After finally getting the keys to her first house, Moniefia Johnson was left with one question: “How do I make this space a home?”
Through trial and error, she discovered simple home design ideas that create amazing impact – a delicate blend of style, functionality and self-expression to make your space beautiful, accessible and most importantly, personal. Through this experience, Johnson discovered a passion for interior design and soon founded her company, Lignum and Oaks Interior Design, to help others create spaces that feel like home.
Based in New Jersey, she now professionally advises face-to-face clients in the tri-state area and virtual clients online. Johnson still sees her home as a creative playground, using her rooms and walls as canvases to experiment with her craft. The style of your home never lasts. She changes sofas, chairs, rugs, and accent pieces monthly.
“When I get to a point where I love it, I try not to get comfortable and push myself to the next step,” she explains. “How can we improve this design? How can we rise? How can we change it to another style? That gives me the opportunity to be more versatile.”
The Jamaican-born designer aims to add a touch of “wow” to any room – think large chandeliers or a 7ft mirror. “When something is unexpected, the unknown becomes interesting,” she says. In our chat, we explore the inspiration behind Johnson’s latest take on home, and she even reveals her secret to good design.
heart of the house
Although kitchens are the heart of the home, they often lack square footage. Johnson’s advice is that with the right seating, accessories and lighting, you can still create the kitchen of your dreams. “You want to create a space where you can cook, but also where your family can gather,” she says. She suggests warm-toned lights for a cozy atmosphere. In her own home, Johnson opted for white cabinets and dark countertops, and added textured elements like wooden accent bowls and brass pendant lights from Target’s Studio McGee collaboration.
center of attention
Johnson has a penchant for designing living rooms that reflect her clients’ personalities. In her own home, she showcases her love of color and eclectic design with Anthropologie’s delicate Etched Arcadia Mural wallpaper and Urban Outfitters’ terracotta velvet Floria armchairs. A zig-zag walnut and brass Dustin cabinet by World Market is the centerpiece of the space, while an off-center 7-foot Gleaming Primrose mirror by Anthropologie reflects light into the beautiful space.
In contrast to the living room, the TV room should feel a little more lived in – a place where friends and family can meet informally. “That’s where we hide all the stuff and there’s popcorn on the sofa,” she laughs. But less formality doesn’t mean less style. She made a bold statement with deep blue walls, a pink Leonelle sofa by Anthropologie, a contrasting throw pillow and a beaded chandelier. Accessibility is high on Johnson’s list of qualities for the spaces she designs. “I think it’s important to have beautiful spaces, but I’m happiest when I’m told, ‘We love it, we use it every day.'”
The color green often crops up when Johnson works with natural palettes. Muted Sage by Behr on the walls brings a sense of calm to the dining room, where she’s also added some picture frame wall moldings to add dimension to the space. The dining set is a playful mix of parts, with a CB2 Mariana dining table in whitewashed teak surrounded by Safavieh Bandelier oak chairs. Another stunning floor-length Primrose mirror sits in the corner as a focal point.
For Johnson, a hallway is never just a simple passage from one room to the next – even walkways should have their own personality. In hers, Johnson installed a wall of portraits. “Especially in the hallway, it is important to create vignettes everywhere. It’s that point of interest that gives a glimpse of what might be next,” she says. In another corner, she created an asymmetrically paneled wall in a matte black finish paired with a velvet yellow armchair. Paying attention to these overlooked spaces is a key secret of good design.
Many people tend to think only of interiors when designing their homes and rarely bring aesthetic ideals to the outdoors. “I think the outdoor space should always be an extension of your home and not just a separate room that we are in, so I created almost a mirrored layout as I did inside, with a large sofa and two armchairs” , Johnson said . Your outdoor patio, outfitted with Wayfair furniture, is perfect for lounging in the sun and grilling the night away.