After finally getting the keys to her first house, Moniefia Johnson was left with a question: “How do I make this space a home?”
Through trial and error, she uncovered simple home design ideas that make amazing impact — a delicate blend of style, functionality and self-expression to make your space beautiful, approachable and, above all, personal. Through the experience, Johnson discovered a passion for interior design, soon launching her firm, Lignum and Oaks Interior Design, to help others create spaces that feel like home.
Based in New Jersey, she now consults professionally for in-person 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 for experimenting with her craft. Her home’s style is never permanent. She changes couches, chairs, rugs and accent pieces on a monthly basis.
“When I get to a point where I love it, I try not to become comfortable, and push myself to the next step,” she explains. “How can we make this design better? How can we elevate? How can we change it into a different style? That gives me the ability to be more versatile.”
The Jamaica-born designer aims to add a pop of “wow” — think grand chandeliers or a 7-foot mirror — to every space. “When something is unexpected, the unknown becomes interesting,” she says. In our conversation, we explore the inspiration behind Johnson’s current iteration of home and she even reveals her secret to good design.
Heart Of The Home
Though kitchens are the heart of the home, they are often lacking in square footage. Johnson’s advice is that you can still create the kitchen of your dreams with the right seating, accessories and lighting. “You want to create a space where it’s functional for you to cook, but it’s also where your family can congregate,” she says. She suggests warm-toned lights for a cozy vibe. In her own home, Johnson chose to go with white cabinets and dark countertops, adding in textured elements like wooden accent bowls and brass pendant lights from Target’s Studio McGee collaboration.
Center Of Attention
Johnson has an affinity for creating living rooms that reflect her clients’ personalities. In her own home, she showcases her love of color and eclectic design with delicate Etched Arcadia Mural wallpaper from Anthropologie and twin terracotta Floria velvet chairs from Urban Outfitters. A zigzagged walnut-and-brass Dustin cabinet from World Market is the centerpiece of the room, while an off-centered, 7-foot Gleaming Primrose mirror from Anthropologie reflects light into the beautiful space.
In contrast to the living room, the TV room is meant to feel a little more lived-in ― a space where friends and family can casually gather. “That’s where we hide all the junk and where there’s popcorn in the sofa,” she laughs. But less formality doesn’t mean less style. She created a bold statement with deep blue walls, a pink Leonelle sofa from Anthropologie, a contrasting throw pillow and a beaded chandelier. Approachability is high on Johnson’s list of qualities for the rooms she designs. “I think it’s essential to have beautiful spaces, but I’m happiest when I’m told, ‘We love it, we use it every day.’”
The color green often shows up when Johnson is working with natural palettes. Muted Sage by Behr on the walls brings a sense of calm to the dining room, where she also installed some picture-frame wall moulding to introduce more dimension to the space. The dining set is a playful mix of pieces, with a CB2 Mariana whitewashed teak dining table surrounded by Safavieh Bandelier oak armchairs. Another stunning floor-length Primrose mirror sits in the corner as a focal point.
No Empty Spaces
For Johnson, a hallway is never simply a basic passage from one room to the next —even walkways should have their own personality. In hers, Johnson installed a wall of portraits. “It’s especially important in the hallway to create vignettes everywhere. It’s this point of interest that gives a glimpse into what’s potentially next,” she says. In another corner, she created an asymmetrically paneled wall in a matte black finish, paired with a velvet yellow armchair. Giving attention to these overlooked spaces is an essential secret to good design.
Many people tend to think only of interiors when designing their homes, rarely carrying aesthetic ideals into outdoor spaces. “I think the outdoor space should always be an extension of your home and not just a separate space where we hang out, so I created almost a mirror layout, like I did the inside, with a large sofa and two armchairs,” said Johnson. Her outdoor patio, outfitted with furniture from Wayfair, is perfect for both laying in the sun and barbecuing the night away.