How to Decorate Ethnically

While it is hard to control what happens in the outside world, home is where you decide the who, what, where, when and why. Ethnic decor is filled with endless options to spice up your living space. However, you may wonder, what is ethnic decor.

“Ethnic decor is more a feeling than a science,” says Marcelo Velez of the interior design firm Velez Hayes in New York City. “When you say modern, country, French, et cetera, an instant picture comes to mind. Ethnic decor is different. Many cannot define it, but know it when they see it.”

This open-ended approach is what makes ethnic decorating fun. It’s eclectic, inclusive, colorful and most of all, unique. It allows you to fill in blanks for yourself, using an internal palette to satisfy decorating needs.

Here are some handy ideas to get you started:

  • Pick a room to start. Thinking in terms of one room narrows your scope so the project doesn’t seem overwhelming, while also limiting cost as you feel your way into the project.
  • Decide which ethnicity(ies) you will focus on: African style is different from Middle Eastern is different from American Indian, et cetera. However, don’t be afraid to blend elements from several cultures. Again, that’s the fun of ethnic decor – the possibilities are endless.
  • Start with an object as the focal point and decorate around it: This can be an ethnic painting, a sculpture, a piece of furniture, et cetera. The bigger the better. Be careful, though, not to overwhelm your space.