Category Archives: Accessories

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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Global Style: African Stools

Someone, somewhere online said that African stools have the perfect chunky look to contrast with many decorating styles. You need a surprising contrast to make a room interesting, and small furniture with a chunky tribal look can do that. Check out Justina Blakeney’s post about Afribo style — African + boho. You will see she added stools from Burkina Faso and Ethiopia to a room. She shows how these stools can be used in any style room.

Here is a home Justina decorated for charity, for female homeless veterans and their children. And what a beautifully-designed home this is, complete with that little African stool:

Justina Blakeney The Jungalow Designed Living Room

I always like to have a little table or stool nearby to set a drink, bowl or plate, or even lay a book. There’s always something that needs to be set down while you’re sitting on a sofa, and drinks on the floor often tip over and spill or break. Yeah there’s usually a coffee table, but you have to lean over further to pick up things. Maybe I’m lazy! I like a drink to be a few inches away. A little stool is perfect to set close to the couch without getting in the way.

These stools can also be extra seating when needed, without committing to big upholstered chairs. Set a few stools on the side, like you see in this IG post from one of my favorite stores, Tierra Del Lagarto in Scottsdale:

African Stools from Tierra Del Lagarto

There in the front are Senufo stools. I’ve written about Tierra Del Lagarto before because their style is my style. As you see here, they are masterful at mixing patterns! Every vignette they create is so full of life. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram to see the scenes they create in their store. And if you see something you love but you’re not near Scottsdale, they do ship.

I’ve spotted African stools in rooms created by Amber Interiors, like in this room she designed at Domaine:

African Stools Amber Interiors Design via Domaine

A pair could work at the foot of beds too — different than the usual long bench:

Senufo Stools at foot of bed

Here’s a dramatic example of Senufo stools in a home from House and Leisure in South Africa:

Senufo Stools House and Leisure South Africa

These look huge. Senufo stools are made in different sizes. I have noticed some for sale on eBay and they’re very short, like 5″ legs. So be sure to check the measurements if you purchase online.

Now, it’s important to say that “African stools” might be a misleading thing to call these. They are from Africa and they are stools, but Africa is a huge continent with many cultures, tribes and countries. I’ve posted Senufo stools here because I like that simple style the best. But there are other styles of stools from other African cultures too.

There is Bamileke from Cameroon. You’ve probably already seen stools like this used as seating and tables, because this style is common in mainstream catalogs and websites. This stool is Bamileke style, from World Market:

World Market Bamileke Table

Bamileke tables and stools have a criss-cross pattern like that. Here you see how this style stool or table can work in a room:

Bamileke Table

There’s Ashanti. I love these examples of Ashanti stools in more modern interiors. This is where you can see what I’m saying about using something unexpected to contrast with everything else in the room:

Ashanti Stool in Modern Room

If you have furniture similar to this, there’s no reason why you can’t put an Ashanti or other African stool in the room. Not everything has to be matchy-matchy.

Here’s an unexpected placement of an Ashanti stool:

Ashanti Stool in Bathroom

It adds the perfect bit of warmth to a black and white bathroom full of hard colder surfaces. I also love the mix of the African stool with the clearly Indian block print wallpaper — it looks like Les Indiennes style to me.

There’s Tonga. From Zimbabwe. This bold chunky style would bring a good contrast to many rooms. These Tonga stools are from SnobStuff:

Tonga Stools from SnobStuff

I would love a set of Senufo stools in my living room. Our living room is full of Southeast Asian, Indian and regular ol’ American stuff. It’s missing this chunky element. These stools can be a bit pricey, but occasionally you’ll find a seller who’s pricing lower than market because maybe they haven’t done their research, honestly. For sources, you can search “African stool” or be more specific with the type of stool you like such as “Senufo stool” or “Bamileke stool” at sources like:

Smaller independent shops that import from Africa are great sources. They’re often in larger cities, so if you live near a city, look for stores that import directly from Africa. These stools can be heavy and you’ll avoid shipping charges by buying from a local shop. Also, flea markets can be great sources. In Chicago, we have Randolph Street Market and there’s usually sellers of African imports there. Just search for your local big flea markets that might cater to a more design-savvy customer.

 



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Acoma Pottery

If you’ve lived or traveled in the Southwest U.S., you’ve likely seen Acoma pottery. I’ve been in Arizona for a few days and have been seeing it here. Then, with coincidental timing, Acoma pottery popped up in my email box today — Acoma pots from DARA Artisans. Enjoy these bold graphic designs, then I’ll tell you a bit about the pottery and Acoma Pueblo:

Acoma Pottery from DARA Artisans

A Lucario Acoma Pot at DARA Artisans

DARA Artisans Melissa Antonio Acoma Pottery

J Torivio Acoma Pot at DARA Artisans

You might think from the perfect symmetrical shapes, that this pottery is made on a spinning wheel. But actually, the traditional Acoma pottery vessels are built up with row upon row of tiny clay coils! It’s called “hand coiled” pottery. Then the coils are smoothed into the perfect shapes you see in the finished pots. I’ve taken a pottery class where we hand-built things with coils, and it takes tremendous skill to get a perfect smooth shape!

And what adds even more to the amazingness is the designs are hand-drawn. They’re so precise, but they’re not digital or stenciled. I can’t imagine the discipline and control it takes to draw these pots. As DARA Artisans explains, the artist divided the curved canvas of this pot into halves, quarters, eighths, and then sixteenths. And, she painted these precise shapes with a brush she makes from the yucca plant:

Dorothy Torivio Acoma Pot at DARA Artisans

Acoma Pot via DARA Artisans

You can see here there’s variety in the designs, but one commonality is that they are often symbols of nature and the cycles of life.

As explained by DARA Artisans, these pots are not just decorative. They were functional, used for storage and to carry water. A special shape was used to store seeds for planting. The pots that have just a small hole in the top were used for seeds, so the seeds were less likely to spill out. The seed pots are my favorite shape:

Rose Chino Garcia Acoma Pot at DARA Artisans

The black and white and bold graphic style of pottery is made by artisans at the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. The Acoma Pueblo is worth a visit if you’re ever in New Mexico. It’s about 60 miles west of Albuquerque. I visited many years ago and bought my own little Acoma pottery bowl there. The Pueblo is in a stunning location! It’s on top of this mesa with sheer cliff drop-offs:

Acoma Pueblo on a Mesa

It was smart to build here. They could see potential invaders from many miles away and had natural protection. You’ll realize why if you visit — you’ll be climbing “stairs” cut into the rock, all the way up the side of that cliff to reach the top!

If you’re interested in Acoma pottery, there’s the collectible pieces that are made the more traditional way, built up with coils, and they are more expensive. There is also Acoma pottery made with molds and pre-made clay pots and these have a lower cost. You can also find vintage Acoma pottery pieces for sale on eBay. I will warn though, check the dimensions when buying online, because these pots can be much smaller than you think they are from the photos.



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