There’s a question mark in the title because I think this will become a trend in the U.S., but I don’t think it’s a trend yet. It’s a trend when it rampages across the country into living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms everywhere. I think right now it is stepping onto the shores, testing the waters, seeing if it will be accepted.
What is it?
layers of global patterns in whites
Whites in different shades, lighter, darker, clean, dusty, all mixed together
Patterns inspired by India, Bali, Morocco, Spain and beyond, all mixed together
The origins of this look are shown in this image that I shared back in 2013, from Maisons du Monde:
I shared this image in a post called Scandinavian White Interiors with an Indian Twist. And this white layered patterns “potential trend” is exactly that — a mix of global style with Indian, Moroccan, Indonesian, Lamu style and more all in the same room.
The look is created with:
Carved white-washed wood
Round turned wood shapes
Embroidered and printed patterned textiles
Pierced metal lanterns
Woven patterns in lampshades, baskets, sisal rugs
For the tension that makes things interesting, mix elegant swirls and florals with thick rustic chunky shapes. White colors tie it all together.
Someone said to me that if you want to know what’s coming soon to the U.S., look at what’s popular in Australia. My Instagram has been full of white layered patterns from many Australian companies, especially in the Byron Bay area which is on the west coast of Australia, between Brisbane and Syndey.
Here’s a few Instagrammers to watch if you want to get schooled on this style …
Bisque Traders imports to Australia from around the world and while they’re introducing more color lately, the roots of their aesthetic is in rustic whites:
Alabaster Trader has the look, especially with their carved and mirrored white-washed wood consoles and damchiyas from India which you can order online at their shop:
The Ha’veli of Byron Bay is where you can see the look in action, warmed up with some darker browns:
They also have an online shop where you can get the look.
While the Grove at Byron Bay Instagram account is no longer active, it has an archive of photos that show this layered white pattern look, blended with boho macrame and woven reeds:
As shown here at The Grove in Byron Bay, you don’t have to have everything in every room be patterned. Here the background is white, the pots are white, even the rocks in the pots are white, and the glorious enormous mirror brings the patterns:
Seeing these images over the last few years definitely influenced my thinking for our apartment in Chennai, India. As I’ve written about here previously, I’m keeping the apartment mostly white-walled so it’s bright, calm and soothing. But what is India without the searing bright pinks, oranges and blues? I bought pillows and fabrics with those iconic Indian colors. But they didn’t feel like they delivered the soothing feeling that I want. I think those colors will wind up piled on a four-poster canopied daybed in the guest room. The rest of the place will look like this mock-up:
During my recent One Room Challenge room re-design, I felt like I chose unpopular colors, to be honest. I still chose them, because they are what I love and I want to live with. But I’m not choosing the cool grays, whites and ocean blues that people love so much. I like warmth on the wall, so I like beige. Not greige. Beige. But is beige uncool? There are many beiges. I have learned from Maria Killam’s color blog all about the very uncool “pink beige.” I now try to analyze undertones and avoid the pink-ish beiges. My house is full of pink beige from the previous owners and our own previous years’ decisions, though.
Anyway, it’s easy in today’s world of online sharing to second guess your color decisions, especially when you are a home decor blogger or Instagrammer. I recently saw a story about people painting their rooms white because white rooms perform well on Instagram. Well, I fill my rooms with beige and various warm orangey and paprika colors. One room has lots of red. Maybe it’s because I’m an Aries, a fire sign?
I checked into color trends for 2018, to see if I am really woefully off track with color tastes. Or, maybe I’ve been ahead of the curve?
Sherwin Williams gives some background behind inspiration for their color palettes, ranging from minimalism and hygge, to artisanal crafts and indigenous patterns, to California Pop and environmentalism.
Spice. I see many warm spice colors. Colors of cumin, tamarind, cayenne, curry, paprika.
Bohemian. 2018 trends include many of the boho chic colors that are on textiles from South America, Morocco and Asia – popular fabrics right now.
Warm white. The whites are warm. And yes we see beiges there!
Desert. There are desert colors, muted desert ochres and oranges, but I don’t foresee Southwestern style, I see global nomadic desert like the Sahara and the dusty desert cities of Rajasthan. Camel. Sand. Of course, call me very biased about the global nomadic idea, you might be right!
Jungalow. Many greens, from clear greens to muted greens. A whole garden of green. I see dirt colors and leaves. Is that the Jungalow style brought to us by Justina Blakeney?
Blues. Yes we still have the blues. Blues of one kind or another will always be around. In 2018, teal blues will be popular.
So, because of the prominence of spice and desert colors, my favorite paint color preferences — which really come from spice jars with some teal accent — might not be all that out of step right now!
Do you see your favorite colors in the 2018 forecast?
Wow. It’s unbelievable that I made it to today, to the reveal! I was “thisclose” to dropping out of the One Room Challenge when the original room I was working on — our basement — flooded. At first, I couldn’t see beyond that big basement space. My greedy craft supply-hoarding self wanted that space for a studio. But, if I wanted a studio at all, I needed to find a different room. So I pivoted halfway through the ORC and turned our guest room into a temporary creative studio. See links to the previous weeks’ drama here.
Let’s get right to the photos, because I know that’s why you’re here! I’ve filled the space with many things that creatively inspire me: patterns, textiles, travel mementos, favorite design books and magazines. I appreciate things from cultures and countries around the world, and this room’s style reflects that.
I painted this rug with stencils (all sources are provided at the end of the post) and I admit I had hesitations about the color. It’s mostly brown, with some streaks of color. But I wondered if I should be more colorful. When I was honest with myself and motivations for adding more color, it seemed like I wanted to do that for better photos, or because blue is popular and is great for social media and Pinterest pins. But, I know the effect I wanted to achieve in this room was a neutral background with lots of pattern. So I decided to stick with the plan.
I probably shouldn’t call this a “daybed” because it is a futon. There are a few ideas here that show how to dress up a futon. First, I draped a thick upholstery fabric over the futon. You can even sew a new futon cover from a really nice thick upholstery, but for now I just draped it over. Then smother it with pillows! Really smother it! I sewed these pillow covers with nice high quality down/feather inserts. It’s luxurious feeling. I’m finding my cats are nestling in these pillows every day, and I’m not getting any chance to sit on this. I had to keep the door closed before taking photos, to keep them off so this looks nice for photos.
This is where I can curl up with a coffee and flip through my favorite design books and magazines, and dream up ideas for future projects.
All walls in this room were this deep terra cotta color. While the color felt like a warm hug and made me dream of Mediterranean holidays, it was also very dark. It wasn’t a good color for studio walls. It was time for a change. So I painted nearly all the walls with a light “old wall” effect. But I couldn’t let this terra cotta color go completely!
Here is more detail in the antique print of Indian patterns, from 1873. Surprise, it even includes the deep terra cotta color that I adore.
The textiles draped over the ladder are a mix of Japanese kimono fabrics, a silk jacquard from India, and silk Bursa from Turkey. This is my space to inspire new creativity, and few things inspire me more than a mix of fabrics from around the world.
I was really into graphic design and fonts early in my career, back in the ’90s. I saved this direct mail piece, and after all this time, this is nearly bonafide vintage:
Can you believe these succulents are not real? It’s true. I found them at Jo-Ann. They carry several different types of faux succulents and these were the most realistic. They have a dusty fuzz where nature would put it. They have little bits underneath like where old leaves fell off or got cut off. Textured stems. All the real details.
One more shot here, because I love combos of texture + pattern. The pattern in the ceramic planter, plus the Kuba cloth peeking out, these inspire me to think outside the box and mix things together.
Before I reveal the craft space, a few words about the portable tables and chairs. I know they will never be on a top 10 decorating list, but they suit some needs, so please don’t judge! I tried to make them blend in visually by painting them all the same color. The tables were a deep forest green! I already owned the tables and chairs, and one of my goals with this makeover was to use things that were sitting un-used around the house. The tables and chairs were the perfect solution for two important functional needs of this room:
Portability. They can easily be folded up and moved to storage when we have guests or when I want room to work on the floor. My heart would love a rustic wood table with lots of character, but that would be heavier and much more difficult to break down and move when needed.
Flexibility. I have four folding tables. There are only two tables in the room now for photography purposes. But two, three or four tables can work in many configurations in this room, depending on what I’m doing and whether I need to accommodate family or friends working in here too. I can make a big block of tables. I can make rows. I can make a big U-shape. I can pull the tables close to the daybed and sit there. I value the flexibility.
The table looks a little messy, but I styled it like “real life” as if I were working here.
To describe where this is in the room, the daybed I shared above is immediately to the right. I can sit on the comfy daybed and work at these tables. And as you see in a peek here, my fabulous teal blue Indian-Moroccan closet nook is to the left.
I have loaded this little table space and the wall above with patterns and textures that are inspiring to me.
My blog is called Nomadic Decorator because I surround myself with things found during travels, like these old riad keys I found deep in the souks in the Marrakech medina:
These are pretty embellished cards I found during a trip to India:
Things on my moodboard:
Miniature Indian paintings found during a trip to India:
I am currently painting papers with acrylics so they look like old walls, as background papers for collage and layering. I am obsessed with ochres and sienna colors, and pinks and salmons of cities like Marrakech and Jaipur. And I am obsessed with niches, arches, doors. And jali — the decorative patterned screens you will see on windows in Northern India, and North African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. The screens cooled the rooms, but they also screened women from being seen. I am playing with all of these things right now, and concepts about women, communication, reaching for and being withheld from our dreams and overcoming that. Ahhh but those are stories for another day! I am working them out through paper and paint.
I am loving the painters drop cloth that I used to cover the tables. It makes a nice neutral surface. When the cloth gets too messed up with paints, glues, coffee and red wine stains, etc., I can pop out the tabletop and re-cover it with fresh drop cloth.
The folding chairs are vintage Samsonite. I remember growing up with them in the 70s — we sat on these chairs for the “kid’s table” at Christmas! The price tags were still on them. One was $8 and the other was $9. I gave them a coat of paint, and re-covered the cushions with silk. I already had this silk. I had stenciled it to make Fortuny-style pillows, then after awhile the zipper broke. So I cut the pillow apart and re-used the silk for chair cushions.
Here you can see the sometimes crazy mix of patterns in this room. This is why I used neutral colors. I think you can get away with more patterns when the colors are similar. The patterns inspire my eye, but the neutral background doesn’t distract me while I’m making new creative things. It’s a good balance.
Though, there’s always an exception, isn’t there? Like this next spot, which I installed in this room in 2014. I can see it out of the corner of my eye while I’m working at the table, and it’s just enough color to get me daydreaming about new ideas …
I posted tutorials online previously, showing how to paint a front of a nook like this, and how to stencil on fabrics. Those tutorials are linked in the source list below.
This shows you the crazy pattern mix here! It is very much like Morocco and India and their exuberant mixes of patterns and color.
That little stool is a stepstool. Because the cushion is up pretty high, and I needed a little boost to get up onto the cushion easily.
Oops. Now that I’m typing right here, I see my toes got in that picture! All these patterns were painted very easily with stencils. So you can do this too! I’ve shared links in the source list below to the stencils, or to tutorial posts with project supply lists.
The curtain is a sari. I was surfing on Etsy one day and noticed this sari had a lot of the colors in the nook. I thought the hard edges of the closet door frame needed softening, and the sari helps do that. The sari is hanging from a rod and it can be pulled over to nearly close off the whole nook, or it can be draped and tied back with tassels.
Sharp-eyed folks will notice that this lantern is not in the photos above:
Our electrician didn’t have an available appointment until today, the day of the ORC reveals! And this post was already live by the time he got here. This nook is finally complete now that the walls are patterned too, with an iconic Moroccan souvenir. I found this lantern in Marrakech. And if you are lucky enough to go to Morocco, get a lantern like this — bring it back in your luggage. A slimmer oval or lozenge-shaped lantern like this fits in a suitcase, no problem.
I did many DIY projects in this room. I will share tutorials here in future weeks, like how to:
Mix lots of patterns together
Stencil a rug AND paint it with a broom!
Choose a lampshade for stenciling and stencil it
Make little stands for displaying collectibles
Paint big round trays with tribal medallions
Make a sari ceiling canopy over a bed
Rejuvenate old folding chairs with paint and new seat cushions
Dress up plain ol’ folding tables with paint and painters drop cloths, great for crafts and painting
I said in Week 1 that I was working on a tight budget and would be transparent about costs. My project ideas changed a lot, because I had to change rooms. I wound up not doing ideas like a faux brick wall.
Despite everything in this room, I bought very little. I already owned nearly everything. I even used paints that I already owned. The only things I bought specifically for this makeover were:
An ivory pillow on the daybed
Carved wooden storage and basket on the craft table
Hooks for sari curtain
Museum quality glass for frames
Mats for frames
Dowels for printing block stands
Quart of BJ Maritime White that I wound up not even needing
Seriously I think that is it. I spent about $200. The glass was the most expensive thing!
I still remember where I got most things, even though most were purchased years ago. Here is a source list …
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 have purchased from the company or used the product, and I can confidently share the company or product. For more info, see my Disclosures & Policies.
My sources are an eclectic bunch! Some things new, some things old, some things gifted, something stolen (does it count as stolen when you just didn’t give it back to your parents?). Things found everywhere, from easy one-click Amazon Prime to digging deep in the Marrakech souks and Indian sari shops.
Clockwise around the room starting with the Indian-Moroccan closet nook:
Indian-Moroccan Closet Nook
Step stool: forgot the source of the stool; painted with Benjamin Moore paints; stenciled with Zahara Moroccan Stencil from Royal Design Studio
Nook bench front: DIY’d by me (tutorial post with stencil and supply list)
Cushion: stenciled silk, DIY’d by me (tutorial post with stencil and supply list)
Teal pillows: Beaded stenciled bolster pillow DIY’d (tutorial post); Turkish Bursa silk pillow found in Bangalore, India; teal silk pillow: Good Earth in Chennai, India; pillow found in Marrakech; velvet pillow World Market; silk bolster DIY’d
Fabrics on ladder: Turkish Bursa silk purchased from a now-closed store in Bangalore, India; Japanese kimono and obi fabrics found on eBay; silk jacquard purchased from a now-closed store in Austin, TX
Glass Hundi lanterns: inventory from a catalog business we had in the ‘90s
And that is all! I will share DIY tutorials in future posts, so join my email list if you want notice of those posts. Meanwhile, enjoy all the other room reveals for the Fall 2017 One Room Challenge! You can visit 20 featured designers and the nearly 200 guest participants and get inspiring ideas for your own home! And a huge thank you to Linda of Calling It Home blog for hosting the ORC for us, and House Beautiful magazine as media sponsor. I thank you, and my husband thanks you too, because my DIY messes should now be contained in this studio instead of all over the house!
The ORC gave us a community of supportive people, and maybe just as important, a deadline to get things done. The result? Dreams come true for people. Homes become more beautiful. Rooms work better for people and their families, and pets too. Better places for better lives. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Now, I’m off to create some “old wall” painted papers in this creative studio that I’ve wanted for so long, and now it’s finally come to be … happy happy dance …