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Kindred Spirits: A Styling Series With Malene Barnett

"I love contemporary objects, whether it's furniture or lighting made from natural materials in organic shapes. They work perfectly with my modern tropical-inspired home." – Malene Barnett

As a multidisciplinary artist, Malene Barnett's design style blends modern concepts with traditional techniques, patterns, and colors. Her new Kindred Collection was designed for people to embrace African culture from a diasporic lens, focusing on stunning patterns, rich textures, and nature-inspired colors. So, we asked her to share how her artistic style influences the spaces and decor pieces she uses to curate her modern tropical-inspired home. Read on for her suggestions when mixing and matching color, a few of her favorite Lulu and Georgia products, and a few things to know when styling her new Kindred Collection into your home.

What is one thing you want all of your customers to know about your Kindred Collection?

The wallcoverings are multidimensional. They are not your average wallpaper with a flat surface. My desire to make these pieces tactile and touchable stems from my work in textiles and ceramics, which has always been a multidimensional experience. The textured surface of the wallcoverings, invites you to come close to the surface and feel connected—not just to the patterns but also to the materials. And it inspires you to want to add those different textures into your home.

When it comes to prep, installation, or cleaning, what should customers know when purchasing a piece from your collection?

There are a few general guidelines to follow when adding these pieces to your home. The first is to measure everything—more than a few times to be safe! The second is to hire a professional for the installation. I love how these pieces offer tons of texture and pattern, and you will want them properly installed to be able to engage and connect with them. When it comes to cleaning, they are all washable and can be wiped with a damp cloth.

What are the foundational elements that would perfectly support your Kindred Collection, from choosing different materials to playing with color palettes?

The beauty of this collection is that you are not limited by material or color options. You can pretty much select your favorite color palette and easily curate it with these wallcoverings. My work, specifically the ceramic vessels this collection is based on, explores the idea of creativity as a liberatory practice. And my hope for these pieces is that you use them to evolve your home into a creative space, one where you feel free to experiment with color and texture.

 

Any styling tips for complementing your lighter-toned wallpapers?

I'm of the opinion to add as much pattern and color as you like. Anything goes with the Malou, Heritage, Mosaic, and lighter-toned Bequia wallcoverings. The chalky white tones, warmer neutrals, and light blues create this inviting color palette that adapts well to different looks and styles. You can pair one of these pieces with an airy, vintage-inspired chandelier in the dining room. Or, you can opt for styling a lighter-toned wallpaper in the living room and complement it with a soft-pile rug, like the Uma Rug.

 

Similarly, any styling tips for complementing your darker-toned wallpapers

Jewel-toned colors look great against a dark backdrop. If you're looking to add the darker-hued option of the Bequia Wallpaper into your bedroom, I love the idea of balancing out its indigo tones with a sunny, golden duvet cover. Pairing these two with some neutral furniture pieces creates this super comforting, meditative space. Or, if you're styling that pattern into your living room, add a plush vintage rug featuring gemstone-inspired colors. For the Alaari Wallpaper, don't hesitate to emphasize it with ruby red hints, like a wall art print. I think the two play well off of each other.