Interior design

How to incorporate elements of travel, culture, into home decor


Washington Post New Service

On their blog, AphroChic (, Philadelphia husband-and-wife design team Bryan Mason and Jeanine Hays chronicle how they blend culturally relevant elements (African textiles, tribal statues) with modern decor. It’s a worldly yet approachable look they show off in their new book, Remix: Decorating With Culture, Objects and Soul ($30, Potter Style). We chatted with them about traveling, blogging and incorporating global decor into the home.

Q: Why did you two start blogging?

Jeanine Hays: In 2007, we had started AphroChic because we didn’t see that many home blogs that had cultural or diverse spaces in them. We wanted to tap into the kind of decor we do, using pieces from our travels and things that show our heritage.

Q: How has the Internet changed how we decorate?

JH: In a lot of ways, it made the world smaller. Globally, we’re all just so much more connected. You can go on Etsy and buy a beautiful item from Europe. And it’s also opened up the art-collecting world.

Q: Do men and women approach design differently?

Bryan Mason: Absolutely! I know for me, before starting the blog with Jeanine, I just needed a room to have four walls and a door. Now that we’ve been doing the blog and our line of pillows [sold via their website], it’s different. I'll find myself in a hotel lobby brutally criticizing its design!

JH: For us, I love beautiful things and he loves the history. It’s a good combo.

Q: How can people incorporate their heritage at home without making it look like a Pier 1 store?

JH: One key thing is, if you’re using a cultural piece, like a rug from Morocco or a feather hat from Cameroon, know what its significance is. You want to know its story. And if you use clean walls and clean lines to show off these finds, it’s a very modern balance.

Q: What’s the key to shopping for home decor when you are traveling?

JH: Bring a curatorial eye with you when you travel. Don’t buy every lamp in the bazaar or bring every kitschy thing back with you. Search for special pieces rather than tchotchkes.

Q: In the book, each of the homeowners’ spaces you feature has a soundtrack. How can I figure out the music for my space?

BM: We just asked our homeowners to give us the top five songs on their iPhones! But I think it’s really about deciding how you like to feel at home. If you’ve got a Caribbean heritage, maybe you want music from there.

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