DIY: Affordable Faux Fortuny Fabric

Have you ever lusted after Fortuny fabrics, the luxury Italian brand where pillows can cost $500+? I’ve written about Fortuny fabrics before — how they can be costly, and how you can frame inexpensive sample sizes of Fortuny fabrics and hang them on a wall as art. Because Fortuny fabrics are works of art.

I recently made my own DIY Fortuny-style pillows, with silk fabric, stencils and shimmery paint! Here’s two of them on my living room sofa:

DIY Faux Fortuny Fabric

Today I’ll share with you:

  • The tutorial showing how to DIY your own faux Fortuny fabric
  • Real Fortuny pattern inspiration
  • Stencils that will give you the Fortuny look


For the steps to paint this fabric, tips to get the luxury look, and a supplies list, click over to my guest post at Paint+Pattern blogzine:

Stenciled Fortuny Pillows Tutorial

Two things I suggest at the tutorial post to get the rich Fortuny look:

  1. Use real silk fabric. I found that a heavier silk taffeta looks nice. I think silk dupioni is too slubby-looking for the fine Fortuny look, and thinner silks like crepe de chine are too flimsy. Taffeta is just right.
  2. Use the Royal Design Studio Stencil Cremes. They give just the right amount of luxurious shimmer to look like Fortuny.

Here you can see a close-up of the Stencil Cremes on my silk taffeta and silk velvet:

Royal Design Studio Stencil Cremes

Real Fortuny Pattern Inspiration

Now here are examples of real Fortuny fabrics, to give you some inspiration:

Fortuny Patterns

I think Fortuny’s damask patterns, like those shown above, give the classic antique and vintage Fortuny look. They also have tribal and Moroccan-inspired patterns, so there is variety to the Fortuny style.

Stencils to get the Fortuny look

It’s not a surprise that stencils can give you the Fortuny look, because Fortuny uses stencils. Here are a bunch of recommended stencils, all from Royal Design Studio, that can give you the classic Fortuny style.

First, for my pillows I used the Corsini Damask Stencil size Small and Damask Modern Masters Stencil:

Royal Design Studio Damask Stencils

Here are a few more ideas:

Delicate Floral Wall Stencil (left) and Donatella Damask Stencil (right):

Royal Design Studio Stencils

Encantada Damask Wall Stencil (left) and Florentine Damask Wall Stencil (right):

Royal Design Studio Damask Stencil

Fortuny Wall Stencil (left) Isle of Palms Damask Wall Stencil (right):

Royal Design Studio Damask Stencils


I think all of these would give you a Fortuny look! Now, some stencils cost more than others so you may also want to choose a stencil based on your project and whether you would re-use the stencil for other projects. I made three pillows for my living room sofas, and I’m sure I’ll be using these stencils again in the future. You can also stencil on bigger pieces of fabric to make bigger things:

  • Recover chair cushions
  • Make a long bench cushion
  • Stencil on a duvet
  • Make a wall hanging
  • Stencil on curtains

Royal Design Studio often runs sales. Sign up for their email list to get notices!

When stenciling on fabric, I recommend that you use a textile medium. It’s a liquid that you mix with paint so that the paint will stay softer and pliable after it dries, instead of crunchy feeling. You can find textile medium near the acrylic paints in a craft store. I also give more tips for using textile medium in the “faux Fortuny” tutorial post at Paint+Pattern — check it out!


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DIY Project: Silk Lined Picture Frame

Wow, I never thought I’d go nearly a month without posting. Over the six years blogging here, that’s the longest break. The truth is I’m suffering from a dis-ease. The dis-ease of being busy. Oh so, so busy. This article is an interesting reminder that we’re supposed to be human beings, not human doings.

Though I do like to do. I like “do it yourself” projects for the fun of it, when I’m not busy being busy. And today, here is an easy, fast DIY project I made recently that appears somewhere in this room:

DIY Silk Lined Picture Frame

Here’s a clue. I thought the area above the sofa looked boring with only the big mirror there. This is how it looked for 12 years!

Before Wall

I like to keep things simple, but it was time for a change.

I made a silk-lined picture frame to display tribal brass spoons that I found at My Dream Canvas. If you love brass pieces from India, Anu at the My Dream Canvas blog and shop has beautiful brass collectibles!

Where did the idea to line a picture frame with silk come from? Well, I had silk left over from another project. And I remembered silk-lined wall niches I saw in Thailand, and how they can add rich color to a wall.

Jim Thompson House Wall Niches WSJ

Those wall niches add so much color to this room in the Jim Thompson house in Bangkok.

Why not get the same look by lining a frame with silk?

Here are supplies you would need:

Silk-Lined Picture Frame Supplies

l found a deep picture frame because I needed a frame deep enough for the brass spoons. You can also use a shadowbox.

Deep Picture Frame

Iron your silk, if needed, so it is smooth.

First, cover the backing of the frame with silk. Pull the silk taut over a solid backing like foam core board or thick cardboard. Tape the silk in place on the back side. I used blue painters tape because there was a roll sitting literally right behind me, and I was too lazy to search all over the house for more appropriate tape. I know there is a lot of tape in here! I just can’t find it when I need it!

Silk Covered Frame Backing

For the sides of the frame, I just needed tiny strips, because my frame wasn’t super deep. I found basswood that’s so lightweight, I could cut it to size with scissors!

Cutting Strips to Size

Testing Size of Strips

Cut pieces of silk and pull the silk around your side pieces, and tape the silk in place on the side that will be pressed against the frame (it won’t show).

Covering Side Strips

Because my strips were so thin, I was working with small everything, including skinny slivers of tape.

I did not use glass, but if you want glass, place your frame with the front laying face down. Place the glass in the frame. You are next going to glue the side strips in, and this is going to make the glass difficult to remove later, so be careful to not break the glass.

Next, run a line of glue along the sides of the frame, and push the silk-covered pieces into place against the glue.

Gluing Silk Strips Into Frame

Then assemble your objects or artwork on the silk-covered backing. I actually did this after my frame was finished and hanging on the wall, because I didn’t use glass. So if you don’t use glass, you can assemble your display later.

Push your silk-covered backing against the silk-covered strips on the sides, and tape the backing to the frame. Again, I used blue painters tape. Because it was convenient and it works.

Blue Tape

I think this silk-lined frame idea is great for displaying objects. It gives them a nice colorful background, and silk fabric elevates the luxe factor and makes things look more expensive.

Silk Lined Picture Frame

Picture Frame with Silk Lining

Here’s the frame on the wall, and here you see how the orange silk ties in with the pillows on the sofa and other things in the room:

DIY Silk Lined Picture Frame

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Don’t Read My Blog While Driving

Do you think that’s a crazy headline? Who would do that? Well someone has! Someone recently commented and said she read one of my blog posts on her phone, while sitting at a red light.

What?! It’s just design, decorating and paint here. It’s not that important. I am happy you are reading here! But please visit while sitting in a chair, couch or bed. Please don’t read while sitting in a car, even at a red light.

You may know me here as a decorating and DIY blogger. But this blog is not my job. My full-time job is … guess it! … preventing distracted driving! I work on preventing distraction from technology like our cell phones and dashboard infotainment systems. I’ve worked on traffic safety for 20+ years and distracted driving for the past 7 years. I’ve reviewed about 600 fatal and serious injury crashes involving cell phones. These crashes really do happen. A lot. So I was shocked to see someone read my blog while driving.

This month, April, is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Nearly everyone knows it’s dangerous to use phones while driving.* So why do people still do it? A lot of people think it won’t happen to them.

And a lot of us are trying to squeeze things in while driving because we’re too busy. We brag about our busy-ness. “How are you?” “Oh, soooo busy!” You know how that conversation goes!

Personally I love that my car is an escape. It’s an escape from the electronic communications coming at me 24/7 from my phone, computers and TV. Research shows listening to music is not very distracting to us (as long as you’re not lip-syncing on video while driving like Sam and Nia, don’t even get me started!) and if music helps you be less stressed or bored while driving, that’s good. I have great speakers and an amplifier in my car and it sounds like a concert hall. It makes driving easier. I protect my time in the car as time to re-charge my energy. It’s a time to take a break from all the communicating.

Why not “Take Back Your Drive” this month? Put the phone away and just drive. Drive more peacefully. Try it for 30 days. You may find there are benefits to that! A lot of skeptical people try it, then find they’re more rested, creative ideas pop in their minds, and if you’re driving with children, it’s a time to connect as family.

If you try it, I’d love to hear how it went, but please don’t comment while driving! ;)


* Nearly everyone knows texting while driving is dangerous. Most people still don’t know that hands-free talking and voice control features are distracting! If you’re curious, click here to learn more about all that.


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India pied-à-terre Update: The Great Headboard Debate

What can happen if your bed doesn’t have a headboard? Is it really a terrible thing to not have a headboard? Will you really get a circle of hair oil on the wall from leaning on the wall? Will you really smack the top of your brain on the wall and render yourself useless to the world, unable to earn an income, and fated to a life of being hungry, nearly-naked and homeless? All because of a missing headboard? We are having this debate.

Husband: Definitely a proponent of the headboard. Must protect the brain at all costs.

Me: Steadfast on no headboard. Design is more important than protecting the brain. Of course!!

Because, this:

India pied a terre Master Bedroom Wall Paint Inspiration

That’s the inspiration photo for the master bedroom of the India pied-à-terre. A design inspired by those mother-of-pearl doors will be painted on the wall, behind the bed. Here’s the current state of the design when I left the India pied-à-terre in September 2015:

Beginning of Wall Feature

Yeah I know, looks nothing like the inspiration! Yet! It’s the first coat of many, many layers of paint and perhaps other things like metallic foils and leaf. I have the stencils, I’ve been painting samples. Here’s a stencil after I was playing with metallic foils (I may build up more foil and pattern on the stencil itself then cut it and frame it, why not!):

Foil on Stencil

Just get me to India, and give me enough time to finish the design — it will happen!

Here’s the thing … you can’t block any of this with a headboard! Right?

I’m standing ground on being a “no headboard hold-out” in the interest of design integrity. Now, I’m not saying we put the mattress on the floor, like the inspiration photo, which I believe was a styled situation for a Vogue photo shoot, not a real permanent set-up. The mattress should be on a platform. But a platform without a headboard.

It’s hard to find a bed without a headboard. Like, 99.8% of modern beds in India have headboards. People really need to think more flexibly! So as a compromise, I’m seeking beds that have a removable headboard, or if you have to assemble the bed, a headboard you don’t have to attach to maintain structural integrity of the bed. This means lots of hours of life scrutinizing bed diagrams on Indian furniture websites — not what I expect to do with the dwindling hours of the rest of my expected lifespan. But this is how important no headboard is to me!

See, like this one from seems to have an easily removable headboard:

FabFurnish Bed

That headboard could even be turned into a console table top, so it’s not wasted.

This, my friends, is ideal:

FabFurnish Mattress Base

This might be even better:

FabFurnish Platform Bed

Yes it’s boring! But wait! Do I leave any surface untouched? I will paint tote bags from Old Navy for cripe’s sake. Give me a plain glass table top and I will paint under the glass to make it gorgeous. So you know this bed won’t stay plain!

I’ll be painting and stenciling the base of the bed. See these wooden printing blocks:

Indian Printing Blocks

I want to turn them into stencils, and then use the stencils to apply raised shapes onto the bed base, then paint it to make an old antiqued look. The process will be similar to what I did on this cabinet in my bedroom in Chicago:

Painted Embossed Cabinet

So the bed base will look like carved wood that you often find in India. I think making this vision a reality will be a fun DIY! I like the idea of applying block print patterns to surfaces other than fabrics, in different ways.

The room will eventually have layers of various patterns, but the wall feature will be the star of the show. All other patterns will be more subtle like the supporting characters of the room.

I see it all in my head.

What I don’t see is a headboard.

My husband made one point that gave me pause to … maybe consider, possibly not but really … what if you lean on the wall and over time make a circle of hair oil on the wall? Like I used to see on the back wall of classrooms in college. Yuck! His concern was for the protection of the painted design on the wall. After all that painting work, would I want a circle of head oil on it? Well, no! But here’s the thing. Are we really going to be sitting there leaning against the wall? I don’t think so. India is not an easy place for me. I crash at the end of the day. I want my head to meet a soft pillow, immediately! My husband argued he might read in bed. But is he really going to read with his head leaning against the wall, which means he’d be looking straight ahead and thus holding a book way up, arms sticking straight up, and very unnaturally? I don’t think so? I have never seen him do that in the nearly 20 years I’ve known him.

Also, pillows don’t need to be propped up against a headboard. Pillows are fine laying flat on the bed. Pillows really don’t care what they are doing.

So, no, I am not yet convinced we need a headboard.

Stay tuned in the future to see how this room shakes out!


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Global Style: Blue-Green Color

Maybe it’s because I live near Chicago, and it’s the tail end of winter and after being surrounded by brown, gray and white it’s time for blues and greens and all the glorious flower colors of spring. Let’s go on a color trip around the world in search of these gorgeous fresh blues and greens …

In the Tangier home of architect Roberto Peregalli, featured in World of Interiors:

Moroccan Tiles in Tangier via World of Interiors

Another Moroccan scene, this time a riad belonging to Countess Marta Marzotto, featured in the Wall Street Journal:

Marta Marzotto Moroccan Riad via WSJ

Just, whoa!

Blue Green

I think I photographed this in one of my design magazines picked up in Thailand, maybe Elle Decoration. This is muted with some yellow and brown, in a bathroom in Bangkok:

Bathroom in Bangkok

If I remember right, it’s in a guesthouse in Bangkok so you could possibly lounge in this tub too!

Featured in Zsa Zsa Bellagio, English designer David Hare mixes Islamic textiles with antique furniture and aged paint finishes:

Interior Designer David Hare

Actress Lupita Nyong’o lounges at El Fenn riad in Marrakech, where even bathrooms are colorful. Via Vogue:

Lupita at El Fenn via Vogue

The Vogue interview shares an interesting detail — that Lupita brought a Pinterest board of fashion ideas to a meeting with her stylist. In small ways, maybe the stars are like us.

Here are gorgeous threads in a sewing machine in New Delhi, captured by Sibella Court and shared on Instagram:

Threads in New Delhi viz Sibella Court Instagram

Now if all the All Saints windows had threads in the sewing machines like this, I would stand up and pay more attention!

I hope you enjoyed this trip through this refreshing color!

Now if you want this color in your home, here’s a way to get it … Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan in Florence color, a small touch of Antibes green, a light wash of Aubusson blue:

Chalk Paint Blues and Greens

You could swath a wall with these colors, or paint a chest of drawers. Just a little bit of this color could go a long way to lifting your spirits in springtime.

A rug is another easy way to get a dash of these colors. Look for a rug with these blues and greens like this Veda Rug from One Kings Lane:

Veda Rug from One Kings Lane


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India’s Textiles Go High Fashion

What happens when Roberto Cavalli, Burberry, Missoni and Christian Louboutin get ahold of India’s textiles? Fashion magic happens! Vogue’s Project Renaissance paired the world’s most famous fashion designers with fabrics like Benarasi brocades and Kanchipuram silk sarees. Although we know the famous fashion brands, we don’t know the names of the weavers of these fabrics unfortunately, as they are just as much artisans and geniuses of design. Here are the results of this celebration of India’s textiles …

My personal favorite is what Christian Louboutin did with Kanchipuram silk, the “wedding saree” fabric from South India:

Christian Louboutin Kanchipuram Silk Saree Fabric Bootie

I don’t know if this is what was intended, but what I see here in the gold spikes is an edgy homage to the real gold threads that are often woven through Kanchipuram sarees. Yes, real gold woven in fabric!

Although the iconic zig-zags of Missoni are a pattern you will find in India, Missoni broke from that tradition and used Chikankari to create a dress that could fit in at a New York City evening event:

Missoni Chikankari

Chikankari means “embroidery” and is from the artistic city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India. It’s a delicate embroidery usually done on lightweight fabrics. Usually I see it on beige fabrics where it feels cool and summery. Here on this red dress, it looks so lush and rich.

From Nazrana Chikan, here’s a detailed view of the complexity of this embroidery:

Nazrana Chikan Embroidery

Of course Burberry made a trench coat, of Maheshwari silk:

Burberry Maheshwari Silk Trench

You can see how the silk was layered to build it up into a substantive fabric.

I love this little ETRO jacket. If you have a small piece of a treasured textile found while traveling, sewing a little jacket is a great way to use it:

ETRO and Indian Textiles

And Roberto Cavalli. Who would guess it’s a Rajasthani bandhini (also called bandhani) fabric?

Roberto Cavalli Bandhini Fabric

I’ve always believed textiles from India can be used in Western fashion silhouettes.

One of my favorite fabrics of India is Benarasi brocades, and here’s how Jimmy Choo turns it into a shoe:

Jimmy Choo Indian Benarasi Brocade Shoe

From Prabal Gurung, another creation from Benarasi brocade and an example of shaping these fabrics into a very different silhouette than you usually see for this fabric, but it works:

Prabal Gurung Benarasi Brocade

See the full story and all the designers’ creations at Conde Nast Traveller India.


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Global Style: Necklace Displays

In the Marrakech souks, I was drawn to these chunky beaded and silver necklaces — you can see big displays of these everywhere in the souks:

Beaded Necklaces in Marrakech Souks

Yeah, I know it’s hard to focus here, there’s so much to see. It got overwhelming because everywhere you turned, there were scenes like this. I was able to focus and find a few things to buy in this shop, which was my first experience with negotiating in the Marrakech souks. Even though I probably still paid way too much, this man was nice and made the experience fun! It was like bargaining anywhere else, especially in Thailand where they make it a fun game.

Marrakech Souk Shopkeeper

But I didn’t buy any necklaces. Why? I know I wouldn’t ever wear them. Often we see things on vacation that are great in that vacation setting, but when we get back home to our regular lives, these things just don’t fit. The colors don’t go in our house, the style doesn’t go with our everyday work clothes, etc. It’s like getting back to the reality of our lives, versus what we’d like our lives to be when we’re on vacation. Maybe I’d like to be a bohemian babe who wears piles of these necklaces with caftans and I drift barefoot along long sunlit hallways all day, caftan fabric flowing and chunky beads clanking.

That is a magazine shoot. Or an Instagram shoot, more likely nowadays! It is not me or my real life. More likely I’m in a beige office in a basic all-black outfit, responding to email, or reading and highlighting a scientific paper and writing lots of notes in the margins, before I run to the next meeting of the day.

So. Felt like a fantasy just came crashing down there.

So I did not buy chunky beaded necklaces in the Marrakesh souks. But one night there, while at Le Tanjia restaurant, I spotted something. Something on the wall:

Le Tanjia Framed Necklace

My apologies the photo is so bad, but Le Tanjia is lit entirely with pierced metal lanterns so the atmosphere is dark and shadowy, and I may have had several strong mojitos before snapping this!

But you get the idea. Necklaces can be works of art. So why not treat them like works of art? Why not frame them and hang them? You can use shadowboxes for thick beaded necklaces like this. Here’s a few more framed necklaces I found online — this framed look is especially good with tribal necklaces with big style and personalities. These are from Neiman Marcus (left) and Amalthee Creations (right):

Framed Necklaces from Neiman Marcus and Amalthee Creations

Choose simple frames and matting to let the necklace be the visual focus.

You can drape necklaces on a vintage dress form. Put a plain dress or tunic on the dress form so the spotlight is on the necklace. This necklace was sold by Etsy shop MorningDoveDesign:

Necklace on Vintage Dress Form from Etsy Shop MorningDoveDesign

It appears these necklaces have sold, but this Etsy shop has many other beaded necklaces.

You could go crazy-nutso and pile a whole bunch of necklaces on a small vintage-style dress form that’s sized to display necklaces on a dresser or tabletop:

Necklace Display on Tabletop Dress Form

You could also pile beaded necklaces in bowls. Here’s a pile of old beaded necklaces I spotted in a bowl at the Antique and Garden Fair at Chicago Botanical Gardens:

Beads Piled in a Bowl

For a neutral look, here are strung African beads piled in a rustic industrial bowl that I saw at Randolph Street Market in Chicago years ago:

African Beads in Rustic Industrial Bowl

If these were turquoise, amber or carnelian color beads, the color pop could be really interesting.

If you come back from a vacation with jewelry that you feel doesn’t fit into your regular everyday life, try framing it or piling it in a bowl. Or display it some other way. This way, whenever you look at the jewelry, you can get the vacation fantasy and feeling back in your life, if even for a moment!

I seem to make a Pinterest Board for everything, and I made a board to collect ideas for displaying necklaces. Check it out for more ideas:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Necklace Displays on Pinterest.


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