Heritage has been on my mind lately, as I recently did a home DNA testing kit. It was a fascinating experience, finding out that the family story I knew wasn’t all there was to my history. In fact, my ancestry spans the globe, something I didn’t expect at all. It opened me up to a lot of interesting thoughts and feelings, and I decided to translate that into interior design.
If you’re thinking of basing some interior design on your heritage and culture, try discover your ancestry with a DNA testing kit. You’ll find results you never imagined.
However, it’s not easy to do design based off heritage without coming across as either kitsch or culturally insensitive. These are the strategies I came up with for avoiding those minefields.
Cultural appropriation is a major faux pas nowadays, and there are good reasons for this. When one person claims another culture’s trademarks without ever having the lived experience, it comes across as at best naive, and at worst prejudiced. So, if you are a white American and find out that you are a tiny percentage African, don’t decorate your house with an ancient African tribal theme!
Rather, if you want it to be part of your home, design with that tiny percentage in mind. Include one or two nods to your minority ancestors, without making them a focal point. Ultimately, it should be the heritage you most strongly relate to that makes up the meat of your design choices.
But that doesn’t mean you should fill your house with ancestral decorations, either.
This is important for anyone in interior design, but especially so when you’re trying to work on a theme relating to your past. The reality is that we are living in 2019, not 1919, and your home should reflect that. You want it to be modern. You want it to reflect the newest styles.
Within this modern design, incorporate statement pieces related to your ancestry sparsely. Make sure that they make sense in the context of your overall design.
You can also make some of the most basic decisions within your modern theme using your heritage. If certain colors mean something to you, then incorporate that color into your theme. Just make sure you do it in a modern way, even if that means it can’t be as bright or showy as that of your ancestors!
You probably have a somewhat varied ancestry, and you may want to reflect that. However, clashing themes are never good, even if there’s meaning behind them. The good news is that all cultures have similarities, and you need to find these to integrate them into your home. You can do a great job of subtly incorporating a range of cultural symbols if they all fit into the color theme and aren’t going to become clutter.
Sometimes, going with a bold statement piece based on your heritage will be visually appealing, but if you’re trying to reflect multiple cultures, you’re going to run into problems.
Incorporating your heritage into your interior design is a great idea. After all, your home should reflect who you are. As long as you’re careful, you can avoid being tacky or downright offensive!
Photography: Laurey Glenn Photography.
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