If you’re not big into colour, you might think global decor isn’t for you. If this sounds like you, it’s time to think again. Adding pieces from around the world – whether gathered on your travels or sourced from an ethical homeware boutique – is one of the easiest ways to make your home stand out from the hum-drum high-street crowd. Read on to see the best real-life examples, with tips for creating a contemporary ethnic look without straying from a black and white colour palette.
Mud cloth (‘bògòlanfini ‘) is an ancient African method of decorating textiles using a fermented mud resist technique on hand-loomed cotton. Traditionally, the men are responsible for weaving the fabric and the women take charge of the dying. The symbolic patterns are passed down through generations and no two pieces of genuine mud cloth will be exactly the same. ‘Genuine’ is the important term here – beware of mass-produced imitations that have none of the authenticity, character and history of the real mud cloth, most of which is made in Mali. Mud cloth only comes in black and white, so is the perfect way to add tribal patterns to your monochrome room with cushions and throws.
Moroccan decor is another style that lends itself to a monochrome room scheme. Classic Moroccan elements such as beni ourain rugs, patterned encaustic tiles and hand-painted ceramic tea glasses all traditionally come in black and white. Moroccan decor is usually quite heavy on pattern but, by sticking to monochrome designs only, you can be sure the overall look will remain contemporary and sophisticated.
The global elements you add to your home don’t have to be a permanent fixture. One really simple way to give your home a dramatic tropical twist is to add giant plants in pots. Not only will they soften hard lines, which are so often the downfall of a monochrome room, they’ll help purify the air as well. For maximum drama, choose over-sized plants like Fiddle Leaf Fig, Monstera (cheese plant), Schefflera (umbrella plant) or Bird of Paradise. If you’re short on space, trailing plants like Philodendron and String of Pearls suspended in macrame hangers or placed on high shelves will look equally impressive as they tumble.
If you’re concerned about your monochrome room looking boring I have one word for you: texture, texture, texture. Global pieces really come into their own here as you can draw on a host of unusual natural materials and layer them to create interest without colour. Seek out natural fibre rugs made from jute and hemp, baskets made from sisal and seagrass and beautiful woods like acacia and bamboo to soften your black and white decor. For inspiration and product ideas, head to the Decorator’s Notebook shop where you’ll find natural global homeware galore, all handmade by fair trade artisan groups around the world.