How an Artist Brought Multicultural Style to Her Victorian Home

Tapping into a rich history of influences, pattern designer Christine Joy Llewellyn Ohemeng weaves a decorative tapestry in her home.

Artist and surface pattern designer Christine Joy Llewellyn Ohemeng grew up amid an array of cultural influences. She was raised in Queens, NYC, by Caribbean-born parents, and her mom traveled the world working for the United Nations. "She went mostly to African and some Asian countries, and she always brought something back to decorate our house: rugs from Afghanistan, Indian textiles, beautiful African sculptures," Christine says. "I find myself being very drawn to those types of things."

When she was pursuing an arts degree, Christine spent time in Copenhagen studying Scandinavian design—an experience that continues to inform her aesthetic. Today, she brings her global-meets-modern look to her work, Christine Joy Design, (she designs artwork that companies like Gap, West Elm, and Minted buy and reproduce on fabrics, art prints, and products like stationery) and to the home she shares with husband Kwame and their three kids in South Orange, NJ.

christine joy llewellyn family crafts children husband table stools
Annie Schlechter

The home's period architecture gave Christine room to grow as a designer. Its multistory turret includes three round rooms: a family room on the main level, her daughter's bedroom on the second floor, and her home office on the third floor. That's a lot of curve, but she learned to work with the round shapes, floating furniture where it made sense and finding clever ways to anchor arrangements in others. Ultimately, Christine discovered that no matter its shape, a room's design is most successful when it's filled with things that have personal significance. "It's about your story," she says.

modern curved blue living room tree sofa fireplace glass coffee table
Annie Schlechter

Their Queen Anne Victorian home was well cared for, so Christine found she could gently update the look with her own style. She started with a palette of neutrals—black, plenty of white, and warm blues and pinks. She then accented the rooms with treasured objects like African baskets, reminders of a year she spent living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire) as a child. "Being a surface pattern designer, I love things that were made by hand. How much time and effort and labor went into making each of these pieces makes me honored to have them in the house," she says.

Christine swapped a flush-mount light for this sculptural pendant. "I wanted to play with roundness," she says of the curved room. "There's something beautiful about the globe lights reflected in a round mirror over the mantel."

midentury modern living room gray palette arched lamp wood tones
Annie Schlechter

The living room's soothing gray palette is warmed by wood tones in a pair of carved floor lamps, stacked logs, and decorative objects. A macramé wall hanging and soft, nubbly trim on the throw and pillows add cozy texture.

blue black dining room scandinavian chairs fireplace rug
Annie Schlechter

Christine pairs Scandinavian wishbone chairs with the simple dining table from their old Brooklyn apartment. She cherishes the sentimental value of every nick, scratch, and faded finish. The art above the console, below, is one of her own pieces inspired by modern architecture. "I love this geometric piece in our historical home," she says.

art study room dining table accent wall
Annie Schlechter

A black accent wall and trim play up the room's architecture. Christine uses this space to sketch patterns she licenses to retailers.

Christine started her career in finance then marketing before finally following her passion for creative work.

Christine Joy Llewellyn Ohemeng

Joy is that intangible feeling I get when I'm expressing myself through my art.

—Christine Joy Llewellyn Ohemeng
tween girl reading pink modern bedroom tent pouf fireplace
Annie Schlechter

A shade of creamy pink adds a blush of color to the walls in Tina's room. Christine played with circles here too. A polka-dot tepee, round pouf, and even subtle touches like bulbous dresser knobs and bed finials add playful style.

bright art studio classroom exposed wood
Annie Schlechter

The couple transformed a horse barn in the backyard into an art studio where Christine teaches classes. She kept the shell of the room neutral—white painted walls and cabinets, wood beams, and concrete floors—then added energetic color with stools, indoor/outdoor rugs (easy to hose off), and her own art. She shares her love of multicultural design with her children: Tina, 9, Gabriel, 8, and Louisa, 4. She credits husband Kwame for helping create this happy space. "I'm more cautious and a dreamer. He's a doer," she says.

Christine teaches block printing, indigo dyeing, tie-dyeing, weaving, marbling, screen printing, batik, and cyanotyping. Each technique includes a geography lesson on its place of origin as well as its history.

Stylist: Francis Bailey

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