Afrocentric Interior Design by Bolanle Akindayomi


I live in the bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria and I get a lot of clients that request for an African/contemporary fusion that fit their lifestyles, this is right up my alley because I am directly influenced by my environment.

It is advisable to begin with a clear vision where each piece would be represented and this is where a mood board can be useful. You do not want to go overboard in your design and end up literally living in a museum, however, you do not want to be shy and overly cautious with your design and pieces, what you want is to be as bold and vivacious as the continent.

A mood board incorporating African/Contemporary design


Africa is vast and rich in culture so you would have to research what particular region of the continent your clients would like in their home. After the decision has been made to embark on this project another important thing to note is cost implications and their budget. A budget friendly form of this theme would be to recreate an African skyline with perhaps textured wallpaper with sunset colours and decorate with traditional patterned throw pillows, earthenware and artifacts. 

Personally, when creating an African inspired interior I prefer to pick pieces as focal items or colours that create an impact within a space, be it a warm rich orange for a wall with carved African masks serving as an exotic back drop or cedar wood footstools tastefully arranged in a living room

Colour Mood Board incorporating African/Contemporary elements

Here are a few tips to consider in creating a cohesive African inspired interior:

1. Research the mood and the ambience you would like to create within the space. A mood board of chosen pieces and furnishing would help with clarity. Doing this would help create the balance needed to create a cohesive and thoughtfully planned space.

2. For your design think deep rich earthy tones that reflect the hot African sun, terracotta and clay huts and in contrast; beige, creams and browns which is inspired by natural components such as woven baskets and raffia mats seen in the traditional home which adds warmth and a sense of comfort into your design.

3. Vivacious yellow, natural greens and revitalizing reds fit right at home with dark wooden floors, ebony artifacts and African mahogany furniture these to say the least, this mix and match of bright and dark colours with appealing textures serves to bring unique depth in your design scheme.

4. African décor is largely influenced by nature so it is only natural to incorporate organic and sustainable materials when selecting décor to use for the space. The use of braided and forged furniture made from raffia, straws, cane and wood in its numerous forms are a great way to express an African design scheme. Materials commonly found in a typical traditional setting would be natural leather and skins sourced from animals such as zebras, giraffes, crocodiles and snakes, I would advise to use these materials in small doses to create a strong impact in a Contemporary/African design scheme. 

An array of Afrocentric Interior Design

Maximise the potential of your space by carefully planning a scheme that brings elements mentioned above; embellish the space with paintings, and African arts and crafts to help with the flow. Another subtle way to introduce African interior in an otherwise contemporary setting would be to limit its use to a particular space, for example, keeping the theme within an entrance hallway or lobby which sets a mysterious tone at the onset. Imagine walking into a home and the first things you encounter are ritual masks and exotic sculptures.

African interior design is slowly growing a niche following amongst contemporary designers with its captivating prints, bold sculptures and enigmatic masks, made all the more special if created by local craft men. Draw inspiration for an African themed paradise from its different cultures and people.

Bolanle Akindayomi