Stenciled Moleskine Travel Journal

I almost didn’t post this because it’s so fast and easy. Does it really count as a blog-worthy DIY? Then I thought, maybe fast and easy is exactly what should be shared. Because a lot of my DIYs take some time. Time is hard to get sometimes. It’s not like we can buy more of it at a store. Sometimes you want the “fast food” equivalent of a DIY. An easy, fast and fulfilling project. So here it is … a stenciled Moleskine travel journal:

DIY Stenciled Moleskine Travel Journal

Now a travel journal doesn’t have to be a Moleskine. You can do this is to any kind of a journal book. If the journal has a smooth cover, it’s easier to paint. I happened to be at a Barnes & Noble buying this “Marrakech Select” book and saw the blue Moleskine, and the blue made me think of Moroccan tiles, and it looked good with the Marrakech book. And there you go. Money flying out my pocket.

I’m filling this journal with notes for a trip to Morocco in November. So the Starry Moroccan Night stencil from Royal Design Studio was perfect for its cover.

Stenciling a Moleskin Journal

TIP: If you have big wall stencils, you don’t have to paint them only on big things! 

Maybe you have a wall stencil sitting around after painting a wall, and you’re not sure what to do with it now? You can use a small part of the stencil, creatively positioned, on anything, really. I’ve used big wall stencils to paint patterns on small Christmas ornaments. As you can see here for this journal cover, I used only a small part of the Starry Night stencil. That’s okay!

Stencil Creme in Peacock Fancy Blue

The paint is Peacock Fancy Stencil Creme, a paint made for stenciling by Royal Design Studio. I’m a contributor to their online design magazine, Paint and Pattern, so I use a lot of their products and love how every project turns out, even when I’m trying something for the first time.

The paint has a shimmery sheen and it really dresses up the Moleskine. I love the sophisticated blue on blue.

Stenciling a Moleskine Journal

Once I gathered the supplies from around the house, this took 2 minutes to set up and paint! So super fast and easy.

Then I decided to paint the edges of the paper gold. It took longer to find the gold paint than to actually paint the paper.

Gilding Paper Edges Gold

I just ran a brush along the edges of the paper, while holding the covers away so I didn’t slop gold paint on the covers. Some paint did get on the inside front and back pages. That looked like a mistake. So I ran lines of paint real casually and feathery along all the edges so it all looks intentional.

Gold Gilded Paper Edges

Feathery Gold Paint

Gold Page Edges in Journal

The Moroccan trip is a “Paint & Play” retreat with Melanie of Royal Design Studio and about 10 other people interested in travel and painting, so a painted journal seemed perfect to prep for the trip!

Stenciled Moleskine Travel Journal

Same Blog, New Name

After 4 years of blogging, the focus here has inevitably shifted. Instead of talking only of an apartment in India, this blog has become about design inspiration around the entire world. I’ve traveled to many places and I love mixing design styles from different cultures together! (Scandinavian + Indian for instance.)

This new name is just catching up with content here, so not much else will change. So then, why even bother with a new name? Well, a few reasons:

1. I think my blog name made some people feel uncomfortable.

People don’t know what a “pied-à-terre” is! It’s human nature to avoid what we don’t know or don’t understand. Plus, we’re all busy. Who wants to waste time? So just seeing a blog name, we make assumptions about what’s there before we click. Will it interest us? Is it relevant for us? What happens if people don’t know what a blog’s name means?

On the other hand, I know some people felt an affinity with the name and it drew them to this blog. Obviously I chose the name, so I felt a connection to it. But for the reasons shared today, I’ve had many second thoughts.

2. People don’t know how to say “pied-à-terre.” Even I mispronounced by own blog name!

I went to the Haven conference last year saying the name of my own blog wrong! Because everyone asked, how do you say that? Continue reading

Decorating with DIY Pedestal Tables

In the last post, I shared that you can take a pile of wood discs and a tall candlestick, and turn them into cute little pedestal side tables.

DIY Pedestal Table

But where might you use such a little pedestal table? Once I did that project, I started to see similar tiny pedestal tables all over online. Funny how that happens. Somehow, seeing something opens your eyes and you see it all over the place! I’ve learned there may be no more truly original ideas left on this planet. Here’s a few similar side tables …

These were featured in Traditional Home. Not DIY, but they show how they can be used as a design element. Because I’m not sure how else you would use these other than for a cup of tea:

Little Side Tables by Banquette via Traditional Home

Here’s a hot red little number at The Lily Pad Cottage. She painted it an OPI color, yes, like the color of OPI nail polish:

Red Side Table at The Lily Pad Cottage

In addition to candlesticks, you can also make these little tables with tall lamp bases. Here are some tables made with vintage brass lamp bases, from a company called Ladies & Gentlemen.  It looks like wood discs were used to make the top, as I did with my table:

Side Tables made from vintage brass lamp bases via Ladies and Gentlemen

Here’s another lamp base turned into a pedestal table, but with a picture frame on top. This was made by the Richmond Thrifter for $5.50!

Lamp base and picture frame DIY'd into a pedestal table by the Richmond Thrifter blog

I’m not sure what she put in the tabletop – it looks like either fabric or scrapbook paper and you could do either to get a touch of pattern and color. Cute idea.

Top of DIY Pedestal Table made by Richmond Thrifter blog

The Richmond Thrifter also shared the Anthropologie table below which looks similar to her DIY’d table, but for $298 retail! Now I think you can easily make this table for under $29.80, including a tall candlestick or lamp frame (thrift it or get it on sale), pieces of wood and a picture frame.

Buy or DIY

Here’s a pedestal table from Safavieh for about $225. Seriously. DIY it or BUY it? If you DIY it, you can afford to buy a lamp to put on the table.

Savafieh Pedestal Table

I should start a new series here called “DIY it or BUY it!” It’s true that some DIY projects are so much time and trouble or they require pricey specialty tools, that you might as well BUY it. But I can tell you a pedestal table like this is so easy to make. All you need to build it is wood glue or E6000 glue, really. If you’re not standing on the table, you don’t even need screws. But you certainly can add screws or nails for extra strength and security. Then, paint the table. It’s an afternoon project, if even that long! I stenciled and gold foiled my table so it took more time. But if you’re giving it a single color of paint – so super easy. This is the kind of project where the final result looks like more than the sum of its parts.

You can even add a larger top on to a DIY table to make it more practical to use. Like you can actually fit more than a coffee mug on it. Infarrantly Creative shared this cute DIY candlestick table with a larger top:

From Candlestick to Pedestal Table via Infarrantly Creative

This next example from Pearle’s Rosebuds shows the “before” and how you should keep your eyes open while thrifting for shapes. Look beyond the color and the pattern. Look for the potential of what things could be, not what they are at the moment. Because with some paint, they could become totally different looking, like this DIY pedestal table she made:

DIY Pedestal Table Made by Pearl's Rosebuds blog

So? Have I convinced you to try this? Making my table was so fun, I might have to make another one!


A Pile of Wood Discs & A Candlestick, Transformed

It started with this:

Pile of Discs and a Tall Candlestick

Then they became this:

How to Build a Small Side Table

And before too long, with the magic of paint and stencils and some gold metal leaf foil, they became this:

Painted Stenciled Side Table

It’s my latest DIY project for Paint and Pattern blogzine – hop on over there to see all the “how to do it” details and photos of the process!

I’m often blogging in our family room where there isn’t anywhere convenient to set a drink while sitting on the sofa. So I made this little table as the perfect place for the job.

Little Side Table Made from a Tall Candlestick

If you, too, need a little spot to set drinks or a snack, check out how to build this little side table with some wood discs you can find in a craft or home improvement store and a tall candlestick. It’s super easy to do!

Change is Coming

So I wanted to let you know a change is coming here. Very soon! It includes things that have been on this blog for years … decorating inspiration from around the world, DIY projects with global style, a little bit of travel thrown in … So, don’t be surprised when you see something new and different here …


A scene from my travels, a little scene outside the entrance to Sundari sari shop in T Nagar, Chennai, India:

Sundari Sari Shop in Chennai India


A collage of ideas for the entrance to the India pied-à-terre:

India pied-a-terre Foyer Ideas

Some things above will actually be there! I own that mirror (it’s huge! and rustic!) and that is the actual door on the interior side. The exterior of the door is fantastically carved. And it’s a small door, because you are intended to stoop over as you step through, so the door looks funny and short in the collage but it’s correctly to scale.


Jali-inspired wall art that I created for Paint and Pattern design magazine as a contributor there:

Scrapbook Paper and Stenciled Wall Art

Above my wall art is paired with some favorite things … gold temple bells, a Chinese Ming table, hundi lanterns, decorative suitcases for the travel theme. And the stencils in the wall art are from designs inspired by cultures around the world.

There is a clue in here! I feel like I’m writing a “blog blind” like a celebrity blind riddle. There are clues and there are red herrings. But all will be revealed soon …

Visions of Country Courthouse Sugarplums Dancing in My Head

About two years ago, my husband visited his ancestral village of Osur in Tamil Nadu in South India, and came back to Chicago excited. They were just launching a renovation of a Hindu temple there. And they anticipated people will want to go to Osur when it’s done. They expected travelers. A renewal of the village. My husband said, before this demand happens, get a plot of land now — a plot of land could be had for $2,000. You could build a country house! With a courtyard as seen in traditional South Indian homes.

I got visions. My visions look just like this Pinterest board — a countryside dream of cool whites, naturals, rustic, wood, stone, linen. Cool whites everywhere to lighten the load of India’s heat on our shoulders.

Follow India pied-à-terre’s board India – Country Courtyard House on Pinterest.

Of course it’s all play in my mind. It’s a beautiful Pinterest board isn’t it? But Pinterest boards are far off from reality.

The reality is the village is hours from anything when I’m a Chicago suburban person who craves being in the city, not even in the suburbs. I want to be in the middle of everything. Even on vacation! Once I visited the village, I found some charm there but my vision would not belong.

Maybe, maybe build this vision in the middle of Chicago? What about that as an idea.

A Rural South Indian Village

Today I share some shots of Osur village, in rural South India. We went there in 2013 to witness blessings for a temple. During a stroll around the handful of streets that are the village, my eye was drawn to textures and glimpses of things. As you will see, I was probably more intrigued with capturing parts of things than the whole. Because often the whole wasn’t pretty. It was tough reality. I guess this was my attempt to make it feel pin-worthy. That is not passing any judgment on the village — it’s more a reflection of, maybe, my privileged need to make things “pin-worthy.” That’s heavier stuff than just taking photos, for sure.

Osur Village Home

Rural South India Village Home Entrance

Rural South India Textures

Osur Village Dog Resting

If this is making you feel melancholy and maybe a little lonely in this world, well, that’s the effect many scenes here had on me too. But things are looking brighter …

Painted Stairs in Rural South Indian Village

Wooden Door in Rural South India

Osur Village Colors

Colors of India

Here are some scenes of the streets:

Street in Osur Village

Palm Leaf Roof

There were very few people. No children to be seen around. Most adults might have been at the temple’s ceremony, though I spotted a few people peeking warily through windows.

Some of these women adjusted my sari. And it’s surprising how the sari can go from making you feel like a caterpillar confined uncomfortably in a shapeless cocoon that you keep picking at, to a silken goddess gliding on air effortlessly. I thank them for making me feel that way!

Women at the Temple Visit

Workers are building modern blocky concrete homes next traditional styles:

New Construction and Traditional Homes

And that is Osur village. I’ll share later my fantasies of designing an Indian courtyard country house and images collected on a Pinterest board. Big contrast from what life really is!