As we enter another season of staying at home, maintaining functional and inspiring living spaces matters more than ever.
“People are home and noticing the things that don’t work for them in a different way,” says Danielle Colding, a New York-based interior designer and HGTV Design Star winner. “They now have to have homes that function in a multitude of ways, so we’re having to rethink our spaces.”
A lot has changed since the pandemic began, including a movement fighting for racial justice. According to a September poll, Black-owned businesses were more than twice as likely as white-owned businesses to close. Despite applying to the Paycheck Protection Program, or loans from the Small Business Association, at higher rates, Black businesses received less assistance than white or Latinx ones. So why not revamp your living space and support the Black community?
Choose a rejuvenating color theme
“Your home should truly be a place to recharge,” Colding says. “It should be where you feel inspired, where you can build up your reserves and go face the world again.”
Switching the lighting and color scheme changes a room’s mood. Colding recommends reenergizing jewel tones, like turquoise, sapphire, ruby red, magenta or emerald. Or, to create a more Zen sanctuary, go for neutrals, light colors and minimalistic patterns.
Brooklyn-based fine artist and project manager Alicia Noelle Jones didn’t decorate her apartment with much artwork before lockdown early in the pandemic. Moving into the “dark and dreary” winter, she adorns her apartment with colorful wall art and furniture from her ANoelleJay brand centered on the environment and her Jamaican roots.
“You have to find a way to bring the sunlight and to bring brightness into a space,” Jones says. She recommends warm colors like red, yellow and orange.
Add cozy layers
Blankets, throws and pillows can spruce up furniture, and online stores make it easy to find brands that match your aesthetic. “I have a lot of rugs and pillows that just make the apartment feel cozy and tie together the colors of the [environment] collection and all my plants,” Jones says.
BespokeBinny, owned by Natalie Manima and winner of the Etsy 2020 Design awards, sells colorful, Africa-inspired blankets for $66 and throw pillows prints for $33.
Colding also recommends clients invest in two to three sets of sheets and a duvet or throw for the winter. Jungalow by California-based designer Justina Blakeney offers a wide selection of nature-inspired quilt sets starting at $65 and hook pillows reminiscent of the summer sun for $55.
Society6 offers home goods from blackout curtains to floor cushions. You can explore dozens of its Black creators here.
Tell a story with accessories
Mix the old with the new to add personality to a space, Colding says. “To have a space that’s unique, you need to add some funky things.”
For old, Blk Mkt Vintage sells rare African and African American magazines, memorabilia and sculptures dating back to the 1950s, and circantique on Etsy sells art and miscellaneous gems as old as the 1800s. For new, check out Karen Jai Home’s one-stop shop for elegant home accessories or Laura Hodges Studio’s handmade ceramics starting at $20 and plant pots for under $25.
If words of affirmation are your love language, decorate your room with custom, hand-lettered notes from StudioKyra or graphic design prints by Morgan Harper Nichols. To wake up to inspiring historical figures and pop culture icons every day, check out Alleanna Harris’s $10 art prints of labor leader Dolores Huerta or Whitley Gilbert from “A Different World.”
Shop Vida’s Black Lives Matter Collection that spotlights five Black artists and offers glass trays for $35 and wood wall art for $40. Jones says it’s the collaboration she’s “most proud of in terms of environmental and social impact.” Vida donates 10% of proceeds to a community organization of the artist’s choice.
Follow Black artists on social media
Many non-Black clients also want to invest in African and African American art, Colding says. You can discover up-and-coming artists on Instagram using hashtags like #supportblackart or on @youngblackartists.