Once you see the Robert Redford, Meryl Streep film “Out of Africa,” the romance of a high-end safari camp bedroom is clear.
Then again, it may already be clear — photos tell stories, too. For me, the appeal is using the organic, informal look of an African safari camp bedroom based on the textures and light, natural colors used in warm climates. Three gorgeous upscale safari hotel rooms in Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa provided ample inspiration when they crossed my desk.
So many aspects of home decor — colors, textures, surfaces — are based on place. We’ve seen that in our various beach house, lake camp, and fishing lodge posts. For African-inspired bedrooms the leitmotif is a gauze or net-draped beds — required to screen out insects at night. Elsewhere, these draperies are custom but not impossible for an experienced person to create at home. Some ready made bed netting is available but I can’t vouch for the quality.
It was, however, surprisingly easy to find furniture and accessories to recreate the feeling of these sweet spots. A new villa built with families in mind opened earlier this year. One of the bedrooms [top] includes a private terrace and panoramic views of Serengeti National Park. Stays at Mkombe’s House Lamai are available through Nomad Tanzania.
An inspired look would be helped along by the Zelda embroidered pillow [left] ($22.99, Wayfair.com) has a similar palette to the custom fringed pillow on the bed. A handcrafted South American fringed cotton throw [center] ($564, Wildflower organics ) would serve as a very similar light weight bed cover. And Dash and Albert’s Jute Ticking Indigo Woven Rug [right] ($420 for the 5×8’ size) introduces the contrast of natural fibers against a white-stained floor.
A small stone fireplace and modern black washstand shows how the classic South African property Singita Ebony Lodge in the Sabi Sand Reserve has been refurbished by Boyd Ferguson, a designer from Cape Town. Each suite has a glass front and private plunge pool. I love the way the ebony theme is played with black painted pieces, especially the bed and beside table as well as the sink vanity.
Furnishings here are somewhat urban. There’s the iconic leather-bound mirror in the style of Jacques Adnet, rechristened as the Captain’s Mirror [center] by bddw (about $1600). A DIY version (Notorious Badger/Etsy mirror kit about $200) would do as well over a sink vanity. Painting a thrift-shop or house sale 4-poster black could produce an a bed similar to Singita’s, provided it has turned legs. There’s also the St. Regis four-poster [left] ($859.99, wayfair.com). Did you notice the funky leopard-covered easy chair peeking out from behind the white curtain? It has a white hat and scarf thrown over the arm. A leopard slipcover is the common sense solution since animal print chairs tend to get a little crazy. This French style, Ellie Exposed Wood chair [right] ($672, Home Gallery stores) is one of the saner choices. But a slipcovered leopard-print easy chair is a thrifter’s dream, I think.
Tented rooms at Amanzi, Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, on the Zambezi River, overlook a massive wildlife sanctuary. Netting screens the open walls and grommeted white curtains slide closed on steel rods to provide privacy. Closer to a camp than a hotel, the rooms have a mix of earth and floral colors bracketed by natural canvas.
White grommet curtains have been a mass market staple. Many retailers offer these panels in cotton and cotton-linen blends like the Emery Linen/Cotton Grommet Drape ($109-$160, Pottery Barn). The pretty embroidered African runner on the foot of the bed is a lovely textile. A Kuba cloth runner I found at an etsy boutique ($70, 17” x 5’, etsy/AfroBedia) would be similar on a plain white duvet bed cover. Earth-tone flat-woven area rugs are made in many countries. The Turkish Gianna Outdoor Kilim ($59-$849, Pottery Barn) nails the same elegant, but utterly simple, feel in the rugs at Amanzi.
Each of these safari camp bedrooms is so exotic and specialized I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find key elements to reflect their spirits. But home décor retailers are traveling the world to find furniture and accessories that fulfill our every fantasy.
(Source: nomad-tanzania.com, singita.com, anabezi.com)
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