It’s Africa month this February at Paint + Pattern and it would be not be complete without a peek into the African style safari, still trending in home décor today.
First, let me share some background with you. What exactly is a safari?
The word safari means journey in Swahili and conjures up visions of wild animals galore, intrepid explorers in outback hats and local guides bravely leading the way. At the end of the day, they dine facing the glorious setting sun while lions grunt in the background and rushing river water lulls the tired explorers to sleep.
For most of us who watched Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa in the 1980s, the word safari hints at romance, exotic outdoor dining, adventure and exquisite locations. You can conjure up the elegance, sophistication and vitality made famous by Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in this movie’s set décor by reading Simply Safari.
Daryl and Sharna Balfour, authors of this tabletop book describe safari style as “a dynamic combination of primitive architecture and the high decorative style of early European explorers of Africa. Earthy color palettes, patterns and textures are paired with luxury and sensuality associated with the colonial safari. Roughing it can range from a tree-house camp or thatched bungalow to a lodge akin to a small luxury hotel”
This over-sized lavish volume features hundreds of photos from 26 lodges in several South African countries, including Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The text and extensive photos of each lodge will entice you to use African pieces to create inspired vignettes in a room, or even completely transform your home. From very modern to traditional rustic, you will be sure to find a look that will drive you wild.
Game preserves often feature open-plan lounges with fire pits and thatched roofs where meals are served and guests are one with nature.
Above, in the Phinda Private Game Preserve in Zululand, simple iron candelabras glow at the dinner table in Rock Lodge. Adobe walls, wooden beams and shutters are coupled with the unusual addition of Mexican lights for a very warm, inviting cozy look, that offer for great conversation starters.
At Singita Private Game Reserve above, dinner is served in a very elegant room featuring stacked stones to form walls, solid silver candelabra by Zimbabwean sculptor Patrick Mavros, and woven telephone-wire place-mats from Zululand artists Siyanda Weavers. Mudcloth draperies, framed etchings, dozens of books and old trunks are touches that complete the rustic safari look and can be easily replicated for your home.
After a long day of quad-riding, evening cocktails are enjoyed in camp chairs in the image above, at the Makgadadikgadi Pans’ Salt Flats. You may not have salt flats nearby, but a safari-style campfire in the backyard could give a relaxing end to the day.
Another peculiar African safari feature is the porch right off your tent. Sated with a good meal, stories shared by the day’s companions, retiring to the porch to watch the sunset is a glorious way to spend evenings. At Chief’s Camp in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, this wooden deck overlooking the river and surrounded by the sounds of wildlife is an experience to cherish. Simple camp chairs are typical of contemporary Africa and easy to recreate in any backyard.
Notice how the colored concrete steps leading to another outdoor space, in the image above, are graced with a very simple finger swipe through the wet mix to create an eye-catching pattern that also prevents slips. It’s so easy, any of the kids can do it!
Safari lodges are known for their luxurious beds, complete with mosquito netting which is not only romantic, but required for protection from insects and pests. In the bedroom above at Singita Private Game Reserve, dramatic bolsters covered in a Mali mudcloth are the only pattern in this room, where the shadows of nearby trees dapple the earthen floor. Soft textures in the sisal rug and rush roofing coupled with the canvas coverings encourage sleep, while lions roam in search of food and water and this leopard cub awaits his mom to bring him a meal.
No doubt, African safari design is relaxed, simple and earthy, sometimes combined with colonial grandeur. Natural textures from woven fabrics and rugs, animal print patterns, wooden accents, artwork and beautiful pottery are easy to find in order to adopt this decorative style. Many homeowners already possess plush animal print blankets and cushions, baskets and jute rugs that can help pull the room together.
A handy resource guide in the back of Simply Safari lists shops where inspired readers can shop for items similar to those in the book assemble their dream African style.
What elements of African design most excite you? For more reading on African interior design, visit African-Inspired Interiors on Paint + Pattern. Or if you are ready to jump into a paint and pattern project, check out our Kuba-cloth inspired art panel and have a blast creating your own piece!
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Abbeville Press Publishers