Be Brave: Mix Lots of Patterns

I’m always dreaming of what to do next in our little apartment in Chennai, India. It’s functional but not “finished.” What finishes it? Layers! Layers of patterns, layers of colors, layers of textures.

Because we have to take things for the apartment in suitcases on an airplane, or try to use our time as efficiently as possible in India, and find things in India, I plan in advance. I do mock-ups in Photoshop to see how it will look. One area I’m playing with is the living room sofa area, and the wall behind the sofa.

Juju hat India apartment

I have those five pillows waiting to go to India. So I’m moving toward a color palette of neutral tones with dark browns and black. As I’ve written about here previously, India isn’t easy for me. The heat, the traffic, the loudness — it might be exciting at first but it does wear me down after awhile. So I’m shooting for a soothing atmosphere in our apartment. And to me, that means neutrals.

So how do you punch up the interest with neutral colors? Patterns!

You can see I mixed patterns with the pillows and rug. I really want a large zig zag basket from The Baba Tree Basket Company. The zig zag lines balance out all the curving lines in the other patterns.

I run out of steam for the wall though. I thought about finding a juju hat for texture, stick it on the wall against a painted block of color, and call it a day. Super fast and easy wall decorating. Use the extra time to go to an ayervedic spa.

But I got restless, thinking that isn’t ENOUGH. But what to do? I love arches and India is full of Mughal arches. I’d love to find a set of carved wood arches. Install them on the wall. And paint patterns in the arches, maybe with big Modello stencils like this one, shown in the mock-up below. What you’d get is this:

India Apartment Living Room

Ah. That feels right. Regal. Worthy of all the pattern that you can find in India! I may be on the hunt for carved wood arches!

I forget where I found these arches — I “shopped” online and forgot to make note of the source, but it was a single arch that I copied to make three in Photoshop.

If you want some inspiration for mixing lots of prints and patterns, visit my Pinterest board about mixing patterns. I’ve been debating how to give advice on mixing patterns. I put things together until they look pleasing to me (and I know what’s pleasing to me might not work for everyone!), like this patchwork pillow I made for our India apartment:

Finished Patchwork Pillow

But I’ve never put the process of how I mix patterns into words or conscious, planful thoughts. It might be interesting to try to get it all out of my mind, onto paper. I’m working on it!

Vacation Sandals with Bohemian Chic Style

What do sandals mean to you? If for you, they mean “every day footwear,” oh boy. Do I ever envy you!

For me, sandals scream sum-sum-summertime! Wave your arms and twirl around in the sunshine! Tans! Sand! Eating ice cream cones OUTDOORS!

See, I live near Chicago and for about seven months of the year, there are no sandals to be seen. I will push and stretch sandal season into the odd day in November when the weather is unusually warm. And sometimes you’ll see me wiggling my toes in sandals in February, feeling free of the tyranny of work pumps and their rigid structure that keeps you office appropriate, squished pinky toe and blisters be damned. Kind of a metaphor for life, huh.

So, the best summer vacation sandals are those with free bohemian style. Express yourself. Flowy fringe. Floppy tassels. Strips of strappy straps. How about jangly metal coins? Rhinestones. Studs. Like, straight outta the souks of Marrakech!

If you can’t get to Marrakech any time soon, you can get the look by simply going to Etsy. I tripped across an Etsy store (while barefoot!) that sells hand-crafted embellished Greek leather sandals from Athens — Dimitras Workshop.

Looooove these “artisanal sandals” with magenta accents and bronze coins:

Dimitras Workshop Etsy Shop Boho Chic Sandals

They popped up in my Pinterest feed. And I held my breath while clicking on the picture, because Etsy products are ALWAYS sold out by the time you see them on Pinterest. Or the shop is long closed. But not this time! Dimitras Workshop is there and alive and well, and selling these sandals and all kinds of fun summery vacation sandals.

How about these “Yasmine” sandals. Wear them with everything from classic denim cut-off shorts to tie-dye indigo caftans:

Dimitras Workshop Etsy Store Yasmine Boho Chic Sandals

These “Flamingo” pink sandals are slightly more under-stated yet still fun:

Dimitras Workshop Etsy Shop Bohemian Style Sandals

I am probably old enough to look ridiculous going to Coachella at this point in life. But hey, I could wear these bohemian chic style sandals to the movies! The grocery store! Why not?

Dimitras Workshop Etsy Shop Coachella Style Sandals

If you want just a little neutral bling, go for these handmade leather sandals:

Dimitras Workshop Etsy Shop Neutral Blingy Sandals

I’ve bought plenty a sandal on sale at DSW. But what I like about these is the idea of supporting handmade products, and appreciating the vision and flair of an artisan.

Hmmmm. You may see these in the future on my feet as I make a run to a toilet warehouse in Chennai, India. (Yeah, I have to do things like that sometimes to keep our bathrooms in good working order … ) Or better yet, you may see me on a beach in Sri Lanka soon! Happy vacationing!

Furniture Makeover: From Danish Modern to “Antique”

Several times, I’ve transformed furniture from a plain “Danish modern” style into something far more interesting (to me, at least!). Did you know you can makeover furniture from plain Danish modern into a global style — Chinese antique and Indian antique?

Here’s a few pieces I’ve made over …

I did a makeover on this cabinet to make it look like a Chinese antique:

DIY Cabinet Makeover

Click here for a full tutorial. I used a small poster of a Chinese scene that I ordered from the V&A Museum, olive green milk paint, a few pieces of basswood, and Chinese style hardware found on eBay. That’s it! It now fits much better with our global decor, with Moroccan lanterns and a gong found in Cambodia.

I added raised stencils and Chalk Paint to this armoire to make it look like an Indian antique:

DIY Armoire Makeover

Click here for a full tutorial. I used a Moroccan stencil from Royal Design Studio and created a raised effect, and several colors of Chalk Paint and Clear Wax from Annie Sloan to totally transform this armoire. Oh, and new pulls that look old, from Anthropologie.

Cabinet Makeover Indian Antique

I’m itching to do another piece. I wanted a shelf or cabinet in our living room to hold a bunch of books. While surfing the Ikea website, I found the BESTA cabinet with DJUPVIKEN doors:

IKEA BESTA DJUPVIKEN Doors

That’s what that cabinet looks like now. But when I look at it, I see its future!

I see adding paint to make it look old, metal studs, and old metal hardware from India, to make it look like an antique damachiya (wedding chest) from northern India. Here’s a few examples of what this cabinet could become …

This damachiya was sold by Hammer & Hand Imports at Etsy. I loooove it, the chippy turquoise paint:

Antique Turquoise Blue Indian Wedding Chest Global Warm Industrial Storage Trunk Sideboard Console Media Console

Incidentally, the carved chippy painted wood piece that we used for the base of a bathroom counter in our “second home” apartment in India was found at the Hammer & Hand Etsy shop — check out what we did with it!

Here’s a damachiya that shows the metal stud idea, from De-Cor in Pasadena, California:

Damachiya from de-cor

I think it’s the raised square-ish shapes on the IKEA cabinet that made me see it as a damachiya similar to these old chests. With chalk paint or milk paint and the right metal accents, I could make the IKEA look old, like we found it in a desert hideaway in Rajasthan and shipped it to Chicago!

You can tell I’m not a huge fan of the currently popular mid-century modern style. Because any furniture we own that’s similar to that style, I keep turning into global antique style!

Maybe you will see a “DIY damachiya” in my living room in a future post.