Home is : a bright 2 bedroom flat in North London
A happy place, a sanctuary, a retreat, with Ayoka’s “Home is ….. ” series, we look at what homes means to a new generation of black folks.
As a food entrepreneur and founder of her eponymous brand Tokunbo’s Kitchen, Tokunbo Koiki is used to mixing flavours to prepare dishes that tickle your palate. Today, she opens the doors not of her kitchen but of her sizzling lounge, a place flooded with natural light that radiates warmth.
I am Tokunbo Koiki, founder of an award-winning Nigerian food brand based in London. I was born in London but grew up in Lagos, Nigeria for the first nine years of my life before returning back to London. I have thus spent most of my life living in London albeit an eighteen months return to Lagos in 2010 and a one year professional development period living in Washington D.C. in 2013.
What I like the most about London
I love that London is a multicultural and diverse city. I especially like the London street food scene. I love how accessible it is travelling across London, a fact I realised and appreciated more after having lived in the DMV region of the United States where having a car was a necessity in most places!
I rent a two bedroom flat in a quiet suburb in North London. I love the brightness of my flat, which I have achieved through combining a yellow and grey decor and aesthetics to the natural brightness of the flat.
I knew I wanted yellow to be a big part of the decoration process as the colour represents a sense of joy and happiness to me. I did some research to see what other colours would work with yellow and decided on grey. Having this framework made it easy for me to decide what to get in decorating my flat. I started with a bright canary yellow sofa and armchair as the foundation in which I built on. Pinterest app was great for getting ideas and inspirations.
How my Heritage inspires me
I was very intentional in looking for pieces of furniture that would reflect my heritage. This was important to me as I feel very proud of my dual British and Nigerian identity, which I sought to express within my home. I was opportuned to travel to New York, shortly after moving into my unfurnished flat. I was hugely inspired by the pieces of African art that adorned my host’s flat in Harlem. In the ‘Little Senegal’ shopping village close by, I sourced some woven baskets that now add some vibrancy to my flat. I also had a friend make a customised Ṣẹ̀kẹ̀rẹ̀ - a handmade rattle using a calabash covered on the outside with a net of shells and beads.
My Favourite things
My sofa and armchair were bought for me by my mum from Istanbul, Turkey. Initially I did not like the white feet and had planned to paint them over but then I found the rug in IKEA and was delighted to see it match so perfectly well with the sofa.
The spotlight lamp however is my absolute favourite piece. I was inspired by having seen something similar at a friend’s flat some years back. Initially wasn’t able to afford it but after one of my highest paid jobs last autumn, I was able to buy it just in time to count as a birthday present to myself.
Bare or decorated walls?
I love decorated walls that have a sense of symmetry. I was restricted from being able to decorate the walls in the first year as my flat is in a new building development. I am now happy to finally have a mixture of family photos and art adorning my walls. I also recently found a great mosaic wall mirror that adds a touch of class and elegance to the space.
Favourite Ayoka Print
I was delighted to see Alice at the Africa Utopia festival in London during the summer of 2018. Unbeknown to her, she was the very first person to purchase a ticket for my first supper club event back in January 2018. Although she had been unable to actually attend the event, one of my goals for the year was to show up for those who had supported my endeavours. So I knew I wanted to support her as I was also trading at the festival.
I fell in love with the Delphine Alphonse's Mademoiselle, j’al rendez-vous art print because there was something striking about the image. The eyes seemed to be speaking directly to my soul and I love the colourfulness of the print. As someone who loves bright and colourful pieces, it was actually the first piece of art that went up on my wall. I have it on top of my spotlight as they both give me a sense of standing in the light.
Tips for picking art
Pick something that speaks to YOUR soul. Don’t overthink it by wondering how it would fit into your aesthetic. Once you know the pieces that fit who you are, you will find that as time goes by, each one comes together to fit perfectly as if pieces of a puzzle.
Home Is… a place where love, joy and laughter resides.