Design Special: African interiors inspo

Tribal, safari and jungle are in – look through the binoculars to the Serengeti

Quadrille-Safari-style-africa

Safari Style Africa by Dook with Annemarie Meintjes (£35, Hardie Grant Books) has evocative images of striking safari lodges

Trends come and go, but three perennial favourites for interior decoration are those that bring us a little taste of the vast continent of Africa: tribal, safari and jungle. Like any fashion, of course, less is often more, so if you’re planning on bringing this look into your home, build it up in layers, aiming for playful and personalised rather than full-on hunting lodge or tree-house.

The right palette will go a long way towards setting the mood, so make colour one of your first considerations. Steer clear of stark whites or cool greys and target sandy tones: camel, warm browns and accents of deep orange will kick off the correct tonal feel. Painting the walls in one of these desert shades will quickly warm up the room and set the scene, allowing you to bring in more obvious ingredients of the African theme.

Start small, perhaps with the addition of a few animalistic elements to bring the safari theme to life. Try a smiling zebra vase from Ella James, or encourage high jinks with one of Amy Kent’s cheeky swinging monkey rugs. Natural materials also have an important role to play. Look for accessories made from wood, rope or wicker. Placing wooden masks on the walls, such as the Savanna giraffe mask from Myakkah will instantly give an injection of tribal flavour.

zebra-vase-monkey-rug-and-giraffe-mask

From left: Zebra head ceramic vase, £32, Ella James; Monkey rug, £642 per sq.m, Amy Kent; Savanna animal mask,
£36, Myakka

Decorative objects made of unvarnished clay, especially if they’re hand-crafted, can have a similar impact. Don’t forget to give your light fittings some attention too; look for shades made from natural fibres. The pendant fashioned from palm leaves below is a good example. Hanging an unusual lampshade will draw the eye upwards and has the benefit of making ceilings feel higher than they are.

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If your little ones want to join in, the African theme can easily be adapted for kids’ rooms. It’s likely they’re still caught up in Lion King fever, so why not take that as a starting point for their bedroom or play area. Look for faux animal rugs in bright colours or cushions depicting a pride of lions, or give them their very own hideout with an animal-print teepee – every explorer needs a decent HQ in which to dream up new safari adventures. They’ll love playing at being king of Pride Rock (though do watch out for dramatic re-enactments of the heartbreaking cinematic moment which nearly ruined every big kid’s childhood).

Back with the grownups, another subtle way to reference the animal kingdom is through the use of leather, which has the advantage of being both a natural material and in keeping with the colour scheme. Why not try a magazine holder or dining chairs in hide, or simply changing the handles in your kitchen for a softer option. You could even go for leather cushions, a great solution if you love the theme but don’t want to invest in a new sofa. These tables from Ishino (below) are actually made from concrete and steel, so they’re durable but still have that natural animal-skin look. 

pendant-light-tables-and-hide-chair

From left: Ishino low tables, £3,805, Chaplins Furniture; Cosydar palm pendant light, £106, Smallable; Cowhide chair, £1,295, Idyll Home

Print run

african-prints

From left: Harlequin Kinabalu in silver, £58 per roll, John Lewis; Serengeti in marigold, £120 per roll, Modlo; Paws Cobalt, £37.50 per metre, Blendworth

elephant-print-wallpaper-and-spotted-chairs

From left: Elephant Grove wallpaper, £13.59 per roll, Arthouse; Fabric: Collection Terre d’ Aventure, Marakele, £64.20 per m, Casamance

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