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Making your home a welcoming retreat is June Reese’s strong suit

by Terri Schlichenmeyer —

The sofa will go over there.

Sitting slightly away from the edge of a rug, flanked by two chairs at an angle to the fireplace, it’ll be the focal point of the room. Add the right paint and that plushy blanket you bought on vacation last year, and you’ll never want to leave.

Making your home a welcoming retreat is always a goal and in the new book “Iconic Home” by June Reese, BID, you’ll welcome some fresh ideas.

“Iconic Home: Interiors, Advice, and Stories from 50 Amazing Black Designers” by June Reese, BID, foreword by Amy Astley; c.2023, Abrams; $50; 255 pages

As a young girl growing up in Texas, June Reese wished for a way to make her passion for art into a career. Few opportunities existed, “not many career paths,” but she saw design school as a way to her dreams.

Still, it was hard and she thought about picking a different career until she met designer Kimberly Ward, founder of the Black Interior Designers Network, and everything fell together. Reese began to meet and collaborate with other Black designers, fifty of whom she profiles in this book.

Designer Leah Alexander says scale and size are of the utmost importance when decorating a room. Alvin Wayne adds: take it easy with throw pillows.

Arianne Bellizaire decides the color of a room after she notes “any historical and geographical parameters that are integral to the design.” Elaine Griffin says that “color reigns supreme…” Christopher Charles believes that “paint samples are a homeowner’s best friend.”

What you hang on a wall is important, and Danielle Colding recommends “dynamic art!” Layer the room, say several designers here. Some advocate having a focal point, while others say it’s unimportant. Use painter’s tape when you start furniture placement. Mix texture, but remember functionality. Catasha Singleton says that accessories should be the “very best” part of any room.

Justina Blakeney reminds readers to “have an open mind.”

Byron Risdon says, “Don’t overthink it.”

Amhad Freeman says, “Don’t over do it.”

Delia Kenza says, “Have fun, don’t be afraid to try, and make sure the space tells a story.”

To paraphrase designer Linda Hayslett here, for many decades, the assumption has been that Black homeowners didn’t have taste, sophistication, or need for interior design. Absolutely, “Iconic Home” proves the opposite.

The feature you’ll notice first about this book is the abundance of gorgeous pictures. Author and compiler June Reese includes many elegant examples of her subjects’ work in full-color photos that will satisfy anyone looking for ideas, wishing for their own special room, or merely hoping to satisfy home voyeurism.

When you’re done with the photos, turn back to the beginning and start reading about design as a career and the legacies these designers hope to leave. It’s here where you’ll find plenty of hints on deciding what to add or subtract from your space, and tips to make any room in your home a place you’ll want to be.

This is the kind of book for dreaming, the kind in which you’ll find something different every time you open it. Get “Iconic Home” and take it to the sofa over there.

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