Over time you've developed a rich tapestry of places which have captured your heart and you've called home that you miss deeply. You’re proud of your cultural heritage but it feels (or is literally) very far away. Why not bring elements of your culture into your home as a celebration of all that is uniquely you? With a bit of planning and some lucky finds, you can create an environment that feels like home, even if home base is miles or continents away. Introducing culture to your decor keeps you connected to your roots.
Cultural diversity within a community is one of the things that makes it so special. Use all the places you have called home as inspiration for your interior design for an engaging way to embrace your past, present and future and share your culture with others. Your design elements can pay tribute to the history that brings your family together.
Your culture may be clearly defined or a loose collection of places your family have lived. Perhaps you identify with a culture from a place you’ve visited. It’s up to you to decide how you honour or showcase your own or adopted heritage.
Keeping the sights, sounds, or scents of your culture close can even help stave off homesickness. At times, we can feel alone when we’re far from our home country or ancestral community, missing family, friends, or traditions. It helps to have items of comfort and familiarity around.
Displaying cultural reminders in your home, apartment or dorm room also opens up conversations with family and friends, introducing them to things that are significant to you. Different cultural influences from a family blended through adoption, marriage or shared space can exist harmoniously within your home. Incorporating cultures, customs and traditions can help loved ones keep in touch with their own heritage while learning about and appreciating the origins of others, sparking meaningful conversations.
We’ve gathered some ways to inspire you to bring your culture alive in your home and day-to-day life.
Celebrate Your Culture at Home
There’s perhaps no better place to display your ancestral roots and favourite travel memories than adding representative touches to your home decor like art, tapestries, photos, furniture or lights. Every room of your home can play host to your heritage.
Change up colors, textures, patterns and materials in honor of your family’s past. Paint walls of your home in the traditional colours reminiscent of your home country, whether it’s where you are now or far away.
How to Add Cultural Elements to your Interior Design
Feel free to design your living space around your heritage or incorporate smaller ethnic elements. It’s up to you. Don’t worry if every piece of furniture, every painting, or every cushion is not authentically from your heritage. You can blend your present decor with cool cultural finds for a beautifully eclectic look.
You already have your own distinct style, but you can blend cultural decor with your existing theme. Add a piece of furniture to a corner or a wall-hanging above the sofa. Try to find a common thread to pull your space together, using colours, patterns, and scales of size.
You don’t have to transform your home overnight after watching a home decorating show. You can add a piece at a time, and move it around until you’re pleased with the placement. Try different combinations, and don’t be afraid to bring an intriguing ambiance to your space.
Concentrate on a focal point of each room and then choose a culturally influenced piece. If the piece is large, pair it with smaller companion pieces. Or, display a smaller cultural piece. You don’t want the space so busy and cluttered that important pieces are overlooked.
Rugs, Blankets and Tapestry Designs
Adding decorative rugs, blankets, baskets or wall accents like tapestries can bring a beautiful accent to your room. Fabric art creations can bring your space together beautifully and set a soft, textural tone for a delightful corner reading nook.
Tapestries, wall hangings and throw blankets are a great way to add a pop of color and pattern in a time-honored nod to your family’s culture. You can also find heritage-inspired embroidered or patterned cushions for sofas, beds or a window seat. Drape an embrodiered tapestry, shawl or scarf across the back of a comfy chair or use as a dining room table runner for a finishing touch.
Colorful, patterned rugs can embrace multiple cultures and remain as popular in today’s rooms as they were centuries ago. Center a piece of furniture like a table or bed on an eye-catching rug, or use one as a smaller accent piece that protects your floor from heavy traffic while adding a cultural element.
Expressive with endless possibilities, wall art is a fantastic way to show both your personality and culture. Group framed photos of your family creating a visual family tree going back as far as you can. Create a family project, asking your children to make a collage or art of how they perceive their heritage or arrange favourite souviners from your special places in box frames. Hallways or the walls of any room can become gallery space.
You can even extend your ethnic-inspired flair by choosing frames that mirror your culture. Look through local charity shops or online and mix or match colors, patterns and styles of frames.
Celebrate the artists of your heritage or places you have called home, display a sculpture or print from a local artist or the work of a talented family member, past or present.
Vintage Furniture & Objects
Introduce some cultural heritage to any room of your home with furniture elements that encapsulate your past. Ask family members whether they have any furnishings gathering dust or hidden in an attic or garage that they’re willing to part with. Whether it's an old dresser, a chair that needs recovering, a lamp, vase or old books and records, such furnishings have an added family history to cherish, and you can dress them up with modern touches.
Or, you can make a day of antique or charity store shopping, hunting for just the right piece that evokes memories, something you can upcycle or something that is unique that you just love the look of.
Clothing as Decor
For some cultures, ceremonial or everyday clothing evokes powerful emotions. You can bring those time-honored traditions to your home by repurposing traditional clothing as an element of your decor. Drape over a chair, hang on a wall or repurpose a dressmaker’s mannequin in a corner of your room.
You can also upcycle some favourite old clothes into new cushion covers for your sofa or chair. Check out vintage clothing stores or online stores for representative clothing you can turn into great conversation pieces.
Memory-Triggering Scents, Plants and Flowers
There’s nothing like familiar aromas to awaken your senses and perhaps bring a smile to your face. A scent can take you back to cherished family gatherings or remind you of a memorable trip. Scout stores or the internet for candles, reed diffusers or aromatherapy oils whose scents take you back to homes and places you've loved or inspiring trips abroad. Entering a room with the scent will be like a sweet, instant transport back there.
Music from your own culture can be the catalyst for recalling many beautiful memories or delving deeper into ethnic musical influences. You already have favourite musicians, singers and songwriters, but research artists from before your time who were the foundation for today’s music. When you’re feeling homesick, put on some music and let it envelop you in emotion, rhythm and dance.
Music to Your Ears
Music from your own culture can be the catalyst for recalling many beautiful memories or delving deeper into cultural musical influences. You already have favorite musicians, singers and songwriters, but research artists from before your time who were the foundation for today’s music. When you’re feeling homesick, put on some music and let it envelop you in emotion, rhythm and dance.
Cook your Favorite Traditional Dishes
One tasty way to alleviate homesickness and keep your culture alive is to cook family recipes, ones that remind you of home. There’s nothing like those familiar smells wafting from the oven or stovetop, and the anticipation of those flavors so dear to your taste buds.
Invite friends and family over for an evening of sharing each others favourite recipes from 'home'. You can even send your recipes ahead of time to swap and make, and each invitee follows the recipe and brings that dish to share. This is a meaningful way to introduce others to your culture and culinary traditions.
If you’re feeling wistful for traditions and customs from your family, embrace that need to connect. Read a favorite childhood book or watch a favorite movie. Kick back and enjoy the memories those familiar activities bring.
Invite friends over and introduce them to a traditional board game, craft or other activity that’s popular in your culture. Teaching others a new skill or game is a great bonding opportunity and a fun, engaging way to share customs.
Display Your Culture Proudly
Showcasing your culture, whether it’s with pottery, artifacts, art or furniture, adds a flair to your home decor or life while presenting the opportunity to share your family’s customs and traditions and keep your ancestral roots alive. Craft your own cultural haven at home, the perfect place to relax at the end of the day as you cherish your past while enjoying the present.