Have you ever decorated a corner of your home just like a Pinterest board, only to find that in the end it was… missing something? I spoke with Jeanine Hays of the design duo AphroChic about this, and while she admits that Pinterest is wonderful for inspiration, home is all about who we are. “In a fast-paced world where many of us spend more time traveling or working outside of the home,” she said, “when we do get to sit back and relax in our space it’s important that it reflects us.” Our homes should be a restorative space, “And a place that doesn’t speak to you – who you are, how you live, what you love – will not help in nurturing you. We believe that your home should tell your personal story and that no two spaces should look alike. It should be completely tailored to who you are.”
What advice do you have for someone who doesn’t have a clear idea of what their “story” is or how they want to communicate that in their home?
We like to begin with elements. When working with new clients we ask them – what does your home sound like? What does it smell like? What do you want to use your home for? The answers to these questions all help us to come up with a starting point for the design of the interior. It’s important that home address all the senses, and that’s where we like to begin.
Are there any go-to design elements that you use to help make a beautiful space feel more personal?
The best spaces have layers of elements that make them feel soulful and personalized. We love color, global pieces, pattern and art. As long as all of those elements are present in a room, it will begin to come alive and feel like a personal space.
What are your favorite sources for finding pieces that have soul?
Sometimes we like to create our own products, like our paint line and pillows. As interior designers, it’s fun to create products that are custom for a specific project, but that we can later offer to a wider audience. That’s how our paint line came about, as we began mixing custom colors for clients, and then thought, let’s come up with a palette of twenty shades that can be offered to a wider audience.
We also like to explore the work of friends. For art, identifying pieces from up-and-coming artists is always fun. We go to sites like Uprise Art, Pure Photo and Saatchi for that. We are into artisan pieces, and enjoy the work of designers who work with their hands, like Egg Collective or Christian Dunbar Design. For global objects, it’s wonderful to source items from local markets in the city, or overseas vendors. We’ve always been big fans of Maryam Montague’s selection of Moroccan rugs.
You have a way with patterns and color, can you tell us about how you use those as a tool for expression?
Thank you! We are very inspired by color. It’s a big starting point for us in the design of any room. When we developed our Brooklyn In Color paint collection, it was a fun way of self-expression. Developing twenty shades that are truly reflective of AphroChic. Color is emotional. It evokes a feeling, a memory, a place, a time. It’s important, even if you’re trying that perfect shade of white, or pale pink. For our shades, each one has a smoky gray beneath it, creating a lot of depth. What’s fun about color is what it can do. It can transform an environment so completely.
As we head into the holidays, what are your favorite ways to spruce up your home for guests?
We have a tendency to go over-board during the holidays. Decorating the mantel, putting up a 7-foot tree and making the entire apartment look like a winter wonderland. It’s all about having fun with holiday elements and being as playful as possible. We love to entertain during the holidays, and always make sure to have small gifts on hand for guests. Stockings filled with candles and candy are always around for when friends come over. It’s nice to have hosting gifts at the ready during the season.
Photo of Jeanine Hays and her husband Bryan Mason in their Brooklyn home by Patrick Cline, painting by Damien Davis on Uprise Art, chair West Elm, leaf painting Jungalow, rug Maryam Montague, silhouette pouf AphroChic, side table World Market, Juju hat Oldworldshoppe, yellow sofa LexMod
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