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Tour 'Watermelon and Red Birds' Author Nicole Taylor's Midcentury Modern Georgia Home

June 12, 2024

James Beard-nominated food writer and cookbook author Nicole A. Taylor and her husband, UX creative designer and artist Adrian Franks, enlisted interior designer Naïka Andre of NJA Interiors to infuse their Athens, Georgia, home — dubbed The Maroon House — with Black culture.

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Meet the Interior Designer: Naïka Andre

After 15 years of working for interior design firms, Connecticut-based designer Naïka Andre struck out on her own, founding NJA Interiors. At NJA, Naïka is focused on bringing clients curated, eclectic spaces that are designed to help them live with “gratitude, kindness and joy,” as she says. So, when author and producer Nicole A. Taylor and her husband, designer and artist Adrian Franks, were looking for someone to design their Georgia home, Naïka was just the woman for the job.

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Welcome to The Maroon House

Nicole and Adrian bought the house sight unseen in 2020. They call it The Maroon House, "named after the maroons, or enslaved Africans who escaped plantations and cultivated vibrant communities in the American South and throughout the Caribbean in mountains, wetlands and woods," according to Taylor's website. A summer escape for the family that lives in Brooklyn, the interior required renovating and some TLC. “The renovations included a bathroom remodel, new interior paint, flooring, as well as the removal of old millwork and wood paneling,” reports Naïka.

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Photo: Kristin Karch

An Entryway With Cultural Touches

“The design was created to celebrate their Black culture,” Naïka says of the project. “We used items by Black designers and sourced from Black-owned companies.” The three-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot, midcentury modern home includes lot of nods to the family’s heritage and culture, beginning in the entryway. “The entry sets the tone for the home,” Naïka remarks. A mudcloth bench by xN studio, which works with expert artisans throughout Africa, offers a welcome place to sit. “As an added layer of personalization, we also displayed Adrian’s work throughout the foyer,” says Naïka.

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Photo: Kristin Karch

Designing a Light-Filled Living Room

In the living room, the design plan called for openness and light. The walls were painted in a warm gray (Balboa Mist from Benjamin Moore), and a rust sofa and travertine cocktail table by Black-owned furniture brand Studio Anansi keep the room feeling light and cozy. “This room gets so much beautiful light from the sliding glass doors that lead to the backyard. We wanted to highlight that with the layout of the furniture.”

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