Modern Ethnic Style


I’m not sure if it’s my South African roots coming out, but I am digging the ethnic vibe I’m seeing everywhere at the moment. Have you noticed the ethnic trend around shops and online too? Grass baskets, natural elements, wooden sculptures, woven detailing, monochrome colour palettes and graphic prints are a big thing right now and I am liking it. I have several ethnic elements in my own interior from time spent in South Africa – where I was born and grew up – and have been into modern bohemian style for a while now (remember this post?) which is similar in it’s nature inspired simplicity. To keep my home looking personal and textured but not like an African hut, I like to balance out the ethnic with clean lines, contemporary and design elements. Here are some lovely examples of contemporary homes that are rocking the modern ethnic style.


Modern ethnic style is all about balancing texture, simplicity, nature, pattern and colour. It is earthy meets modern minimalism. Creative ethnic techniques such as weaving, printing, sculpting and knotting applied to earthy materials such as wood, grasses, pottery, terracotta, ceramic and bamboo harmonise with clean spaces, minimalistic styling and sleek surfaces, resulting in a contemporary yet textured aesthetic for the home.


MODERN ETHNIC STYLE | Making it work in your home

Subtlety is key to decorating with ethnic elements if you want to achieve a balanced look that is contemporary and light with bold natural details. Being selective with which items you bring into your home will ensure the ethnic elements lend the graphic touch that makes a space go BOOM without overwhelming the space – a striped Moroccan blanket or African mudcloth pillows (like the ones I used in this bedroom project), a couple of African woven trays or baskets, or a bold rug with an ethnic pattern on it. Accessories and artefacts are what this look is all about, but they don’t literally have to come from Africa to have the ethnic vibe. Lots of nordic brands are emanating ethnic patterns and colour ways in their products but a nod to ethnicity remains, as you can see in many of the images below.









What do you think of this look? Do you find it tough to add ethnicity to your interior without going overboard? I photographed a very contemporary renovated farmhouse this week that had loads of gorgeous accessories and artefacts brought back from trips to Africa, Morocco, Turkey and Sri Lanka and in their modern, clean-lined context they were so beautiful. Will be sure to show you what I mean soon once I have the images ready.

In the meantime, I am madly preparing classes for the upcoming Blogging your Way ‘BLOG POWER’ e-course I am co-teaching with Holly Becker and Irene Hoofs starting next week (enrolling is still possible).

And there are still a couple of spots left for the styling and photography workshop I am hosting on 16 April here in The Netherlands with Hanke Arkenbout and Ajda Mehmet. A busy month and lots more news too share, all in good time.


Image sources: 1. living 2. kitchen 3. carpet 4. living 5. bedroom 6. easy chair 7. project K 8. chairs 9. living 10. chair 11. living | Editorial assistance: Malou Muizer

5 Responses to “Modern Ethnic Style”

  1. Brooklyn W. says:

    Ah! All those pillows! 😀 <3 <3 <3

  2. Love this post. I use a series of woven baskets above my bed, but I spray them with a light coat of paint to tone down the ethnic vibe just a little. 😉 Kath

  3. Miranda says:

    Hi Holly,
    Just re reading my notes on last week’s Blogging You Way course- very useful and encouraging, thank you. I really wanted to say I just LOVE that picture of the little Ape (can’t do acute accents) van with the baskets, it just makes me laugh so much!

  4. Love it. <3 the mixture of modern and ethnic design is simply amazing.

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