One step into Eva Sonaike’s home and it’s evident that her roots, work, and life are deeply connected. The designer’s furnishings, offered under her eponymous brand, stand out for their bold African-inspired patterns and colors. So it’s not surprising that many of the same aesthetics bleed into her four-bedroom North London home, which she shares with her husband and two children.
Still, the space is distinct from her professional persona in many ways. Comforting details—like a chest from her childhood, family portraits, and pronounced Nigerian sculptures—make the house feel like home. And elements of her Yoruba heritage that can’t necessarily be perceived through the eyes—the vibrancy, waterside ease, and ancient spirituality—permeate the air. Ahead, Sonaike shares more about her design inspirations, coziest furnishings, and favorite rooms to bask in.
How did you first discover your home? What about it appealed to you?
My husband and I went house hunting in North London, as it has great transport links, great schools, and is very green and safe. Our home was the first house we viewed there and we fell in love with it. I remember holding my husband's hand and pitching each other, as we knew it was the one.
It was not [expansive] and had horrible 1980’s decor, but the light and the energy mesmerized us and we saw the potential in the house. After 14 years of living there, it is still my dream home, and friends and family love to come and visit us for its great energy.
Does your home fit in with your neighborhood's vibe or does it stand out?
We live in a very quiet enclave in North London where after 7 p.m. on a Friday, everything comes to a standstill. The houses in the area are all in the same style from the outside. In terms of interior design, though, our house totally breaks the mold as we pay so much attention to design and details. Plus, we sourced our furnishings and accessories from unusual places.
How would you describe your style and approach to decorating your home?
I would describe my style as eclectic African luxury. I strongly believe that a well-designed home tells a story of the people who inhabit it. This can be a time-consuming process. Many people move in and sometimes put a beautiful design together in a very short time. It can look great but it often ends up being more of a show home than a place where the heart is.
Our house is therefore a work in progress. I tried many different colors and layouts until I found what really works for us. And as we constantly grow as a family, the house grows with us.
Who or what are your biggest design inspirations?
I love Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibate with his expressive sculptures and pieces. The colors and meanings behind his work are so powerful.
And I also love Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye, a Nigerian batik and adire textile designer. She is best known as an artist for her cloth work and beautifully embroidered pieces and is the owner of Nike Art Gallery—which is, in my opinion, one of the most impressive art galleries with pieces from all over the continent, as well as West African textile collections.
How do your Nigerian and German backgrounds inform your style?
I feel that both my Yoruba heritage and my German upbringing have an immense influence on my design style. I love the colors and patterns of the West African designs. You can see them reflected in my furniture designs and also my interior design style. But I also have some beautiful German heritage furnishings that are very dear to me and blend in perfectly.
Any other cultures you take design notes from?
I always want to highlight the diversity of the African continent and its people. I love the raffia weaving techniques of the Kuba people in Central Africa and the beading works by Xhosa people of Southern Africa. I have some items from these places displayed in my home.
What were the greatest finds in your home? Can you share a story behind any of them?
Oh, that's so difficult because I love many of them. One is the wooden German chest, a central piece in my living room. My mother bought it with her first salary as a young doctor and when I was furnishing my house in London, I convinced her to send it to me. I used to hide inside of it when I was a little girl playing hide and seek.
And I love my bedroom—in particular, the club chair in the orange Odi fabric from my Falomo collection against the light lilac wallpaper from my Asa collection. They are like yin and yang: one bold and vibrant and the other one calming and subtle, but they harmonize perfectly together.
Do you have a favorite design feature or room? If so, where is it in the house and what makes it unique?
I love period buildings, so my bedroom with the curved bay window—which is typical of the 1930s design style—is very special. But my favorite room is our open-plan living room with split levels. It has very high ceilings and is perfect for entertaining and relaxing as a family or alone.
Where in your home do you spend the most time, and what are you usually doing there?
I love spending time in my living room, especially in the morning (ideally in summer) when the light flows through and I can sit on the sofa, looking through the large windows into the garden. This is a great space to start the day in meditation. I also love an early night relaxing in bed, especially with my layered mood lighting which makes the room calm and cozy—perfect for a good night's sleep.