Thursday, June 7, 2012

Out of Africa Style

Perhaps one of my all-time favorite movies is Out of Africa, the 1985 romance/adventure/drama based on the autobiographical book by Danish writer Isak Dinesen (otherwise known as Karen Blixen). The film has it all - epic love story, picturesque landscapes, beautiful soundtrack, incredible interiors, and of course, Redford and Streep.

Blixen house in house in Nairobi
Set in 1914, much of the film takes place at the Blixen home at the foot of the Ngong Hills in Kenya. The late production designer Stephen Grimes and his crew renovated the existing farmhouse (Blixen's original home) along with the designs for the Kikuyu village, Muthaiga Club (where Karen married) and the town of Nairobi. Grimes worked from vintage photographs and original construction plans to authentically construct both interiors and exteriors -- a process that took almost a year.

Set decorator Josie Mac Avin searched the Kenyan countryside for many of Blixen's antiques which were sold at the time of her bankruptcy. Antiques, paintings, and household items from her native Denmark were hard to come by in Africa so items had to be shipped from all over Europe. The result was a wonderful British meets Danish meets shabby chintz and tribal type of look that can only be known as Out of Africa Style.

For your own Out of Africa look, check out Decorative Carpets new Tribal collection, a wonderful line of hand-knotted rugs inspired by organic tribal patterns. Made from wool, hemp, and silk, the line recently launched in May and can be found at their West Hollywood location. Seven styles in all, the versatile rugs can complement just about any style. I am particularly partial to Makeda as it's a nice alternative to traditional leopard patterns.







Streep as Blixen

Photo Credits: Universal Pictures, Decorative Carpets


  1. Thanks for reminding us of both this wonderful film and its sets. Knowing the backstory makes it even better! When it first appeared it was the inspiration for newly acquired home's interior design, and I look back on that time as one of my favorites here.

  2. I loved this movie so much back then and dressed like the movie for quite a few years...khaki skirts, floral shirts and lots of lace with boots. My apartment had plenty of chintz and lace too....It's till a beautiful movie. I used to love say "Stay away from my limoge!" or "I had a farm in Africa."

  3. I will always think of "I had a farm in Africa" when I think of this movie. I think Ralph Lauren had alot to do with the style of this film as well.

  4. The art direction/set decoration for 'Out of Africa' must rank as one of the all-time greats. Like 'The Great Gatsby' inspired Ralph Lauren's clothing lines, this film's decor was reflected in his home furnishings lines of sheets and fabrics.