Wood Beams

For our Chennai flat, we’re designing a kitchen with Tuscan elements. One element I really like about Tuscan kitchens are wood beams on the ceilings:

I am thrilled that the people finishing our place “get it” when we share ideas with them. They’re going to put wood beams on our kitchen ceiling, and make the beams look old, like this place has been there for hundreds of years. Here’s a picture that my sister-in-law took in Paris a few years ago. Of wood beams! Something about the beams drew her eye. So she shared this with the designer and he’s going to make our beams look old like this:

To find inspiration from Tuscan kitchens, explore photos of the villas for rent at to-tuscany.com. We rented a small house for a week in Tuscany via this website, and it was a wonderful experience. We want to try to capture some of the feeling from that week.

Restful Bedrooms

The thing I like about bold color is that it energizes me. I feel a tingle when looking at a shot of the crispest brightest reds, orange, lime and yellow. I feel like I want to jump, throw arms in the air, get things done!

But I imagine the bedrooms of our India pied a terre to be extremely restful. Peaceful. They should be respites, places to retreat from noise and heat. They should make you feel cool. Like this room from Vogue Living:

I found the exact vision I seek at Rang-Decor — hand block printed sheets and blankets in cool whites with soothing pale print colors. Lots of space between the print pattern so it feels restful not hyperkinetic busy.

Another bedding source shared at Rang-Decor is Les Indiennes:

I like the mix of big and small prints that offer something interesting to look at, while maintaining a peaceful space.

I adore paisley. So paisley is a must. I would block print the sheets myself or design fabric on Spoonflower to get exactly what I want.

And add this mirror from Layla Grayce:

And because everywhere we’ve ever traveled had roosters that woke us up in the morning (whether we wanted to wake up or not), a rooster is needed here too. But, it’s a quiet rooster, from Wisteria:

We’re going for restful, but not so ethereal or gossamer that the whole room feels like wind would just lift it away. There will be darker wood furniture to ground it all. I haven’t even thought about furniture yet though …

Front Doors

First things first. We looked at front doors today for the Chennai flat. The what? The flat? This is already feeling contrived to keep writing pied a terre! But “flat” just … falls flat. That word doesn’t live up to my expectations for this place. So the pied a terre fantasy returns.

Our glorious vision of a place must have a very special door. It’s the first indication of what’s to follow. A few years ago when we visited Tuscany and Umbria, I photographed a series of doors, so entranced by imagination of what lay beyond them. They were all very tall, immense. Some felt rustic, others medieval. Some beautiful and others severe. Some were welcoming and surrounded with flowers. A few were foreboding, bidding you to back away. Clearly they all had personalities.

Whatever door we ultimately choose, our India pied a terre’s door must not be one that’s from the India equivalent of Home Depot.

Here are doors I find beautiful, from around the internet. I try best to pay credit where credit is due to the people or businesses that shared these online for our viewing pleasure.

Jodhpur doors found on nikdaum.com:

From doorsdarling.com. Also known as “Doors, Darling! a blog about doors, knobs, locks and hinges.” Now it takes discipline to focus on that, but I’m glad someone does because they photographed this glorious door in Bikaner in Rajasthan:

From eBay seller MogulGallery in Florida. Yes you can find these doors on eBay and make them part of your pied a terre, anywhere:

Found on sangeetaarts.net, new metal-covered embossed doors:

Bronze Jaipur door photo shared by Travelpod.com travel blogger Thomasgillam:

Someone owns this door from Tamil Nadu now. It’s satinwood and teak, over 100 years old, and was sold on GoAntiques.com. This makes me envision deep red wall in the stairwell meeting a deep honey-color carved door:

Blue n’ bells from pbase.com world traveler Karthik Raja Photography:

This is actually artwork depicting a door on dakshinachitra.net, the Madras Craft Foundation. This place is just south of Chennai. I must visit next time I am there. This is from a DakshinaChitra August 2009 painting exhibition:

I don’t know the original source of this one, but there are Lakshmi coins embedded in this door! Lakshmi is my favorite goddess. This door is visually stunning:

As you’ve seen, doors can be created from an enormous variety of materials, styles and colors to express what you want to those who visit.

Here is the antique door my husband found during his trip to choose materials for the place. His sister Shanthi was helping with the shopping and poses with it:

Here is close-up of the detail at the top:

Here is the back side, the door view we’ll see from inside the house:

It’s 5’6″ tall, low like older doors are, so anyone taller than that will need to duck while walking in. It gives no indication that on the inside, 10-foot ceilings await. It will go through about a month of detailed restoration before it’s installed. The shop will send pictures of the restoration progress, and we’ll share here.

Framed Scarves

Scarves wrap up so much in such light packages. Sumptuous silk, rich color, intricate design, meaningful symbolism. They can pack a powerful visual punch. So why keep scarves in the dark of a closet, or tied on you, where you can only see bits of what they have to offer? Why not frame them and hang them and enjoy them every day?

I originally purchased this Talbots scarf with the intent of hanging it in our U.S. living room. It has the right colors and it depicts things I love: travel, navigation, maps.

I wore this scarf for a few years, then finally mounted it on canvas as shown here.

Does anyone else have this crazy notion to frame scarves? Well, yes! Many do. Here are some ideas:

photo from Domino

photo from Martha Stewart

Here’s a scarf framed under glass on a table:

photo from HGTV

From the Right Bank shows pictures of beautiful framed Hermes scarves. Hermes scarves aren’t just pretty — for many decades they have captured imagery and paid tribute to places and cultures worldwide.

Now don’t you think an Indian pied a terre should have a classic French Hermes scarf with India scenes?

My favorite Hermes scarf and story is from a few years ago. It’s a Tibetan scene:

It pays homage to Alexandra David-Neel who lived from 1868-1969. She was a French-Belgian explorer. In this scene, she and her traveling partner are heading towards Lhasa, the forbidden capital of Tibet. She became famous around the globe when she reached Lhasa in 1924. For now I dream of the adventure of this scarf, as I do not own any Hermes scarves. This is free inspiration here!

These colors feel too strong for our Chicago home. But they are perfect colors for an India pied a terre. They look tiny here, but these scarves fill a lot of wall space. They’re about one square yard or one square meter.

While you can get pre-owned Hermes scarves on eBay, I’m a fan of “getting the look for less.” Just look for inexpensive square scarves with:

  • Travel or cultural themes
  • Lots of detail
  • Bold shapes you can see from a distance
  • Bold color

Frame them, and hang them!