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How to Decorate Ethnic: An Easy 5-Step Plan to Getting the Ethnic Look You Want for Your Home

Updated on February 27, 2010

Ethnic home décor offers endless options to spice up your living space. There mango wood vases, wooden sculptures and masks, African carvings, handcrafts, etc. While most know what ethic décor is when they see it, it can be hard to grasp how to pull this look together.

This is because, according to former New York City interior designer and architect, Marcelo Velez, "Ethnic decor is more a feeling than a science.” Explaining further, he states:

When you say contemporary, southwestern, French, et cetera, an instant picture comes to mind. Ethnic decor is different. Many cannot define it, but know it when they see it.

This open-ended approach is what makes ethnic home décor so much fun. It’s freeing to create this style because of its eclectic, inclusive, colorful and most of all, unique style. You are the one in charge, you fill in all the blanks, using an internal palette to satisfy your personal decorating needs.

Here are five ethnic home decorating guidelines to get you started.

1. Select a room to start: When you take it room by room, it narrows your scope so that the project doesn't seem overwhelming. It also limits costs as you “feel” your way to into a project initially.

2. Decide which ethnicity(ies) you will focus on:African style is different from Southwestern is different from American Indian, is different from Balinese. et cetera. All of these are ethnic. But, they are distinctly different.

HOWEVER, this doesn’t mean you need to be afraid to blend elements from the different cultures. Again, that's the fun of ethnic home decor -- the possibilities are endless.

3. Start with an object as the focal point and decorate around it:This can be anything, eg, an ethnic painting, a wooden sculpture, an silk wall hanging, a wooden stool, et cetera. The bigger the object the better. Why? Because it draws attention, which is the objective of a focal point.

Proceed with caution though. Be careful not to overwhelm your space.

4. Choose a color scheme: Ethnic decor is very festive, so think outside the box in terms of colors, patterns, surfaces. Soon, you will find yourself drawn to a few colors that work well together.

Note: Color is only part of ethnic home décor. You can still achieve an ethnic look without the use of color, eg, by using objects like rugs, masks and furniture that exude this style of décor, but have earth-tone palettes.

5. Pay attention to your likes and dislikes when it comes to ethnic home décor. And, trust your instincts. Many times, an object or color will "speak" to you. And, if everyone insists that this painting doesn't go with that rug, but you like it, go with it. The final product should make you the happiest. Now, relax and enjoy!

See some ethic home accessories below.

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