The Blog: AphroChic
Behind the Blog: Jeanine Hays

When I received word that Domino magazine, the home decor magazine for the young, smart and stylish folded forever, only one word could describe the way I felt. Frigid! Another well written magazine that catered to my lifestyle gone for good. Great! But soon after Domino’s demise, I came across AphroChic, the blogspot of modern, soulful style. Happy days are here again!

Convinced by the funky name, it was the aesthetics of the blog that drew me in. Bright, eye-popping and eye-pleasing furnishings, art deco, and everyday stylish things for the home as well as fashion. As I read on, I was hooked! Jeanine’s got an eye for detail and an in on all the hotness for home.

Moving beyond the blog, in early October, Jeanine will be introducing her own chic line of sustainable pillows and apparel at DesignPhiladelphia.

Meet Jeanine

Lavish: Thankfully, I stumbled upon your blog just after the demise of Domino magazine. What inspired you to start AphroChic?

I started AphroChic two years ago because, like you, I love interiors! Interior design is on my mind 24/7, and after talking about Thomas Paul pillows, Eames loungers and Ghost chairs with my wonderful husband who listened attentively for many years, he encouraged me to start a blog and connect with others in the decor community. The blog was born, and now two years later we have over 15,000 visitors a month and visitors from every part of the world.

Lavish: You have such an eye for detail. Have you had the chance to create a space for someone else?

AphroChic: I haven’t yet, but it’s something I’m looking forward to doing. Expanding AphroChic to interior design services is definitely a dream. Currently, I consult for friends and family who are decorating their spaces. As AphroChic continues to grow, I hope to begin designing residential spaces.

Lavish: I imagine your house must be immaculately decorated. What’s your favorite room and why? My favorite room is the living room.

AphroChic: It’s the room that I spend the most time in and where I do a lot of blogging. It took two years to get it just right, and now it is the perfect space to relax in and entertain. The decor is not over the top, but is just right. There’s plenty of seating, light, and a lot of global touches like a set of paintings I bought on travels to Chile and my Juju hat from the Cameroon.

Lavish: Are there any creations that you’re particularly proud of?

Right now I am most proud of the AphroChic pillow collection that is set to debut October 1st. Putting together a collection has been a wonderful experience. I have always been a little pillow-obsessed, and this collection was an opportunity for me to create something that truly reflects the modern soulful style mantra that guides AphroChic. It has been wonderful to create something that’s my own vision. There is such a feeling of satisfaction seeing it all come together.

Lavish: What is your dream project?

My dream is to purchase a beautiful space in the country that I can renovate and turn into a bed and breakfast. It would be an opportunity to design a complete home and share it with interesting visitors. I would love it!

Lavish: Do you refurbish furniture?

Not yet. It’s something AphroChic is looking to do in the future. I would love to see some AphroChic designs on antique Louis XIV chairs and settees.

Lavish: Who are your favorite interior decorators?

AphroChic: I find Ilse Crawford so inspirational. She creates spaces that tell a story. It is a true gift, and something that I admire. I’m also a fan of White House interior designer Michael S. Smith. His rooms have a sense of history. I also love Sheila Bridges. She uses color so beautifully. Her rooms are truly personal spaces

Lavish: Many of our readers are based in New York. Do you have any advice on beautifying seriously small spaces while making them appear bigger?

AphroChic: New Yorkers have such wonderful style. My sister recently moved from a 250 square foot apartment in Brooklyn that she had decorated beautifully. My small space rule – throw the rules out! Small spaces should be decorated like any other space – they should be made to feel warm, have great furnishings, and be decorated beautifully. There are those who say stay away from color in a small space. I absolutely disagree. A feature wall covered in fabulous wallpaper print or a bright pop of color will bring your small space to life. Furniture should be the appropriate size for the room. So many people go miniature in a small space, making it feel even smaller. Don’t be afraid to have a full bed or coffee table, but make sure that furniture can function for different tasks. A day bed that also works as a sofa when guests come over is just perfect. And a coffee table can easily turn into a dining area with a few poufs around. Mirrors can make a small space feel larger, but it doesn’t have to be that wall full of mirrors that many apartment buildings have. Instead a mirror in an entry, over the sofa or in the dining room can help to bounce light around the space. In the end, whether the space is small or big, it should have a sense of personal style and that’s where the decorative items come in. Well-edited collections combined by a common shape or color can add a personal touch to a small space without being overwhelming.

Lavish: What are some of your favorite places to shop when looking for unique pieces?

AphroChic: I love to shop at Anthropologie. I love their home section and can always find something that stands out. I’m also a fan of local San Francisco shops that have unique items like Jeremy’s and of course the Alameda Flea Market. I also look at window displays. Two of my favorite pieces at home were used in a window display at a local San Francisco shop. I walked in and asked if I could have the display pieces once they were done using them, and got them for free! You never know where you’ll find something special.

Lavish: It’s back to school time, and for many college students living in a dorm room is equivalent to sardines in a can. How can two different people who share a small space both express their individual styles?

AphroChic: If you’re lucky enough to have a roommate you can decorate with (I was never so lucky) then I think it comes down to starting with an agreed upon color scheme. If you can agree on something like decorating in yellow and grey, even if someone likes traditional and the other person is a little more edgy, a common thread like color can help to bring the whole look together.

Lavish: Where would you recommend someone with a small budget put their resources to make a room on the shabby side a bit more fab?

AphroChic: If you have a small budget, it’s important to start with the basics – seating, tables, and lighting. These pieces don’t have to be expensive, but they should complement one another so that the space feels cohesive. Then, after you have your basics layer on a few accessories to make your room feel like home. Even with a small budget, simple vases like ones available at CB2, colorful throw pillows and an inexpensive set of picture frames can make a space feel beautifully decorated.

Lavish: So I see that you not only blog about interior design, but fashion too. You’re even working on some fashion of your own.

AphroChic: Can you tell us about more exciting things to come? Well, the most exciting thing is the launch of AphroChic’s new shop! Our new website will be up on October 1st and will feature a collection of sustainable pillows in four different prints. Our pillows come in beautiful Belgian linen and silk and each one is made to order. They are sure way to add a little luxury to the home. We will also have a small t-shirt line of 100% cotton and organic tees so that everyone can now sport modern soulful style whenever, wherever. We will be holding an official launch of our new product line at DesignPhiladelphia on October 10th at Design Within Reach. Everyone is invited!

Visit Jeanine Hays’ blog

Arlice Nichole