80′s Ottoman Makeover: Mauve Monster to Terrific Tribal

A few years ago, I was “gifted” with an ’80s throwback — a mauve fabric covered ottoman. It needed a major makeover. I found a pricey Missoni zig-zag ottoman that gave inspiration for a makeover. Because if you show me 10 things, I’ll pick out the most expensive, no fail!

Following the inspiration photo, the ottoman should have geometric pointy shapes. That made me think of the Tribal Stencil from Royal Design Studios’ Raven + Lily stencil collection. I have it in the small furniture size which is a perfect size to fit on a typical ottoman.

Ottoman Makeover

I did this project to enter in 3M’s ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape contest where you create something beautiful for $100 or less. So obviously the design needed to use ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape. I decided to paint several colors on the Tribal Stencil. Because, as you’ll see below, the ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape was critical to being able to do this.

I started painting without knowing entirely where this was going, except for the colors. But as the project evolved, I thought the design was feeling a little Navajo-ish, although the stencil pattern was inspired by Africa. Because of the Navajo feel, I thought of New Mexico and stenciled a pattern on the top of the ottoman that’s similar to the Zia sun symbol on the New Mexican state flag. Here’s the before & after:

Before and After Fabric Ottoman Makeover

Let’s see how this happened! The photos below show how the ottoman got from plain mauve to terrific tribal. It’s a lot of steps and it’s not a gorgeous process, so here’s a thumbnail gallery:

Ottoman Makeover Stenciling Steps

As you can see, I kept moving the tape to mask off areas of the stencil for the different colors of paint. Some areas of color are really close, so reliable tape was important for the success of this project!

Here’s the result after the first stencil was removed:

Tribal Stenciled Ottoman Makeover

And after the entire ottoman was painted:

Tribal Pattern Painted Ottoman

But after hours of painting, I was bothered by something. The paint color was just too saturated looking for my taste. It felt like elementary school project. But I was listening to 80s music and drinking glasses of Riesling while painting. (And no I was not doing impaired painting, because all the lines are straight and the paint is even, right?!) So I wasn’t bothered by a slight disappointment. I was in a good mood and knew there’s something you can do to easily fix this.

The fix? I simply painted a very light “dry brushed” layer of the original first layer of beige paint over everything. Yep, paint it all over all the stenciling! I made sure to rub as much paint from the brush as I could onto paper towel first, so I didn’t put too much beige paint all over the colors. This step created a distressed look and toned down the saturated colors:

Dry Brush to Give Distressed Look

After lightening the colors with some distressing, I was happy with the result!

Also as I mentioned above, as this project unfolded, it made me think “Navajo” more than “Africa.” Maybe that’s because of the colors. I’ve traveled around New Mexico many times, and through the Navajo Nation. When you spend time in New Mexico, the state’s icon of a Zia sun with points extending out in all four directions kind of becomes burned in your brain. Because you see it everywhere. So I decided to put a Zia sun-inspired design on the ottoman’s lid:

Painting Zia Sun Inspired Motif

I should note, I used Behr and Benjamin Moore latex paints for this project because the contest’s cost limit was $100 and the sample pots of these paints are very economical, plus they paint well with stencils. I have an easier time controlling the thicker latex paints when stenciling than acrylic paints, but maybe acrylic paints work better for other people.  But one issue with the latex paints is they made the ottoman fabric stiff. That’s okay with me because this ottoman didn’t even have upholstery fabric on it. It was a thin fabric. Now it has a heavier canvas feel and that’s fine. But you might not want to do this project on a chair unless you mix textile additive in the paint. I do have bottles of textile additive, but they’re in plastic bins in a closet in our basement that I couldn’t get to, because concrete was drying in our basement while I did this project! Of course I had that additive for a year and the one day I need it … (!!) We’re re-tiling the basement and the tile guys are leveling the floor. Once the basement is done, this ottoman will be in the new media center (ahem, man cave) there. The ottoman’s new exciting job in life will be to hold bottles of beer and chips and salsa. And maybe a magazine or two about airplanes.

For now, here’s the ottoman all styled up in our guest room:

Terrific Tribal Ottoman

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The DIY Dreamer |

CRAFT by World Market

Have you seen the CRAFT by World Market shopping concept yet? Rather than putting things you want in your shopping cart immediately, they show you products and they take pre-orders.

CRAFT by World Market

There’s a deadline for pre-orders, and if they get enough orders, they produce the item. If they don’t get enough orders, they don’t produce the item. As you see here, if you like this scarf, 68 other people need to like it enough to pre-order in order for you to have it.

So … do you like that idea? I’m not sure how I feel about it. A majority of previous items were not produced. Maybe this is a new idea that still needs to catch on. After all, buying through online auction at eBay was once a new strange thing. Someone was first with the online shopping concept of “membership” sites that offer very limited quantity (even one-of-a-kind) items and very limited time to purchase them, like GILT and One King’s Lane. There’s now a whole bunch of those shopping sites.

But with this CRAFT concept, I don’t quite get the feeling that if I don’t act now, I might miss out on something good. Because I need to depend on numerous other people to also act now. The items are really nice and from online photos they appear to be a higher level of quality, like this ceramic platter hand-crafted by Indian artisans:

Ceramic Platter CRAFT by World Market

But now I also feel a little blue and sad … some people put their heart and soul into creating this and what if it’s not popular enough and it’s not produced? I feel like I want to save its future, and save the artisans’ future! Help make it happen!!

So what are we supposed to do? What can we do? Buy a billboard pleading with other shoppers to please-please-please place a pre-order? Really, what can you do other than hope?

Check out this Hand of Fatima doorknocker:

Hand of Fatima Doorknocker at World Market

As of this moment, it needs only 11 more orders and it will be produced. Whew. I’m rootin’ for it! Couldn’t quite get excited about the World Cup, but I’m rootin’ for a World Market product! But I wouldn’t place bets on this door, no matter how much I love these carved Indian doors:

Carved Indian Door at World Market

Why? Well, it’s $499 and people are probably less likely to go for it. ?? Although I can tell you that getting a similar vintage or antique door shipped from India would cost far, far more so compared to that this is a bargain.

Hmmm … well, when I started writing this post, that Lalita scarf needed 68 orders to see the light of day. Now, it needs a few less, 65. So … here’s a close-up of the handiwork:

Lalita Scarf at World Market

Head on over if you like it! Oh, and, because nowadays you never know with blogging, this is not a sponsored post and there is no commission if you click links on this post! And maybe with this honest post I blew it for any future sponsorships with World Market, which would be ideal for this blog and its global decor focus. But, hey, we’re honest around here!

Constraint is Good for Creativity

So I decided to share a process from start to finish with you, as to how to make decisions for a project where you’re creating something. Like, when you’re creating something out of nothing. Or you have an object (in this case, a Mauve Monster) and you want to make it into something completely different, or to look completely different.

Creativity is really weird. Sometimes I’ll wake up at 3 a.m. with an idea. Other times, I thrash around mentally to settle on something. Aaaaaaand, it doesn’t happen. Until I’m brushing my teeth. Or taking a shower. Usually running water is involved for some strange reason. And of course in situations with running water, paper or a laptop are not nearby to jot down or draw an idea! Drives me nuts.

I think it’s harder when the whole world is wide open for an idea. I think it’s useful to have constraints that narrow the possibilities. You might think constraints would not help creativity. I think they do. Because constraints make it easier to actually decide what to do while leaving many possibilities still available to you. It might also depend on how you work and make decisions. Imagine being a kid in a candy store. Are you the kid who can make a beeline to your favorite salt water taffy flavor? Or are you the kid who would fly about the store like a bee, visiting all the different candies? And what if mom or dad told you that you can choose only one candy? How easy would that be for you? If it’s hard to choose, then it’s good to have some constraints, like choose from the jars of hard candies.

Let’s look at an example of how this works …

So there’s this cat-hair covered Mauve Monster in my house.

A Mauve Ottoman Makeover

I’d rather have it look a bit different. A lot different, really! It’s been sitting in the basement for a few years while I wondered what to do with it. I debated sewing a mix of different fabric patterns together, like a slipcover, to cover it up. But I never took any action.

Then this contest came along and I was invited to participate. It involves using ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape from 3M in the project. So, okay, there’s a constraint. And that helps narrow down the whole huge-humongous-ginormous world of endless possibilities. I could paint the ottoman! In some way that involves the painter’s tape! (Actually you could be really innovative and think of a project that involves painter’s tape without paint, but I’m not that creative. If you have an idea how to do that, please tell us in comments!)

The contest also limits spending to $100 on the project. Constraint #2, and it’s a good one. It’s always good to have a budget that forces you to be resourceful. That boosts creativity. Actually $100 is pretty generous for being creative.

So now I have three constraints for my idea:

  • Use mauve ottoman
  • Use ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape
  • $100 limit (the ottoman was given to me for free so I’m not counting it in the $100 budget – it was likely purchased in the 1980s and who knows what a fair cost is!)

These three constraints still leave a lot of possibilities. I could get stuck with no decisions and no action. So I put a few more constraints on myself:

  • Project will involve paint, some colors already owned

To keep cost down, I choose to use the small sample pots of Benjamin Moore and Behr latex paints. I already have some sample pots left over from previous projects so that helps decide the color palette.

  • I found an inspiration photo

When it comes to deciding design and style, sometimes an idea comes to you out of the blue. Sometimes it helps to choose an inspiration photo. I don’t advocate outright copying. But an inspiration that helps you narrow down designs, then you add your own twist, is fine. Here’s my inspiration photo:

Missoni Pouf at ABC Carpet and Home

Those of you who are fans of the zig-zag Missoni fabrics might recognize this as Missoni. I am often inspired by high end things that I cannot afford, and usually I purposefully seek out inspiration from the higher end levels of design. This ottoman is at ABC Carpet & Home and regular cost is $795. It’s on sale for a bargain $596. :) Well if I had an extra $596 laying around, I’d probably spend it on a flight to Istanbul. Certainly not on an ottoman!!

It will be fun to see how my ottoman will be transformed with this Missoni ottoman as inspiration. There are a few details that interest me and they add some more constraints that help me make decisions:

  • The color palette

I already have beiges and gray paints in sample pots. So I bought navy, lighter blue and deep salmon color sample pots of Behr paints. Because I see colors like those here.

  • The zig-zag

I know I want to paint with stencils from the collection I’ve built up over a few years from Royal Design Studio. It’s so hard to choose which ones!! I’m debating whether to use floral Indian designs:

Floral Indian Stencil Inspiration


Or whether to use geometric and tribal designs:

Geometric and Tribal Stencil Inspiration

Well, if it’s hard to make a decision, let’s look back at the Missoni ottoman which, as inspiration, is supposed to be a guide for decisions:

Missoni Pouf at ABC Carpet and Home

Revisiting the design inspiration makes it pretty clear which direction to go. I think what I’ll wind up doing – because I want a bit more pattern variation than this zig-zag delivers – is to use a mix of 85% geometric and tribal with a dash of 15% floral.

We’ll see how it shakes out! I’ll start by laying stencils on the floor in different combinations to see what I like, with this recipe of “mostly geometric tribal and lil’ bit floral.”

See how constraints helped to both inspire creativity and reach a decision?

A Mauve Monster Makeover

This week there’s a big challenge going on around here. Maybe the biggest challenge yet of my painting DIYs:

How do you make this mauve fabric ottoman look good enough to enter into a contest?

A Mauve Ottoman Makeover

Huh? How?!

That’s the contestant in all its pre-makeover glory, including cat hair all over it, just as it was found in a dark and feared corner of the basement. Please don’t pin this. I don’t even want to watermark it! :)

Now that it’s in the bright light of our sunroom, you can momentarily enjoy the mauve-ness of this 1980s throwback that came from my mom. What’s the right verb to describe what happened when she brought this to my house?

  • Gifted with
  • Inflicted upon
  • Dumped on

In all fairness, mom thought I would be the best and most appreciative recipient of this Mauve Monster because I “like to decorate things.” It was an act of endearment. Maybe I was “bestowed” with it. She thought I could make it better than it is. And now I must live up to this expectation.

This Missoni ottoman from ABC Carpet & Home is an inspiration, to give you an idea of where this is going.

Missoni Pouf at ABC Carpet and Home

I like the mix of colors. And the idea of pattern covering the ottoman. Don’t expect to see zig-zag, but there will be lots of pattern.

And the ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape from 3M is sitting on my Mauve Monster because it’s part of the contest project. They were so nice to send me some samples of the tape to play with for this makeover. So yes this will involve paint! And I have an idea where you must rely on the powers of the Painter’s Tape to tame this Mauve Monster.

As a bonus I might even tackle the inside:

Inside of Mauve Monster

If the ottoman is kept near chairs and a TV, the built-in tray is perfect for flipping over to hold drinks and snacks. But white plastic is just not my thing.

So as it is right now, this ottoman isn’t going to be kept near anything! Let’s hope I can recreate it into something beautiful that will be front and center in our basement TV room!

Yurt Style

Just wait until my husband finds out what I’m packing for camping … er, glamping … this weekend. Because we’re staying in a yurt! And you know what I’m thinking. Pictures of glamorous global glamping style! Forget the s’mores supplies. I’m packin’ the pillow with elephant ribbon trim. And some camel swag.

Meanwhile, here’s some yurt decor …

From Wilde & Watson, a bohemian decor yurt:

Yurt via Wilde and Watson

Via Domino magazine years ago:

Yurt via Domino Magazine

From Love My Dress (if you’re curious about that name and how it relates to decorating, it’s a wedding site that featured this yurt as part of a wedding, how cool!):

Yurt Style via Love My Dress

A “canvas hotel” via Dress Design Decor:

Canvas Hotel

More about yurts later. For now, I gotta pack some coordinated things, not the usual stuff I throw in a bag when camping. We’re actually lucky to have a place to go. We got the idea last minute to hop-skip-jump in a little four-seater airplane up to Door County, Wisconsin. But it’s a holiday weekend. There was no vacancy in any hotels and although we could find a campground, we can’t load too many pounds of camping gear in a tiny airplane. You have to weigh everything. Then I found these yurts available – perfect compromise!

Our yurt will be very simple (like, there’s no running water) and there’s only so much “stuff” I can take. If I tried to load a rug on the plane I think my husband would certify me with decorating insanity. So we’ll see what we can do!

Painted “Inlaid” Moroccan Table

This has to happen!

Paint a Moroccan Inlaid Mother of Pearl Table

This table from @styleMBA’s Instagram, found at a TJ Maxx/HomeGoods:

HomeGoods TJMaxx Moroccan Tables from styleMBA's Instagram

Plus the Starry Moroccan Night stencil from Royal Design Studio:

Starry Moroccan Night Stencil

Paint a mother-of-pearl look all over the table first with pearlescent paints. Don’t do an even application of one color - paint with different shades of natural pearlescent/shimmery paints. Once the stencil is painted, this pearlescent blend of colors is what you’ll see peeking through the gray lines above.

Then, paint the stencil with different browns and black in the geometric shapes. Sort of like you see on this antique Moroccan inlaid table at liveauctioneers.com:

Antique Moroccan Inlaid Table via LiveAuctioneers.com

You might at first think this is wasteful of all the pearlescent paint you won’t see, but the pearl effect is underneath the top layer of paint so it will look “inlaid.”

I’ve been checking HomeGoods and TJ Maxx in my area and no Moroccan table like these in sight in NW Chicago burbs so far. As you can see, this is a painting project that must be done! Of course you can buy a table. But isn’t it more fun to make it yours, yourself.

If you like the looks of these inlaid style tables, visit my Pinterest board full of tables from Morocco, India, Syria, Egypt:

Follow India pied-à-terre’s board Inlaid Table – Moroccan, Syrian, Egyptian, Indian, Turkish on Pinterest.


DIY Anthro-Style Stenciled Tote Bag

Lately I’ve been drawn  to casual tote bags with a mix of patterns and colors on them. Like these from Anthropologie:

Anthropologie Border Patterned Tote Bags -- Make a DIY Bag Like These

If you want to see more like these, I’ve pinned a bunch more patterned tote bags here from Anthro, Free People, Calypso St. Barth, Accessorize, etc.

What I see when I look at these bags is mix ‘n matched combos of border patterns. Like border patterns from stencils. Thus, you could paint a bag with stencils. Right? And so I did.

You can find blank cotton tote bags in different sizes at craft stores like JoAnn and Hobby Lobby. From the selection in my local stores, I found Hobby Lobby carries slightly thicker tote bags than JoAnn. Dharma Trading also sells them online. They’re usually available in white, beige and black.

Tote Bag Blanks

You will need to iron the tote bag before painting on it. In the photo above, the bag in the front is a tote bag directly from the package; I ironed the one in the back.

I chose a mix of stencils from my collection from Royal Design Studio. I think a good “formula” for some visual variety is to 1.) mix rounded shapes with straight-edged shapes, and 2.) mix larger shapes with smaller shapes. Here you can see the finished stenciled tote bag and how I mixed patterns:

DIY Anthro-Style Patterned Tote Bag with Stencils

To create this bag, I “built” the design from the bottom-up, starting with a dark gray color pattern on the bottom. I used Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan in Graphite for this color:

DIY Anthro-Style Patterned Tote Bag

When you want to create a line to “cut off” a larger pattern, as I needed to do with this one, just put painter’s tape on the stencil:

Making a DIY Anthropologie-Style Tote Bag

As you can see above, I used a different kind of paint – Benjamin Moore latex – for the light gray pattern. If you like a Benjamin Moore color, the sample pots of their paints are great for getting the small quantities you’d use for crafts.

Next I painted a red pattern with Royal Design Studio Stencil Creme in Renaissance Red. These paints have a little shimmer to them which really brings the color to life.

Painting Stencil Patterns on Tote Bag

Then I painted another row of light gray paint in a different small border pattern.

The final row at the top of the bag is solid Graphite.

You may notice the original tote bag “blanks” had cotton canvas handles. But I wanted to dress the tote bag up, so I cut those handles off and replaced them with long cross-body handles in black faux leather.

DIY Stenciled Tote Bag Anthropologie-Style

Here I am wearing it around the kitchen after finishing it! The tassel bundle is another DIY. I shared the how-to for that here.

Finished DIY Stenciled and Tasseled Tote Bag

I was so thrilled with this stenciled tote bag, I wore it around the house all night. Then I just had to wear it to work the next day, to carry all my fruits and veggies in it (so it’s a great farmers market bag). I got stopped that day by colleagues who wanted to order this for themselves and as gifts for family! So … you can paint this yourself, or you can order it made for you — I’ve set up an Etsy shop with this tote bag in it. More patterned bag  styles will be coming!