Living Space: On the hunt for chic safari style

By Kathryn Weber
June 14, 2012 at 1:14 a.m.

The Safari style is as romantic on a porch as it is in a bedroom or living room. Bamboo  chairs add a rustic, natural touch.

The Safari style is as romantic on a porch as it is in a bedroom or living room. Bamboo chairs add a rustic, natural touch.

The British Colonial decorating style has a cousin in the re-energized Safari style. Today's Safari look is all about the lure of travel, cultural influences and nature-focused prints and textures - minus any guns or arrows.

Unlike British Colonial, which takes its influence from India to the Caribbean, Safari style remains focused on African themes, tribal patterns, flora and fauna. It looks effortless and relies on a collected appearance vs. a designed one.

Elemental style

Furnishings keep the Safari style from being too informal, while accents and natural elements lend an exotic, romantic allure.

Dark, dramatic wood furniture is balanced by natural elements of bamboo and other plant materials, animal patterns and hides, iron and stone - all elements found naturally in the African bush.

Baskets with natural limb handles, woven baskets and rugs with tribal patterns all speak to a natural earthiness. Fabrics that feature animal patterns or have a natural aspect to them, such as loosely woven linen, keep the focus on the outdoors.

African colors

The colors of Safari style are a reflection of the African landscape and feature colors found in nature: beige, gold, yellow, brown, tan, black and rust. Many of these shades are captured in Valspar's Safari color line, which includes versions of these colors, such as safari sun, safari beige or night safari.

Try using a single color for a background and then dot brighter and darker colors and animal patterns, such as zebra, giraffe, leopard or faux antelope skins as accents.

Safari touch

Pulling the look together is fairly straightforward. Wooden bowls, carved animal figures and picture frames, baskets and carved candle holders are all natural to the Safari look. Layer a bamboo shade behind drapes, toss woven wool textile throw pillows in a chair or sofa, and add tribal figures or masks on a wall to create a thoroughly Safari style. A small bamboo folding chair, leather strapped steam trunk, or campaign desk with small cubbies for letters all look at home here.

Be on the watch for rattan chairs, trays, or placemats for more inspiration. Top a dresser or chest with vintage postcards under glass and cover ceiling fans with palm leaf or wide wooden blades ( or stain a dark walnut hue. Soften a room corner with a burlap-covered folding screen, tall container of natural grasses or limbs, or drape mosquito netting from the ceiling.

The safari style is as romantic on a porch as it is in a bedroom or living room. The rustic influence and natural aesthetic are both relaxing and inspiring. Finding accents to incorporate into your decor is easy by scouting boutiques, home decorating centers, garage sales and flea markets.

In fact, a little wear and tear adds authentic appeal. Mix some natural grasses, twigs, or stems in a woven vase and your Safari look is complete. Think about the Safari style if your home cries out for a little decorating adventure.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website,



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