“Do you need this?” “Do you love this?” “Will you faint if your daughter and/or her friends accidentally destroy this?” These are the questions Christine Platt asks herself before any new purchase. A mother and a minimalist, she has populated her small space with the things she needs and loves the most.
Before she was married in 2010, Christine lived in this apartment with her daughter, Nalah, for two years. While she was married, she rented this unit out. But now, she and her daughter are back living in the apartment. “It’s been almost two years, and it was a blessing to be able to return to a familiar space post-divorce.”
In designing their home, Christine draws inspiration from the minimalist community on Instagram and Black-women makers in that space. “I received great advice from Chanae of Oloro Interiors. She said, ‘Whether your furnishings are thrifted, vintage or high end, layer your decor so it tells a story.’ As a storyteller, it really resonated with me.” The apartment features fashionable pieces from IKEA, Target, Crate & Barrel, and items from local shops like Cedar & Cotton, Little Leaf, and Take Care Shop. Throughout are soft, organic textures, joyful pops of color in oranges and yellows, and plentiful plants, which bathe in the apartment’s great natural light.
Christine’s design philosophy is rooted in patience, taking her time, and embracing beauty in all forms. “The distressed wooden floors [are my favorite element of the home.] Nails, dents, paint splatters—the floors are just a beautiful mess.”
Along with sharing her minimalist life on Instagram under the moniker The Afro Minimalist, Christine is a writer of fiction and fantasy interwoven with African diasporic experiences, and also works as the Managing Director of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: I’d say I’m minimalist chic influenced by the beauty and diversity of the African diaspora.
Inspiration: The minimalist/tiny house and Black-women makers communities on Instagram. Nicole Crowder, Black Pepper Paperie Co., Oloro Interiors, and Ishka Designs just to name a few. And AphroChic—I love AphroChic.
Favorite Element: The distressed wooden floors. Nails, dents, paint splatters—the floors are just a beautiful mess.
Biggest Challenge: When my daughter was younger, her room seemed so much larger. It was quite a challenge to make the space cozy and functional for a teen. But we did it!
What Friends Say: “There’s no way this is 630 square feet.” And at least once a week, a friend says, “Please, please come organize and decorate my house.”
Biggest Embarrassment: When I prepared to return post-divorce, I didn’t realize how hodgepodge my condo was—from the paint colors to the furnishings. I just wanted a fresh start, so I painted the entire space white (except for the kitchen, which was my last major renovation.) It was so symbolic of starting over.
Proudest DIY: My custom bedding and window dressings. I love the print on CB2’s Korben window panels, so I purchased an extra panel. I used it to make the window valance and matching throw for my bed. It wasn’t an actual DIY on my part, just the idea—the lovely ladies of Cedar & Cotton in Baltimore did the hard work for me.
Biggest Indulgence: Ummm, nothing? I’ve always been a fan of having home furnishings that are affordable. Ever since my daughter was young, the question for every purchase was: “Will you faint if your daughter and/or her friends accidentally destroy this?” (And since becoming a minimalist, I’ve added the questions: “Do you need this?” And, “Do you love this?”).
Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to live in an empty space. It’s advice that I followed from other minimalists and tiny house owners. There’s often a sense of urgency to “finish” a space. But taking a little time to live in your space will help you realize what you really need and love to make it a home.
Chaises — KIVIK chaise; IKEA
Large pillows — Linden 23-inch pillows; Crate & Barrel
Small pillows — Watercolor floral lumbar throw pillow; Target
Console — Target
Accent table — Manila cylinder drum accent table; Target
Gray blanket — Made by mom
Navy blanket — Styles blue fringe throw blanket; Crate & Barrel
Rug — Handmade metro modern gray/ white leather decorative shag; Safavieh
Mirror — MONGSTAD mirror; IKEA
Bookcase — Sawyer mocha 24.5-inch leaning bookcase; Crate & Barrel
Silver lamp — Architect floor lamp; Crate & Barrel (similar here)
Wooden tree lights — Birch trees with LED lights (similar here)
Small hanging planter — Take Care Shop DC
Large hanging planter — Cedar & Cotton
Dining table —Halo ebony round dining table; Crate & Barrel
Chairs — TOBIAS Chairs; IKEA
Chargers — Hearth & Hand with Magnolia galvanized charger with gold welding; Target
Dinnerware — Jen Garrido for Anthropologie (Wildflower Study) (similar here)
Napkins — Anthropologie (similar here)
Wall art — Pier 1 Silver Fork and Knife (similar here)
Yellow cookware — Le Creuset Dutch Ovens and Accessories in Dijon
Aprons and accessories — Anthropologie (similar here)
Coffee maker — Three Cup Classic Chemex
Ceramic canisters —Hearth & Hand with Magnolia stoneware sugar cellar; Target
Bed and nightstand — HEMNES Bed and Nightstand; IKEA
Bedding/linen — Threshold raw edge quilt and shams; Target
Pillows — Threshold cream and gold lumbar pillow; Target (similar here)
Wall art — Brass “C” wall art; Crate & Barrel (similar here)
Curtains — Korben plaid curtain panel; CB2
Mudcloth pillows — Handmade Mudcloth Throw Pillows; Cedar & Cotton
Large framed wall art — Charles Bibbs
Plant/Plant hanger — Little Leaf Shop DC