Category Archives: Furniture

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.



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Secret Ingredient for a Well-Traveled Room

These rooms all have a common element, but one that’s a bit uncommon. Can you guess what it is?

Moroccan Inlaid Table

Inlaid Side Tables via House Beautiful Tables from E Kenoz

Inlaid Accent Table

Moroccan Inlaid Side Tables

Interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard (my favorite designer who I met last year!) often uses this design element in rooms:

Childrens Room Designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Inlaid Table Martyn Lawrence Bullard Designed Room

Cher Indian Fantasy Home

By now you’ve probably figured it out.

All these rooms have little inlaid tables, like accent tables or side tables, that you can get from Morocco, Turkey, Syria, Egypt or India. You can get them new, vintage or antique. They’re often meticulously made with mother of pearl or bone.

These tables are a sure bet to add that well-traveled look, like “yeah we’ve been somewhere, and we’ve seen some things.” Because you don’t get exposed to the idea and find a table at a regular ol’ Midwestern mall, that’s for sure. I grew up with the JC Penney and Sears catalogs (yeah that just really dated me) and I can tell you, nothing like this was in those catalogs!

So where do you find these tables? I’ll share a few ideas with you at high, medium and low price points. And you can also DIY the inlaid table look.

From Ballard Designs, the Marrakech Side Table regular $399, on sale for $299:

Ballard Designs Marrakech Side Table

Marrakech Side Table from Ballard Designs Bone Inlay

eKenoz has a range of prices for inlaid tables, from $275 t0 quite a few around $499-550 with the priciest at $1,100 right now. Here’s a sample of their big range of styles:

eKenoz Moroccan Syrian Turkish Inlaid Tables

Wisteria carries some styles, like this graphic art deco-ish version with bone inlay:

Wisteria Bone Hexa Side Table

You can sometimes find pricier high-quality versions at One Kings Lane and 1stdibs.

There are some gorgeous tables at Akbik, and their prices reflect their handmade nature. When I’m shopping for furniture, I often look at versions that are above my price range to see what makes good quality and design, then once seeing that, try to find the best possible that I can afford. Here are breathtaking tables at Akbik:

Mother of Pearl Inlaid Tables from Akbik

So if you like the “global well-traveled” style, I hope this unveiled a secret that would instantly make your room look a touch exotic.



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Mud Cloth + Mid Century

Can mud cloth from Mali and “MCM” — also known as Mid Century style — go together? Can they live happily together in one piece? Well, let’s see. Here’s what mud cloth looks like, if you’re not sure what I’m talking about:

Mudcloth at Museum of Natural History

That’s a mudcloth I “designed” with a fun interactive feature on the Museum of Natural History’s website, where you can make your own mudcloth – check it out. As you go through it, it tells you how mud cloth is made and the meaning behind the designs.

Mud cloth is also called Bògòlanfini. It’s made with strips of cotton cloth sewed together, and then painted with patterns that have significant cultural meanings that tell a story. It’s painted with fermented mud gathered from riverbeds, thus the name mud cloth. It can take weeks of work to make one mud cloth.

I own a few pieces of mud cloth. One found this summer at Chicago’s Randolph Street Market (there’s always some there from a vendor who sells wares from Africa) and a large piece I found at the famous Mustapha Blaoui store in Marrakech last month. At that TripAdvisor link about the store, you’ll see a review by Starr Covey Perry who was with our group and I snapped photos of her buying her rug! It is indeed a beautiful rug. Now I’m kicking myself for not buying a rug. But I did get mud cloth which was one thing I wanted to find and I knew Mustapha Blaoui had it:

Mud Cloth Patterns

This might be CRAZY, but I want to replace the black vinyl on this Mid Century style chair with mud cloth:

Mid Century Chair Makeover

I can’t help but think of Mid Century as a hipster style thing. But I got this chair 20 years ago when I was hipster age and went through a Mid Century stage! Unfortunately I did not treat this chair well. The white plastic was scratched and to cover that, I spray painted it with that faux stone-look paint. Like THAT’S an improvement? I thought it looked cool at the time, 20 years ago. Maybe in 20 more years I’ll look back at this mud cloth phase and wonder, what was I thinking putting mud cloth on that chair? But I’m gonna do it. So that’s a DIY post coming soon.

So has anyone else mixed mud cloth and Mid Century? (Is it too geeky to say MC²?)

Yes! Some people have …

Here’s mud cloth on a stool with Mid Century style. It’s now sold, but it was from Etsy shop ChezBoheme:

Mudcloth and MCM at Etsy Shop ChezBoheme

Apartment Therapy reported on a collaboration between Philadelphia design company HYM Salvage and Urban Outfitters that resulted in this version of “mud + mod”:

HYM Salvage and Urban Outfitters Mud Cloth and Mid Century Modern Chair

And they made this stool/ottoman:

HYM-Salvage-and-Urban-Outfitters-Mud-Cloth-and-Mid-Century-Modern-Ottoman

And this chair, with sleek metal detail that contrasts with the handmade cloth:

Urban Outfitters Mudcloth and Mod Chair

A piece of mudcloth is simply draped over a bench, to add pattern and color at Design Manifest. I like how they mixed the geometric mud cloth with the pillow pattern:

Mud Cloth and Bench at Design Manifest

Here’s a pair of 1950’s brass stools upholstered vintage mud cloth. Now sold but was at 1stdibs. I think it works because the lines in the mud cloth are similar to the Sputnik-y stool legs:

50s Brass and Vintage Mud Cloth

Via Rent Patina, how about these two examples of chairs upholstered with mud cloth – one is a wingback, the other like Danish Modern or Mid Century:

Mud Cloth on Chairs via Rent Patina

Here’s a different view:

Mud Cloth Chair via Rent Patina

This is a 1970s chair with a sexy sculptural shape, paired with mud cloth. Chair now sold, but was at 1stdibs:

Mud Cloth Chair Sold at 1stDibs

Here’s a mud cloth pillow on a Nelson bench, a classic Mid Century piece, snapped by Instagrammer xnasozi (you can also buy mud cloth pillows from her shop):

Mud-Cloth-on-Mid-Century-Nelson-Bench-via-Instagrammer-xnasozi.jpg

So it seems that yes, “mud” and “mod” can be paired together!

Watch for a DIY coming here soon where I reupholster the black vinyl on my Mid Century chair with white plastic curves reminiscent of Eero Saarinen style. The chair is a relic I still own from the days in my 20s when I worshipped Mid Century. I’m not into Mid Century now but this chair is so cute and comfortable, I could never let it go. So we’ll see if I can weave together favorite styles from the past and present!

 



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