B. Smith suggests decorating with unique showpieces and accessories; they give your guests something to talk about.
When it comes to color, expect to find more than just earth tones in B. Smith's home furnishings collections.
Don't be afraid to mix and meld styles, says Smith. Her latest line of furnishings marries Old Hollywood shapes (like this oval ottoman) with Afraisian colors like cream and brownish gold.
Designer and style maven B. Smith travels the world looking for inspiration for her designs and licensed product collections.
Global Color Inspiration
Think African-inspired style limits you to earth tones? Think again! "If you think about it, Africa is a continent surrounded by water," says Smith. "You have green in Africa; you have the desert; but there is water, too. Blue can be an African color."
Be in Style with B. Smith
Lifestyle expert B. Smith offers advice on achieving a fresh, eclectic décor.
- by Jennifer Sellers
Your style reflects who you are. For B. Smith, that means a lot of things. She's a businesswoman, style maven, designer, world traveler and collector. Her home's décor—and her branded lines of home furnishings, art, bedding, accessories and rugs—reflect a life of experience and adventure.
B.'s Style Evolution
"I get my worldview from a lot of different places," says Smith. "I was lucky enough to travel quite a bit when I was young, and that influenced my style."
Two locales that had the biggest impact on Smith were Asia and Africa. This led her to create her signature look, "Afrasian," which blends style elements—both popular and subtle—from the cultures and environments of the two continents.
All in the Family
Another driving force behind Smith's design philosophy is the creative eye she picked up from her parents, who she refers to as African-American (and married) Martha Stewarts of their time.
"I grew up with a mother and father who finished furniture, did antique shopping, took me to home shows and all of those kinds of things," she says. "My mother could sew anything. They recovered furniture themselves and were very creative."
"Fashion was my first career, and I incorporate that into my décor," says Smith.
Smith often links styling a wardrobe with styling a room, which is easily seen in her emphasis on accessories: "It's like with jewelry—when you leave the house without your earrings on, you don't feel put together. But when you have them, people notice your whole ensemble, your look. I think of home fashions as being the same way. When you have something that's interesting, that's eye-catching, people remember it and ask you where you got it.
"Home décor and fashion go hand in hand," Smith continues. "We're all about the way we dress, and design is all about how we dress our homes.
Go Global at Home
Not everyone has the style credentials of B. Smith, but anyone can create an eclectic, vibrant décor with her decorating tips:
- Focus on color and accessories: "I think these two things are the most important elements to a unique, pleasing design," says Smith. "You can have very basic furnishings but choose upholstery that taps into Asian colors—or maybe rugs that have a more African design."
- Don't be afraid to mix and meld styles: Smith says that her latest furnishings line marries Old Hollywood shapes (like a curved sofa and oval ottoman) with Afraisian colors like cream and brownish gold.
- Get inspiration from food and nature: "This season I used a lot of green. Some people might just see green when they look at a piece, but I see the inspiration behind the colors—apple green, olive green, kiwi green," says Smith, who is also a restaurateur.
- Seek out unique showpieces: "I like to look for vintage books ... so, for example, if I find one that's on Africa or a certain country in Africa," she says. "I can open it up to an interesting page and put in on a side table. There, it's a conversation piece for guests."
- Make your own art: Smith suggests framing items that are out of the ordinary, but go with a room's theme: "You can take a page out of an old book and frame it," she says. "Or, why not frame a piece of interesting fabric? I think a creative room is one that has a lot of eye candy in it."
- Go antiquing: "I encourage people to rummage; to know what's old and know what's new and put them together so that it's your style and has your imprint on it," says Smith. "One day at a yard sale, I found a great settee. It needed it a lot of work, so I took some African fabric I had collected and had it upholstered. Now that settee is in my living room."
- Think outside of the cultural box: Just because you're designing a room in an African style, doesn't mean you have to decorate with earth tones. "If you think about it, Africa is a continent surrounded by water," she says. "You have green in Africa; you have the desert; but there is water, too. Blue can be an African color."