Design Trend: Detroit! Yes Detroit!

You may have done a double-take at this title? Detroit, a font of trendy design? Yes! I grew up near Detroit. It’s my hometown, and if I can tell you one thing about Detroit, it’s that the grittiness there produces hardy people and a certain underdog’s pride. The city’s fall on hard times forces that. Even though I left back in 2001, I was in my early 30s then, so I spent plenty of years of life around Detroit and its suburbs to see the cycles of economics and how this can make you tough and resourceful.

And so …

I was proud when I heard Genevieve Gorder’s speech about three top design trends in 2015:

  • Texture
  • Vikings (she is Scandinavian after all)
  • Detroit!!

Whaaaaaaat?!?! Yes, Detroit is a design trend and I explain why below.

I warn there’s a few f-bombs in the video, but her talk is entertaining and hilarious and delivers a fast-paced stream of style that’s coming your way. When s0meone gets so breathless because there’s so many words to share, you know they love what they do:

As she says in her talk, if you want to stay ahead of style trends, you gotta accept things when they’re still at the weird stage. But now that it’s late 2015, many things in the video are not a surprise. You’ve seen them all over Pinterest and blogs and Instagram. You may have seen Detroit style too, and not even realized it yet.

Genevieve talks about black and white as 2015 design trends, and I found a Detroit style-setter that combines B&W with “doing good in Detroit” … Better Life Bags. This is the Finley bag:

Better Life Bags Finley Bag

Here’s how it works at Better Life Bags: you custom design your bag, and women in Detroit sew it for you. You can choose your fabric, leather color, types of straps, whether you want a tassel add-on. With some designs you can add exterior pockets. You can even choose whether you want gold or silver hardware. Here’s more about how Better Life Bags helps women in Detroit:

Their laptop bags are useful:

Better Life Bags Laptop

They’ve teamed up with another Detroit style institution, Detroit Bikes, with the Scout messenger bike bag, my personal #1 fav style and I may treat myself for Christmas with the wide black and white stripe fabric! It can be worn as a backpack or slung over your should like a regular ol’ bag:

Better Life Bags Scout Bike Messenger Bag

Detroit has a creative workforce with an eye toward industrial style. It’s a town of steelworkers, auto seat upholsterers, machinery operators … the types of jobs you find in the “rust belt” of heavy industry and assembly lines. So it’s no surprise that out of that atmosphere, the idea for vice grips as table legs would arise! Remember what I said about resourcefulness? Take a found chunk of wood, add vice grip legs from FLOYD and you have a dining table or coffee table, a shelf or a bench:

Floyd Vice Grip Legs

Floyd Vice Grip Leg Dining Table

Floyd Vice Grip Shelves

I think these shelves have potential for hipster boho style perfection – just the right amount of industrial to set off bohemian style. Follow FLOYD Detroit on Instagram for new ideas to make things with their vice grip products, like this stylish table with what looks like salvaged wood:

Floyd Detroit Vice Grip Leg Table

I’m thinking those of us who do crafts need BIG TABLES. And big tables can come with a big price tag. But salvaged wood (doors maybe?) with these vice grip legs would make instant affordable big tables for crafts and hobbies!

Detroit’s decaying buildings are the subject of much ruin porn photography. But one man named Mike Wallace of Wallace Detroit Guitars sees the old buildings were built of wood from old growth forests. Wood with resonance good for guitars. So he makes music from Detroit’s ruins — he makes guitars:

CBS News Mark Wallace Guitars from Detroit

Wallace Detroit Guitars

A really cool product that’s quintessential Detroit is Fordite jewels. Fordite is a colorful stone made from the thousands of layers of paint from automotive plants. !!! Can you believe that? I’m dumbfounded. Maybe some paint from my first car, a red Ford Escort back in the early 90s, is now in one of these stones. Also known as Motor City Agate:

Fordite Motor City Agate

You can find lots of Fordite jewelry on Etsy.

Detroit is a big sports town, home of the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons. The Detroit Strap Co. takes old footballs, vintage and baseball mitts and turns them into watch straps and other products. The straps often show signs of their original lives:

Detroit Strap Co Watch Straps

Another reclaim and repurpose initiative is Reclaim Detroit’s butcher blocks. The butcher blocks are made from the old growth wood found in salvaged Detroit homes:

Reclaim Detroit Butcher Blocks

They say there are about 70,000 abandoned homes in Detroit that cannot be lived in again. They must be knocked down. The structure of those old homes were built with really good old wood. So people are trained both to deconstruct the houses and build new products with the wood.

It’s no secret that Detroit has suffered from violence. I love these products made with melted down crime weapons. These steel cufflinks, available at the Detroit Institute of Arts online shop, have the serial number of the gun that was permanently removed from the streets:

Caliber Detroit Steel Cuff Links

They also make cuff bracelets from the molten down metal.

Another repurpose into jewels is … graffiti material. Yes! A company called Rebel Nell takes graffiti that has fallen off of walls and remakes it into jewelry. Something that some might consider blight becomes beautiful, like these earrings:

Rebel Nell Graffiti Jewelry

Rebel Nell’s pendants are really pretty, like this one:

Rebel Nell Pendant made from graffiti

You even get a map showing the area of where the graffiti was found. Cool! Rebel Nell hires women from homeless shelters who are ready to transition to self-reliance. They have a beautiful way of describing their products and the meaning of Detroit: “We collect this graffiti after it has fallen off of walls.  Initially these scraps of graffiti look a little rough on the surface, just like many people’s first impression of Detroit.  However, after we take it through our process, we’re able to reveal all the beautiful layers that make up the graffiti, just like the intricate layers that make up our city.”

Wow this post got long and there’s still so much to show you! What I said about the underdog pride — it’s not like New York City or San Francisco, cities where people want to go. If you’re from Detroit, you have to fight so hard for people to see the gems and the beauty there.

For more made in the Motor City, follow Instagram hashtag #MadeInDetroit



Drool-Worthy Design at Jayson Home

Doesn’t every city have its must-see decor and furniture stores? (If you are  into that sort of thing, that is!) The design pilgrimage stores. Like ABC Carpet & Home in New York. In Chicago, I’d put Jayson Home as one of those stores and can you believe I’ve lived here 11 years and have never stopped by. They are upscale, but they have their annual warehouse sale this weekend with deals. They also have occasional flea markets. I’d highly recommend you visit Chicago, but if you can’t, you can shop Jayson Home on their website.

Check out the pattern mix of these Indonesian batik fabrics:

Indonesian Batik at Jayson Home

Organically shaped pottery made with Japanese techniques hundreds of years old, and wabi sabi style:

Japanese Wabi Sabi Pottery

This! This unique French-inspired coffee table is covered with textured, distressed white burlap, yes burlap:

Burlap Covered Coffee Table

Burlap Covered Coffee Table Texture

A long low-riding leather sofa. Place it as a modern element in any nomadic decor mix. It’s the perfect background for patterns:

Jayson Home Leather Sofa

One crazy unusual piece can make a room so much more interesting. Can I suggest, a textured Brutalist sideboard:

Textued Brutalist Sideboard

My favorite section on their website is their Curiosities. If you want to be a winner, what about an instant trophy collection? All vintage patina, from England:

Jayson Home Vintage Trophies

An antique mirror from France has a perfect old patina:

Antique French Mirror at Jayson Home

If you like this antique mirror look, you could easily create this look. With a picture frame with glass. Use milk paint or chalk paints on the frame, and Krylon Looking Glass Mirror Paint on the reverse side of the glass, then distress the Krylon paint.

And, Suzani! Old faded embroidered Suzani, the real stuff from Uzbekistan, no printed faux patterns here:

Vintage Suzani at Jayson Home

Vintage Kuba cloth pillows with sophisticated patterns:

Vintage Kuba Cloth Pillows at Jayson Home

I must really be in a beige mood today. They do have colorful stuff too! I just didn’t choose any of it. In fact looking over these, couldn’t they all be together in one pattern-full interesting room!


Rugs in Kitchens

Today’s topic: It’s not as controversial as painting wood, because I don’t think people who do this will get rabidly attacked, but there are definitely pro and con camps to putting rugs in kitchens.

Would you?

I would. And I did.

This is not my house, this is from This Old House, but this is what I’m talkin’ about:

Rug in Kitchen via This Old House

I love rugs in kitchens.

Our kitchen has a hardwood floor, and rugs were on that floor within 30 days after we moved in. After my fumble fingers dropped a few knives and spice jars resulting in nasty deep dents with the first month, off to I went for affordable rugs. Plus, with oak floors and oak cabinets, there was way too much wood in the kitchen. The texture and color of rugs help break up all the wood.

But I know some people wouldn’t. Ever.

Here’s the pros and the cons. First the pros, because I’ve stated my obvious bias.

  • Kitchens are nearly all hard surfaces and sharp corners, and rugs visually soften this
  • They add pattern to a space that’s often lacking this
  • They add color variation to a space that’s often monochromatic – whether cabinets are wood or painted, there’s usually only one or two colors in cabinets
  • They’re softer and more comfortable to stand on than tile or wood
  • They protect the floor from dropped things like cans and utensils

Let’s see the visual advantages to rugs in kitchens. I hope these will entice you. Then we’ll discuss the cons.

From Architectural Digest, this kitchen makeover is stunning. The white and stainless palette is so clean. But due to the nature of kitchen materials, everything is hard surfaces. The rug adds some contrast, and the color ties with the wood counters:

Rug in Kitchen - Architectural Digest

Here’s one from BHG, everything white. Everything. Imagine without the rug:

Rugs in Kitchens - Better Homes and Gardens

From Traditional Home, these are not white cabinets, but this kitchen still benefits from the pattern and color in the rug:

Traditional Home Runner in Kitchen

Featured in Apartment Therapy, here’s one of my all-time fav kitchen photos. This kitchen needs this rug. Say to the rug, “You complete me.”

Apartment Therapy Rug in Kitchen

Imagine all these kitchens without the rug. They’d be missing more than just the rug.

Finally, from Southern Living, would this kitchen have the same personality without the rug? Yes the cabinet colors have personality-plus, but the rug takes them to another level:

Kitchen from Southern Living

Now for the cons.

Yes stuff can get spilled on them. Yes they can catch grease and oil particles from the air. But you can wash them. You can vacuum them. You can take them outside and hose them off and let them dry in the sunshine. You can buy lightweight kilims and dhurries and throw them in the washing machine. It doesn’t take much more time than cleaning the rest of the house. I think the benefits outweigh the need to occasionally clean them.

Now, regarding cleanliness, anyone who knows me would not call me a germophobe. I’m not gross and sloppy, but there’s far more important things to worry about on this planet than germs in kitchen rugs. Germs on your cutting board, a different issue! We’re talking the rug here.  Really, what do people think could happen to them by a germ getting on the rug? We cook nearly daily in our kitchen. Crumbs do fall on the rug. Liquids do get slopped on the rug (only very rarely). It’s all cleanable. I vacuum several times a week. Sometimes I need to get down on hands and knees and scrub. Only occasionally. The rug is also replaceable. That’s why I got inexpensive rugs.

Yes, rugs could slide and cause falls. You should prevent that with non-slip rug pads. I would say, don’t put a rug on a hard tile, concrete or wood surface without rug pads. There is also rug tape, and although I’ve never tried this, some like Martha Stewart recommend running lines of silicone caulk under rugs to make them slip-resistant. The rugs in our kitchen have had pads from Home Decorators Collection under them, and after 4,045+ days of living here, I’ve never slid on a rug once. I’d say that’s pretty good odds.

So … what do you think? Would you? Have you?

Check out more rugs in kitchens at my Pinterest board:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Rugs in Kitchens on Pinterest.

How to Find Your Style

If you’re ever questioning how to find your style, just simply look at what you like. But look at all the things you like all together, so you get one picture view. Before Pinterest, these might have been pages torn out of magazines, all laid out on a table.

1. Now with Pinterest, make a style board. 

As an example, go see my “Chicago Home – Decoration Inspiration *That I’m Serious About Doing* board. Ha ha. I’m serious about doing about 1,000 things! Need a bigger house. Lately I’ve obviously been into rugs. But there’s also paint colors, patterned furniture, decor accessories, fabrics, and lighting. Anything that I thought I’d truly want to live with in the house. There are definite style preferences there. You may or may not like my style. But if you collect a pin board like this too, your style will become obvious.

When you pin, don’t worry about money! You are not buying this stuff. There’s no credit card debt. They are only pins and pins are free. If you like it, pin it. This is only about finding your style. So don’t worry about prices. If you find you have taste above your income, no big deal, you can always find lower-price substitutes.

2. Scroll through your board and pull out your favorite pictures.

Don’t think too much. Go with your gut. What catches your eye and makes your heart beat a little faster? Hold back from second-guessing yourself. If your eye lingers on something a little longer, copy it or print it.

3. Put all  your pictures together. Your choices will show you your style.

It’s really simple. But you have to pull these pictures out and put them all together. Either print them on paper, or put them in Photoshop or a Word doc. Don’t try to put the total picture together only in your head. You won’t be able to literally “see” the style.

Put the pictures in a moodboard, or print them and lay them out on the floor or table. You should see some things the photos have in common.

A sample “how to find your style” moodboard: 

I followed the simple steps above and here’s my result. I shamelessly put some really expensive stuff on this moodboard. It’s not like I’m buying it. The rug is $47,000 after all! There is nothing wrong with liking it.

Nomadic Decorator Moodboard

As I’ve written about before, I’ve diagnosed my style as “Natural Nomadic Luxe.” Give your style a name that describes what you see. My style is global with some luxury like silks and gold, it’s pattern-full, with natural colors.

It’s an eclectic and elegant mix with things from different countries and cultures. It’s like an elegant bohemian look. Here is what’s on this global style moodboard:

A Nomad’s Holiday Gift Guide

Is there a frequent flier in your life, and you need gifts? Or maybe YOU are the frequent flier and you deserve the gift? It’s okay, treat yourself! When I go gift shopping, I’m all for the “2 for me, 1 for you” shopping. No offense! Mostly because the rest of the year, I shop for necessities not for fun.

Here are 5 things I pack when traveling and they’re all good gifts …

1. Travel Journal

Maybe I’m old school, but I think capturing memories in a travel journal is super important. The little snippets, things overheard, thoughts that pass through your mind … they fade over time. But not if you get them down on paper. That’s why journals like this Rifle Paper Co. travel notebook at ShopBop are a useful gift for the nomad:

Rifle Paper Co Travel Journal

Journals are good to have on hand when planning a trip too. You can write “things to do” ideas, addresses, phone numbers, draw little maps, everything you need is in your journal. I know we all have computers. But there’s something about writing on paper.

There are also classy leather-bound travel journals and I have more than a few of those full of travel memories. Here’s a leather journal from Amazon with a travel theme:

Classic Leather Travel Journal

At only 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, it’s small enough for light packing.

2. Lotion

Our skin takes a beating when we travel. I’m going to keep the solution simple. I LOVE Peter Thomas Roth All Day Moisture Defense Lotion. I’ve used it for years. I’ve used a lot of lotions, because I’m, hmmmm, 40-something, and my skin is drier. I hate most lotions, honestly. They don’t last more than an hour before you look dry again. They’re greasy. They leave a slick on your skin. Yuck! For me, the Peter Thomas Roth lotion sinks in, no greasy feeling, and they mean “all day” when they say “all day.” I don’t need to put lotion on again until the next morning. LOVE this stuff:

Peter Thomas Roth Lotion

I carry that lotion with me at all times just like I carry money at all times. It’s that great (at least for me it is). They have a smaller travel size but the 1.7 fl oz size has never been a problem for me to carry onto flights.


I like a pair of great big headphones on flights. Even short flights. I like the big cushy ones that cover your ears and surround you with sound. The earbuds that go in your ears feel uncomfortable and dinky. Noise cancelling headphones are great. Just plug in your music or movie and you’re ready for the travel time to fly by.

Now I’m not an expert on headphones. I have pricier Sennheiser headphones and they’re fine. I like them mostly because I can crank them up real loud and the people next to me on flights cannot hear anything. No sound leakage is important, because it’s really annoying to your fellow passengers. I do wish the bass was a little stronger. But I know I shouldn’t expect a concert hall in headphones. These look really cushy and comfortable for long flights:

Sennheiser Headphones

These are my Sennheiser headphones. They collapse small in a handbag:

Sennheiser Headphones for Travel

Bose is another often-recommended brand for travel headphones. You know Bose knows how to deliver big sound through small speakers. I don’t know about all the Dr. Dre headphones. But I’m probably not Dr. Dre’s target market!

4. Shawl or big scarf

A shawl is one of the most versatile accessories you can pack. There’s so many ways to use a shawl when traveling:

  • Layer of warmth on shoulders
  • Folded into a scarf
  • Blanket on the plane
  • Sarong at the beach
  • Dash of color and pattern for monochromatic capsule travel wardrobe
  • Tie over pants and t-shirt for different layered look

Here’s a few shawls from artisans at Novica …

By Novica artist Isha Jain in India, a cotton and silk shawl block printed by hand:

Novica Hand Block Printed Shawl from India

By Indian artist Sandeep Malhotra, this wool embroidered scarf at Novica is stylish and warm for winter travel. And at 70″ long and 26″ wide there’s plenty to cover:

Novica Wood Embroidered Indian Shawl

Okay this I might even grab for myself! See what I mean about “2 for me, 1 for you”! It’s another shawl by Sandeep Malhotra with embroidery on wool:
Novica Indian Wood Embroidered Shawl

Some of you may want more color! Well here it is, another wool shawl by Sandeep Malhotra – wild color florals:

Indian Wool Jamawar Shawl at Novica

When I travel, I pack mostly black – black pants and black tops – then I add shawls and scarves with colors and patterns and this makes the outfits less boring. I tend to not want a fashion show when I travel, I want to pack light, and that combo is my go-to solution.

It looks like Novica has more than 1,000 shawls to choose from!

5. Picture frame

We have pictures in our laptops, our phones, our Facebook, our Instagram. I think photos still belong in picture frames too. Print some out and keep them on your desk to motivate you for the next trip. I like really unique decorative frames, and I like to match the frame style to the trip.

This frame from Amazon might be good for someone who recently went on a European vacation:

Parisian Picture Frame

This is a special frame that elevates photos to another level. Literally:

Unique Picture Frame

For a frame that’s a gift, try to find something uncommon, something embellished, something in a different shape.

Something like this frame with embedded iridescent beads in colors is great for someone returning from an India trip, or Guatemala or Mexico, somewhere with colorful photos:

Iridescent Beads Picture Frame

What else is a good gift for travelers? Feel free to share in comments!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of compensation at no cost to you if you purchase after clicking the link. I post affiliate links when I’ve purchased from the company myself or used the product myself, and can confidently share the company or product. This helps offset the cost of running this blog for you!


Shhhhh … It’s for Adults Only

My dad sent an email a few months ago that said, “you won’t BELIEVE what your mom is doing!”

“What what WHAT?!” I said.

“She’s coloring in a coloring book!”

Oh. I thought it was gonna be something like, she’s dancing around in her underwear to a Shaun Cassidy album!

The next day I was in O’Hare airport and saw a big display of adult coloring books. Two signs in two days was enough evidence of a trend, no need to see a third sign on a third day. My parents caught this trend before I did! The New Yorker wrote about the trend, giving it sure-fire “adult credibility.”

Apparently it bothers people to see line drawings that aren’t colored in, so there’s a compulsion to fill them in. I understand. Look at this, how can you leave this scene as it is?

Johanna Basford Enchanted Forest

That is an Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford. According to Slate, her coloring books for adults have sold more than 1.5 million copies. Oh boy. Like I need another visual hobby!

And like many hobbies, it has benefits beyond making something pretty. It may reduce stress, and people say it feels good. Definitely people are drawn to the drawings (heh heh heh). According to Psychology Today a few months ago, five of the top 30 books on Amazon were adult coloring books! (Looks like that Psychology Today writer doesn’t like the adult coloring books but not everyone wants to get into meditation, and not everyone can draw these scenes from scratch. Let people have their fun!)

Here are some popular adult coloring books. There’s the Secret Garden by Johanna Basford:

Secret Garden Coloring Book by Johanna Basford

Here’s a coloring book with designs inspired by henna and mandalas:

Coloring book with henna and mandala designs

How about a book full of stress relieving patterns? We could all use some of that:

Stress Relieving Adult Coloring Book

Once you’ve chosen your coloring book(s), you need pencils and pens! Let’s add some color. Buy all the colors! Here’s a few “crowd sourced” best sellers on Amazon:

Sargent Art 50 Colored Pencils

Sargent Art Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books

Prismacolor Premier 48 Colored Pencils

Prismacolor Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring Books

Or you can get 24 Prismacolor colored pencils if you don’t need 48 colors. And of course you need a pencil sharpener!

Prismacolor Pencils and Pencil Sharpener

So … go ahead, be like a kid again and even color outside the lines if you want. This is a great project to do on a winter day or a rainy summer day with the kids too — a coloring book for them, a coloring book for you!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of compensation at no cost to you if you purchase after clicking the link. I post affiliate links when I’ve purchased from the company myself or used the product myself, and can confidently share the company or product. This helps offset the cost of running this blog for you!


Painted Moroccan Tables

I’m painting a Moroccan table right now (FINALLY doing the project posted about here), and while researching I found some painted Moroccan tables that are too good to not share. Mine will be very different than these, but these are pretty and colorful and so boho chic …

Bohemian Chic Painted Moroccan Tables



  1.  Treasures of Morocco on eBay
  2. Fikra
  3. Fikra
  4. Moroccan Accents on Etsy
  5. Lalhaveli-us on eBay