The trend of having ethnic or tribal pieces incorporated into our homes isn’t new. People who travel extensively have always brought back items from far away countries and displayed them in their homes. It was, however, more difficult if we didn’t have the option to travel all over the globe several times a year. It used to be the case that we were stuck with whatever we could find in shops or, if we were lucky, on markets. Things have changed a lot since then and we can now get beautiful pieces from all over the world delivered to our doorstep. Whilst it might still be more satisfying to actually travel to the country to bring back a gorgeous piece, logistics might not really permit us to really do so. Things like weight and size restrictions for luggage will work against us when trying to bring back a moroccan rug or balinese carved skull.
Still, whether you have actually sourced the item in the country itself or online, a piece of foreign culture will definitely add some interest to your home and can be chosen according to your personal taste. A Juju hat (also known as Bamiléké feather head dress or Tyn Hat) is one of those items that will look amazing in pretty much any home – ok, maybe apart from a typically English cottage style one. Made from chicken or wild bird feathers, it is one of those pieces that make an impact without being too “in your face” as you can choose the colour according to your walls or overall look.
For a small and delicate addition, a dreamcatcher is perfect as it doesn’t take much space and looks beautiful hanging in front of a window. It’s one of those small pieces that will make you smile and don’t require you to think too much about how it will work with the rest of the space.
Whether it’s wall hangings or cushions, fabrics with traditional patterns can be used to great effect to transform your wall or your sofa. Just a few cushions in varying blue and white patterns will instantly introduce a summery mood to your room not dissimilar to a balinese home. Ok, admittedly they still don’t guarantee similar temperatures or sunshine…
Mixing pieces from different cultures and countries will make the look more eclectic and personal. A balinese (ethically made!) carved skull, a south african handmade figure of a man on a bike, an indian print block and a tibetan wooden water bowl (bottom of the picture, half cut off) all work together here and make for an interesting and very varied display.
Of course you don’t have to bunch all pieces together as one display. Dot them around your space and they will actually pull your place together to give it an overall ethnic look. Masks, paintings, calligraphy brushes and fabrics all work beautifully here and give the room a relaxed yet interesting look.
Depending on your personal taste, you might consider using several pieces from one country. Here a moroccan rug, throw and cushion have all been placed together in a very pared back room. The pieces work together because they’re from the same country but also because the colours are well co-ordinated and the patterns aren’t overwhelming.
If, however, you’re still a little shy about incorporating ethnic styles into your home, then just start on a small scale. Maybe you have an old chair that needs reupholstering in which case you could consider a Kilim fabric to give it a bit of an ethnic touch. And if you’re not quite sure about it afterwards, well, you can always sit on it which means you won’t see it…!
We hope this is helpful! Do you have any tips for bringing ethnic and tribal ideas into your home? Tweet us @OFLOakFurniture with your best advice. We’d love to hear.