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Meet AphroChic's Sister Design Duo Tonight at Room & Board

Image courtesy of BrandLinkDC
Image courtesy of BrandLinkDC

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Tonight, Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason, founders of the interior design blog AphroChic, will sign their new book at Room & Board in Logan Circle from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with a presentation at 6:30 p.m. But this is way more of a party than your average book signing. D.C. chef Rock Harper will serve soul food hors d'oeurves and a DJ will provide the soundtrack. The party fits with the message of the AphroChic book, which is all about ways to create the ultimate personalized space influenced by heritage and history, right down to dreaming up a playlist inspired by your living room.

Where to hold AphroChic's D.C. launch party was a no-brainer: Jeanine's sister Angela Hays Belt is the head visual designer for Room & Board's D.C. location at 1840 14th Street NW. The two sisters worked together for two years on styling the homes featured in the book, and today, Room & Board will feature AphroChic-inspired vignettes using Room & Board's new fall accessories line to show guests interesting new ways to decorate their space.

RSVP for the party here, and after the jump, Jeanine and Angela chat about growing up as Ikea catalog-loving kids, taking their careers from politics to interior design, and they shared a few simple tips on how to bring pattern and color into your home. Pro tip: don't buy a teal sofa.

Did you both expect to end up in design careers?
Jeanine: I don't think so. We both grew up studying policy and politics, I went to school for policy and to be a lawyer. I went to law school, I worked in public policy for six years. I never thought that this would be anything more than just a hobby. Fortunately it's become so much more than that. Design is something I'm very passionate about it. It's been a current all through my life and it's wonderful that this is what I get to do full time.

Angela: I went to Howard University and I studied political science and I minored in fine art. Really, by the end of my college career, I was specifically doing fine art. And then I moved to New York and I did shows in Chelsea and in South Hampton and really got interested in the artistic side of things. I started working for Room & Board after college and just fell in love with furniture and art from there.

Were you into home decor as kids, and did you share a room?
Angela: We did have separate bedrooms but I didn't like to sleep alone. So we did end up sharing a bedroom. My mother was always about having a clean house. We had that one room that had white carpets that you couldn't step on, that was for parties and for photos. Our mother was very particular about how her house needed to be at all times.

Jeanine: We were always the kids, we were up in the Ikea catalog when it came out. We would ask to go to Ikea to get things for our room to decorate with.

If you went shopping together, would you both go for the same thing?
Angela: I would say that our styles are similar but slightly different. I feel like Jeanine would go more very elegant, sophisticated, bold, black, velvet. For me, I like a little more mid-century and industrial.

Jeanine: I'm more of a girly girl. Angela has always had a little more edge in her design sensibilities. From time to time we would go to Anthropologie and see something that we like, but I think the way we implement it in our homes is very different. I will say that she has definitely influenced me, and probably my husband is pretty happy about it. She's got me a little more into enjoying some of the cleaner lines and hard edges and some of the more masculine style into my own home. So it's not just hot pink and girly stuff everywhere.

You love color. Do you have any tips for someone who might not know where to start in adding color to their home?
Jeanine: Color is something that for a lot of folks can be very scary, because they think, Oh my God, I have to go through all these paint chips and what shade do I go with? But one of the things that I really suggest is going with some great neutral bases for your major pieces of furniture. Your sofa, you might want to have something grey, your coffee table, your sideboards, you want to go with some beautiful dark wood pieces. You can easily layer in color in all of your accessories. You can bring in colorful pillows, lamps. You could add a side chair with a great pattern on it that pops. And also have a defined color palette in mind.

Angela: I've worked at Room & Board for eight and a half years as a visual merchandiser, I've been at our D.C. showroom for four years. I think if you've ever been to our showroom, a lot of people say you have greys and beiges. We're just about having those staple pieces. Your sofa should be something that you want to own for the next five to 10 years. It is a heavy investment. The fun colors may come in the paint colors, the pillows, the throws. Maybe your ottoman is that custom color for you. But when you get a teal sofa — I've done it myself, I owned a yellow sofa. I owned it for only two years because I loved it but it was yellow and I got tired of it. Some of those big pieces, if you go for that fun color, how do you live with that for a long time?

Do you have a favorite pattern?
Jeanine: My pattern still continues to be ikats. They are fantastic in that they have a global feel to them immediately. I love when I see them in great modern interpretations of traditional ikats. We have one ourselves, our Haze Mimosa ikat pillow that's been blown out in a great, modern way. That's something that sticks out in your home immediately. It feels like a cultural piece that has a history. There's a history to those patterns. As much as I love to have fun with things, I love the history and meaning behind patterns and designs.

Angela: I think some people would say it's played out, but I can't get enough of chevrons. I love all the scales and sizes and ways that people play with it, and I can't get enough of chevrons.
· AphroChic [Official Site]
· Room & Board [Official Site]

Room & Board

1840 14th Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20009