Celebrate your Culture Through Home Interior Design
by: Tamara Segal
You are proud of your ethnic heritage. Why not bring elements of your culture into your home as a celebration of all that is uniquely you. With a bit of planning and some lucky finds, you can create an environment that feels like home, even if home base is miles or continents away. Introducing culture to your decor keeps you connected to your roots.
Cultural diversity within a community is one of the things that makes it so special. Use your ethnic ancestry as inspiration for your interior design for an engaging way to embrace your past, present, and future and share your culture with others.
Your culture may be clearly defined or a loose collection of family influences and places your ancestors lived. Perhaps you identify with a culture from a place you’ve visited. It’s up to you to decide how you honor or showcase your own or adopted heritage.
Keeping the sights, sounds, or scents of your culture close can even help stave off homesickness. At times, we can feel alone when we’re far from our native country or ancestral community, missing family, friends, or our traditional way of life. It helps to have items of comfort and familiarity around.
Displaying cultural reminders in your home, apartment, or dorm room also opens up conversations with family and friends, introducing them to things that are significant to you.
We’ve gathered some ways to inspire your desire to bring your culture alive in your home and day-to-day life.
Celebrate Your Culture at Home
There’s perhaps not a better place to display your ancestral roots than adding representative touches to your home decor like tapestries, photos, art, furniture, or lights. Every room in your home can play host to your heritage.
Change up colors, textures, patterns, and materials in honor of your family’s past. Paint walls of your home in the traditional colors reminiscent of your home country, whether it’s where you are now or far away.
Different cultural influences from a family blended through adoption, marriage or shared space can exist harmoniously within your home. Incorporating cultures, customs, and traditions can help loved ones keep in touch with their own heritage while learning about and appreciating the origins of others, sparking meaningful conversations.
How to Add Ethnic and Cultural Elements to your Interior Design
Feel free to design your living space around your heritage or incorporate smaller ethnic elements. It’s up to you. Don’t worry if every piece of furniture, every painting, is not authentically your heritage. You can blend your present decor with cool cultural finds for a beautifully eclectic look.
You already have your own distinct style, but you can blend cultural decor with your existing theme. Add a piece of home country furniture to a corner or a wall-hanging above the sofa. Try to find a common thread to pull your space together, melding colors, patterns, and scales of size.
Whether your accent pieces exude whimsy or warmth, vibrancy or subtlety, let them illustrate your ethnic pride. Browse the internet or home decor magazines for inspiration, and shop import or thrift stores and flea markets for finds that might bring your room together.
Concentrate on a focal point of each room and then choose a culturally influenced piece. If the piece is large, pair it with smaller companion pieces. Or, display a smaller cultural piece. You don’t want the space so busy and cluttered that important pieces are overlooked.
Rugs, Blankets, and Tapestry Designs
Adding decorative rugs, blankets or wall accents like tapestries can bring a beautiful accent to your room. Fiber art creations can bring your space together beautifully and set a soft, textural tone for a delightful corner reading nook. Drape an ethnic tapestry, shawl, or scarf across the back of a comfy chair, or use it as a dining room table runner for a finishing touch.
Colorful, patterned rugs can embrace multiple cultures and remain as popular in today’s rooms as they were centuries ago. Center a piece of furniture like a table or bed on an eye-catching rug, or use one as a smaller accent piece that protects your floor from heavy traffic while adding a cultural element.
Tapestries, wall hangings, and throw blankets are a great way to add a pop of color and pattern in a time-honored nod to your family’s culture. You can also find heritage-inspired embroidered or patterned throw pillows for sofas, beds or a porch swing.
Expressive with endless possibilities, wall art is a fantastic way to show both your personality and culture. Group framed photos of a trip abroad or paintings that depict your ancestors. Create a family project, asking your children to make a collage of how they perceive their heritage. Hallways or the walls of any room can become gallery space.
Celebrate the artists of your heritage, Display a sculpture or print from an artist who represents your culture or the work of a talented family member, past or present.
Religion is historically intertwined in many cultures. Look for ways to incorporate religious symbols in your interior design. Whatever faith you embrace, organized religion or not, you can find a way to express reverence for that belief, whether your chosen symbol, statue, or art is subdued or stunning. It may be a painting of a religious scene, a treasured artifact from an important religious site, a Buddha statue, or a cross. You can hang religious symbols as tapestries, framed art, or stenciled images on walls or display a small tabletop accent piece.
Introduce some cultural heritage to any room of your home with furniture elements that encapsulate your past. Ask family members whether they have any furnishings gathering dust that they’re willing to part with. Such furnishings have an added family history to cherish, and you can dress them up with modern touches.
Or, you can make a day of antique store shopping, hunting for just the right piece that evokes memories of yesteryear.
Clothing as Decor
For some cultures, ceremonial or everyday clothing evokes powerful emotions. You can bring those time-honored traditions to your home by repurposing traditional clothing as an element of your decor. Drape over a chair, hang on a wall, or repurpose a dressmaker’s mannequin to anchor a corner of your room.
You can also sew material into throw pillow covers for your sofa or chair. Check out vintage clothing stores or online stores for representative clothing you can turn into great conversation pieces.
Memory-Triggering Scents, Plants, and Flowers
There’s nothing like familiar aromas to awaken your senses and perhaps bring a smile to your face. A scent can take you back to cherished family gatherings or remind you of a memorable trip. Scout stores or the internet for candles whose scents take you back to ancestral homes or awe-inspiring trips abroad or inland. Lighting one will be like a sweet, instant transport to the past.
Consider adding plants or flowers to your home, flower garden, or in pots for your porch, plants that may be native to where you’re from or reminiscent of your childhood. Having lived, breathing reminders of your culture can keep you connected to what’s important.
Music to Your Ears
Music from your own culture can be the catalyst for recalling many beautiful memories or delving deeper into ethnic musical influences. You already have favorite musicians, singers, and songwriters, but research artists from before your time who were the foundation for today’s music. When you’re feeling homesick, put on some music and let it envelop you in emotion, rhythm, and dance.
Cook your Favorite Traditional Dishes
One tasty way to alleviate homesickness and keep your culture alive is to cook family recipes, ones that remind you of home. There’s nothing like those familiar smells wafting from the oven or stovetop, and the anticipation of those flavors so dear to your taste buds. Invite friends and family over for an evening of sharing your ethnic cuisine, a taste of home. You can even send your recipes ahead of time, and each invitee follows the recipe and brings that dish to share. This is a meaningful way to introduce others to your culture and culinary traditions.
If you’re feeling wistful for traditions and customs from your family, embrace that need to connect. Read a favorite childhood book or call up a favorite movie. Kick back and enjoy the memories those familiar activities bring forth. Invite friends over and introduce them to a traditional board game or other activity that’s popular in your culture. Teaching others a new skill or game is a great bonding opportunity and a fun, engaging way to share customs.
Display Your Culture Proudly
Showcasing your ethnic culture, whether it’s with pottery, artifacts, art, or furniture, adds a flair to your home decor or life while presenting the opportunity to share your family’s customs and traditions and keep your ancestral roots alive. Craft your own cultural heaven at home, the perfect place to relax at the end of the day as you cherish your past while enjoying the present.
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