Going Back to Your Roots: Infusing Design with Culture

This article will show you how to include the cultural elements in the design of your home.

1. A statement or Accent Pieces
There's no place like home. After a long, weary day, there's no place one would rather go to than at home. This is why it's imperative to have a home that will become your place of refuge, something you look forward to going home every day. A home should reflect much of who you are, your tastes, your personality and most importantly where you came from. With different design styles emerging here and there, there's a huge possibility that homeowners tend to forget to go back to their roots. Nothing can be homier than a home with a touch of your culture. It's easy to forget where you came from when the world is slowly being modernized with different technologies, but it is also vital for people to pay homage to their cultures by blending it into the design of their homes.

Some people think that bringing their culture into the design may overwhelm the overall design of the house. On the contrary, it becomes an accent to the room and makes a huge statement without having to give up style.

2. Architectural Details
Culture can be brought in with few architectural details. The Moroccan keyhole arch can replace an ordinary niche shape and if you're brave enough to take the risk, you can also use the design as your archways in your home. Japanese Shoji screens can be used as sliding doors, and intricately carved doors similar to those found in Balinese or Thai temples can really define your culture.

Laser cut MDF panels with a well-known pattern from your country of origin can also be custom-made and used as partitions or dividers in the house or as stair railings. Kitchen cabinets can have wire patterns on the doors instead of being a solid door.

A backsplash made up of colorful pattern tiles can bring life to an all-white kitchen. Think of the rich and colorful patterns of the Islamic-inspired Spanish tiles that you can use as a backdrop or that Greek Key border tile that can accent white brick tiles in your toilet. Whatever it is, there are ways to incorporate a little culture in the small details of your home.

3. Little Trinkets and Accessories
A house is dull and boring without its accessories and if you think bringing culture into your design by incorporating it in the architectural details of your house is extreme, start off with accessories. Arabic or Moroccan lanterns that are usually made of iron or copper casts beautiful shadows when lighted and can be used over dining tables. Paper lanterns pay homage to the cultures of those from East Asia. Paper lanterns painted with Cherry Blossoms or the Chinese Bamboo can be hung in a corner of a reading nook or a child's bedroom. Pottery and ceramics are another way of displaying your culture. Egyptian figurines like the Pharaohs or a Sphinx and small busts of Greek mythology gods can fill up an empty display cabinet. This is the time to fill that cabinet with Russian Matryoshka dolls, those little Dutch windmills, and Japanese Dolls or the cute cat figurines.

An array of African tribal masks and Japanese paper fans can liven up a plain wall and when arranged can make a beautiful gallery wall. You can hang a bundle of different sized Vietnamese conical hats or the Non La in one corner of the room. It's time to get out all those souvenirs from your hometown and display it loud and proud for everyone to see.

4. Traditional Textiles
Persian carpets have been always the kings of the carpet world and for a good reason. They are elaborately woven by tribes and carpet weaving is an integral part of Persian culture. To remind you of your roots, there's Kilim, a type of Persian carpet with geometric patterns, Berber carpet from North Africa, Flokati, a wool carpet from Greece and even Abaca carpets from the Philippines. And if these textiles aren't enough, there's also Otomi fabrics, made by the Indigenous Otomi people of Mexico. These usually feature colorful stylized animals and plants. Suzani, from Central Asia, can be used as upholstery, bedspreads or on throw pillows. Kantha is a quilt-like material made by rural women from India and Bangladesh. Aside from floors, rugs can be hung on walls as a centerpiece to a room. Small poufs that use some of these traditional textiles make for a fun living room. Instead of going for modern patterns, go ahead and make use of these traditional textiles that proudly boast of the intricacy, beauty, and history of your country.

5. Artwork
Paintings, calligraphies, and pictures can really show your roots. A painting of Buddha or Vishnu doesn't just show your culture, it also tells of your religion. Arabic, Chinese or Japanese calligraphy can be framed and displayed. Other things you can display are paintings of a place that reminds you of your hometown.

6. Furniture
You don't have to match all your furniture, but consider getting at least one accent piece that can blend in with all your other furniture. Chinese Chippendale chairs, Japanese Tansu Cabinet, and much more can even become conversational pieces for when guests come over.

Many homeowners worry that by infusing their cultures with the present design trend, the outcome might not be what they expect. However, in subtle ways, it can enhance the décor and show people where you came from. It's also a way to let your culture thrive and be embraced by your kids.

Another reason why culture should be incorporated into the design is because it's one way of making your religion or deepest beliefs visible throughout your favorite place, your home.

By embracing your culture, you are making it known to your family and friends that this is who you are and where you came from. Because you have infused your very own personal traits, styles and culture into your home, your home's design isn't just a style but also a décor that tells a story and boasts of a colorful history of you and your ancestors' past.

- Pile, John F. A history of interior design. Laurence King Publishing, 2005.

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Last review and update: August 27, 2018

About the Author

Patty Benjabutr is an interior design enthusiast. She loves to write about actionable home decor knowledge because she believes interior design content is something much more than a collection of beautiful photos. You can contact Patty via e-mail.