
African women love to sit in the shade and weave baskets. I think they find it therapeutic. Here are a few that you can buy online. You can keep newspapers, magazines or fruit in these bowls and baskets.
When I came from Morocco, I brought back a leather pouffe that I had taken pleasure haggling over. Although I bought it for a reasonable price, I still somehow feel like I could've battered for more.
Africans have inspired furniture makers through the years. We see this inspiration in garden furniture and the Emanuelle peacock chair reminds of the safaris in Africa.
There are also other ways of infusing African colours into your home, such as using murals, wallpaper and paintings, or simply buying a textile to cover your sofa. Nowadays a lot of our textiles, which are being called "tribal" by Europeans are actually inspired by Africa so you should be able to find a few pieces without much trouble. I hope that you have found some inspiration to redecorate your home and use your travels to guide you.
If you have any ideas or have found other African inspired home decor items, why not share them with us.