How to Bring African Influences to Mid-century Modern Style – Paulski Art

How to Bring African Influences to Mid-century Modern Style

The mid-century modern interior has become very popular over the last five years. This distinct beauty can bring people back in time thanks to their vintage appeal and the fact that most furniture is not mass-produced like it is today. A unique combination that works out beautifully with mid-century modern would be pairing it with African interior influences. It’s not as farfetched or difficult as you may think. These share many common elements from the dark carved wood, to the pops of color, and geometric patterns. If you’re looking into combining your love for mid-century modern with your appreciation for African cultures, then continue reading on for styling tips.

Color Palette

One of the first things you’ll want to do is look at the color palette of your space. In a typical African color palette, you’re going to find warmer tones such as hints of brown. However, the predominant colors will be burnt yellow and orange, terracotta, umber, burgundy, and various shades of green. These colors are reminiscent of the sun, and the nature of Africa such as the soil, sand, and plants. Having some of these colors will immediately help with achieving your end goal of having African influences within your space. These work great with mid-century modern furniture, especially if you’re looking for distinct furniture from or inspired by the 1970s.

Wood Details

One feature that you will see a lot in mid-century modern furniture and African furniture would be the wooden details. This common feature should be utilized because of how nicely they’ll both blend in together. Mid-century modern pieces have a lot of structure and clean lines thanks to the materials it’s made from such as oak, rosewood, and mahogany. Embrace the wooden details in your furniture decorative accents and allow them to take center stage. You can beautifully complement your mid-century furniture with an antique African stool, this handmade stool works beautifully when displayed next to a fireplace or on a shelf. With the dark-toned wood, it evens out all the bright and neutral colors in the room. 

Lighting Fixtures

Lighting will not only brighten up a space, but it directs us to where we should put our focus at. If you look at any dazzling rooms, you’ll notice this trend. . Bold lighting is a must-have to take your home into this very artistic era. Unique pendant lights are sculptural art that can be very functional as well. Natural material-made pendant lights such as those made out of elephant grass will give for a very unique African touch while still fitting into the theme of being mid-century modern. Many vintage stores have curvy and sophisticated designs readily available in a variety of hues. Just look around at pieces until you find one that calls your name, you don’t need to have everything matching, just a little bit of coordination here and there helps

White Walls

Most mid-century modern homes will have walls covered in white paint. This allows for the decorative accents and the furniture to take focus. During the period from the 1950s up to the 1970s, there was a great emphasis on showcasing the beautiful craftsmanship of furniture and decorative accents. This was right before the era of furniture becoming cheap and mass- produced. The white walls work wonderfully for displaying the neutral and warm colors of your African accents as well.

Wallpaper as a Fun Option

A fun option that can highly benefit the white walls and the structured lines of furniture would be a touch of color and design from wallpaper. Mid-20th century design did indeed have wallpaper, some of the selection included clean lines, strong graphic patterns, geometric shapes, and distinctive bold colors. This can be beautifully used by selecting a wallpaper that resembles that of designs African tribes used in their art and handmade goods. An example of this would be geometric shapes and other symbolism behind these stunning African patterns. There's far more than meets the eye when it comes to these patterns as they have a significance and a historical essence behind them.

Wall Accents

Other than wallpaper, decorative accents are one of the best ways to add personality and appreciation to a room. You can mix the accents with both modern-day and antique decorations. A striking and visually powerful object to hang on your wall would be a traditional African mask. The remarkable craftsmanship from the woodcarvings and the decorative patterns displays a strong tribal evocative power. The 1960s interior styling did help bring rise to the popularity of tribal masks to homes. Another idea could be framing a vintage-inspired prints or a beautiful portrait of a tribe.

Include a Bar

Built-in bars and bar carts scream nostalgic. These were very popular in the 1950s and the 1960s too. You can fill your bar with glasses, a cocktail shaker, a muddler, and expensive liquors. To give it an African-inspired touch, you can add some textiles such as a tapestry, a statue of a safari animal, or even just a warm color folded tea towel for a more subtle look. This bar little certainly allows you to step back in time while you sip away at your martini.


Textiles are a marvelous way to accomplish your end goal of crossing the 20th-century interior with African art. Using the right fabric and textiles will add some dimension and variety to your home. This can be animal hide rugs, something that was tremendously popular in the 1970s, draperies, carpet, or even something as small as a zebra pillowcase. There are loads of options to bring coziness and color into your home.


Just like a statement piece on a wall, you’ll want to add art elsewhere in the room too. This can be something as simple as having an African handmade basket as a centerpiece to your coffee table, or maybe even a sculpture that can be nicely displayed on a shelf. Statement pieces are excellent choices as they are often big and bold, so this is also something that you can try going for. Just avoid having too much décor in your home or else it will look cluttered, which is the opposite style of 20th-century interior.