Name: Christine Platt
Social Media Handle: @afrominimalist
City of Residence: Washington, DC
Number of years in current home: I have owned my condo for nine years. During my marriage, I rented the unit to a friend. But I recently divorced, so I have returned. It has been such a blessing to live in a familiar, comforting space these past two years.
Tell us the story of your home. To you, what sets it apart or makes it unique aside from the fact that you and your family are the ones who live in it.
I know that most people think their home is special, but I really really believe there is something magical about my living space. When my daughter and I returned post-divorce, I literally repainted every wall in a crisp white (all the rooms were different colors before.) It was very intentional, very symbolic. I wanted it to represent a clean slate, starting over. I wanted my home to be a sanctuary. And that is exactly what it is.
How would you describe your personal home style?
I would say that my personal home style is minimalist décor influenced by the history and beauty of the African diaspora.
What is your favorite space in your home and why?
My bedroom. Definitely my bedroom! I am so happy whenever I am in that space. With my plants. Incense. Candles. My bedroom is a place of respite for sure.
If you could share one thing about yourself with readers that you've perhaps never shared publicly or via social media, what would it be?
Since turning the big 4-0, I spend a lot of time thinking about death. Not in a morbid sense, but in the “what do I want to achieve while I’m still here” sense. It has caused me to become very intentional about everything—from how I spend day to prioritizing goals to traveling. I actually wish that I had been this intentional with my life much sooner. But better later than never, right?!
5. What was life like for you growing up in your childhood home? (optional: if this is not something you care to share due to the possible sensitivity of the topic, I understand but I also believe there is something wonderful about vulnerability and what it does in others)
Much of my childhood was full of love! Lots of laughter, lots of singing, lots of music. There was one tragic incident that I won’t share out of respect for my brother. But even that tragedy, while sad, didn’t cripple our family and our love for each other. I actually didn’t realize how small our house was or how much our family went without until I went off to college. When I was a child, if asked for something and we couldn’t afford it, my mother’s response was, “do you really need that?” Or “let’s put that on our wish list.” I was never told, “We can’t afford that.” Or, “We don’t have money for that.” So, I thought that whenever we went without, it was optional, a conscious decision. I never realized we were broke! lol And I so appreciate not having to bear the weight of that as a child.
6. What does home mean to you? What do you want others to feel when they enter/spend time in your home?
Home means sanctuary. A safe space to relax, to let go. That’s what I want others to feel when they spend time in my home. And I think people do—they usually fall asleep or tell me they don’t want to leave!
Proudest DIY? (if applicable)
I just love the print on CB2’s Korben window panels. I purchased an extra panel and used it to make a window valance and matching throw. It wasn’t an actual DIY on my part, just the idea – the lovely ladies of Cedar & Cotton in Baltimore did the hard work for me.
Do you think you've learned to embrace your story? Your home? Why or why not? Explain.
Definitely! And I have learned that sharing my story can be a source of help and inspiration for others. Sharing my divorce, sharing my journey to minimalism—I have received so many ‘thank you’ messages from strangers. In the age of social media, it can appear that others have it all figured out and have their lives together. It’s very therapeutic to acknowledge the good and the bad, the struggles and the triumphs. To me, whether done publicly or privately, acknowledging the totality of your story is essential to embracing it.
If there was one piece of advice that you could give to others as to how to embrace their home and their story, what would that sound like?
I would share the advice that I struggled to follow when I first started my journey to minimalism—Don’t be afraid to live in an empty space. There’s often a sense of urgency to finish a space. But taking a little time to live in your space will help you realize what you really need and love to make it a home.
How does what you do currently in your "professional life" tie into this idea that home is "more than just a place we live" but that it holds much more of a redemptive and restorative power than we may currently embrace culturally?
I currently serve as the Managing Director of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. I also write stories for people of all ages that focus on African and African-American history. Elements of the African diaspora are interwoven throughout my living space (hence, the Afrominimalist--smile.) I am constantly surrounded by, and thus always reminded of, the work that I know God has called me to do. I am always conscious of the past, thankful for the present, and comforted knowing that my work is contributing to bettering the future.
Christine A. Platt is a historian and storyteller of the African diaspora. She holds a B.A. in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida, M.A. in African Studies from The Ohio State University and received her J.D. from Stetson University College of Law. When Christine isn’t writing or working, she is curating her 630 sq ft living space in Washington, DC. (Click here for professional inquiries and speaking engagements.)