Trending: Carpet Bags

Call ‘em carpet bags, kilim bags, call them whatever you like — they are bags made of carpet remnants from rugs around the world. They often have a bohemian look and are a great style for those of us with wanderlust. They seem to be a trend.

How do I detect a trend? Well, it’s simple. I go by the “rule of 3′s.” If something new shows up 3 times from 3 different sources within 30 minutes, then it might be a trend. Because with all the info we’re exposed to all the time, what’s the chance of that happening if the “thing” is not a trend? This happened yesterday with these bags, on my various social media feeds. So, callin’ it.

#1. First, this boho carpet travel bag by Barbara Bui from spring 2013 collection showed up on Facebook:

Barbara Bui Carpet Bag Spring 2013

#2. Right after checking Facebook, I skipped over to email where there was a notice from Novica about this Zapotec Handbag, made by Alfredo Ruiz. It has a replication of the Ojo de Dios glyph (eye of God) motif. Novica has a tastemaker blog post all about this bohemian carpet bag:

Zapotec Carpet Bag from Novica

#3. Then, a little further down my email list was a post from Justina Blakeney’s blog about kilim bags such as these from Burberry (this one is actually designed for men!):

Burberry Rug Bag

If you’d like one of your own, Etsy is a great place to find vintage bags or new bags made from older carpet textiles.

Here’s a 1970s vintage overnight bag made from Turkish rugs. From Daisy Chain Vintage on Etsy, it’s been sold, but it’s a good look to search for with it’s timeless neutral colors and details:

Kilim Carpet Bag via Daisy Chain Vintage on etsy

From Etsy shop Bohemiennes, this is a bold graphic vintage carpet bag that would look great hanging casually off a mid century modern chair:

Carpet Bag via Etsy Shop Bohemiennes

This next style adds just a bit of color and striped pattern to an otherwise neutral bag. It’s from Istanbul, which is the source of many great rugs, at Etsy shop The Orient Bazaar:

Kilim Bag via The Orient Bazaar

Another vintage duffle weekender from Etsy shop Goodbye Heart Woman. I like the off-center placement of this kilim rug pattern:

Vintage Kilim Duffle Bag via Etsy Shop Goodbye Heart Woman

Of course this trend isn’t new. These have been a trend before. That’s why there’s so many vintage bags on the market! I have a vague memory of these from the 1970s but I was a young child then and paid more attention to Barbie dolls than bags at that time. I also remember taking macrame classes and made a pot-hanger — another trend that has returned now.

Imagining Magenta

For years there was an obsession with paprika color here. Paprika crept beyond just being sprinkled on hummus, and onto our dining room walls and our guest room walls. But I’m moving’ on. You know how you get a tingle when there’s a new exciting obsession starting? Magenta is doing that for me right now. Of course there might be other things in life more exciting than a color, but this blog is safe for work reading …

So let’s talk about color! Magenta lives between pink and purple. It captures imaginations around the world, as you can see on this Pinterest board:

Follow India pied-à-terre’s board Color – Magenta on Pinterest.

Magenta can be bright, or it can be darker, mysterious, murky. Our house colors have leaned closer to murky than bright. I’m okay with some mysterious color – that’s more interesting to me than clear colors. But too much murky gets moody. So lately I’m craving some lightness and brightness.

We recently tiled the basement floor, and the room is really beige. Beige walls. Beige floors. It will stay that way because we might decide to pitch a “for sale” sign on the lawn. But all the beigeness is too much like living inside a Thomas English Muffin. So not fun. There’s a reason why you always put things on Thomas English Muffins! Who eats them plain?

So I’ve been pinning ideas for basement rug carpets. And when you pin, if you’re disciplined and true to what’s drawing your eye, you might see a trend pop up on your board:

Rugs with Touches of Magenta

So, hmmmm. Magenta is there in nearly every photo. Pink is too though I’m not looking for pink — the basement is becoming the man cave media room and there’s an excited husband in this house who’s picking out his hi-fi media stuff. For me, it’s the combo of deeper magenta with neutral colors and a touch of black that’s interesting. (Like, what’s interesting about plain black speakers??) I can see a rug with these colors will tie together the furniture that will wind up in the basement. Because you know basements tend to become the dumping grounds for furniture you don’t want to use elsewhere in the house. Then you have to make it work.

In my imagination, magenta will make it work! And add the color I’m craving for this beige English Muffin room. It’s like spreading raspberry jam all over the muffin.

Etsy Shops with Global Flair

I’m on Etsy a bit more now that I put the smallest ever inventory in a shop – just two items but more tote bags and mini cross-body bags (super cute) are coming! Just first, need to find the right leather straps at the right quality level for the right price.

Meanwhile here’s some Etsy shops to get a dose of global style …

Chanee Vijay Textiles sells hand-printed block print items including bold graphic pillows, many in strong metallic colors:

Chanee Vijay Textiles on Etsy

See her design process here – where a fun video shows how she draws designs, she cuts wooden blocks, she mixes inks, she prints on fabric, she sews … she does everything! And it’s all environmentally-friendly too.

I’m going to Morocco this fall and traded in 80K United miles (yeah sometimes I fly a lot) for a free flight. So then you get weird itineraries. One option was routed through Dakar, Senegal. Which got me curious, what’s in Senegal? Well, baskets like these from Etsy shop African Baskets are from Senegal:

African Baskets Etsy Shop Baskets from Senegal

Hilarys Bazaar is like wandering the lanes of a Middle Eastern souk where people have tread for thousands of years, maybe even trading similar things all this time. And then the souk comes to you, through your computer:

Hilarys Bazaar Etsy Shop

I drool over the Thai and Hmong hill tribe textiles at DellShop. I brought back bags of textiles when we traveled to Thailand years ago. There’s something about the complexity of the weaves and designs. You can purchase lengths of textiles and sew pillows with them, or hang them as-is.

DellShop Thai and Hmong Textiles on Etsy

Luxethnik has a collection of high-quality global wares, and I think I “favorite” everything in this shop! What a great eye and attention to detail. And she’s in Santa Fe which is one of my very favorite towns on the planet – there’s such rich global inspiration there.

Luxethnik Etsy Shop

Isn’t everything so lusciously photographed? If only I could move into an online shop …

Totally Impractical Frivolous Glamping in a Yurt

Glamping decor essentials:

Glamping Decor

Usually when we go camping (which is rare but it happens sometimes) we’re super practical. We’re such responsible adults. We take the bare essential things to sustain life and stay socially acceptable – things for food, hydration, hygiene and caffeination.

But over Fourth of July weekend, the only food I took was a bag of smoked bar-b-q potato chips from Whole Foods. Other than that, no food. But I made absolutely sure I packed:

  • A carved wooden hand from Bali
  • A short length of dyed silk jacquard with a Chinese pattern on it
  • A suede and silk chenille pillow with elephant trim


Because, this was glamping. This was glamping in a yurt. And I recently posted some photos of tricked-out yurts and I wanted our yurt to be decorated like that too. So I studied the yurt photos from our campground’s website, and decided to pack some fancy frivolous things — of which my husband was completely unaware until they were unpacked and fluffed up around the yurt, then he could only laugh.

So here … scenes from our yurt for a short weekend …

Glamping Decor - Hiding Wooden Crates

Glamping in a Yurt

Patterns Gone Glamping

Vintage Indian Slippers Gone Glamping

Silk Pillows Gone Glamping

Luxurious Glamping Pillows

Roof of the Yurt

I even packed a yak bell. Just in case our yurt came with a yak. You want to be prepared. But yet we had no toilet paper. So much for being prepared.

Asian Flair in a Yurt

Thankfully we were not in Mongolia or Khazakhstan, the kinds of places where people live in yurts for real. We didn’t have any hygiene catastrophes and no one collapsed from starvation or dehydration. We were in Door County, Wisconsin with its cute little harbor towns and all the organic non-GMO food, recycled toilet paper and DEET-free mosquito sprays you could ever want.

We ate like privileged vegetarian localvores. We drank like fish that drink wine. And yes, I decorated a yurt like a silly person. Glamping at its finest!

There is one sorta practical thing to learn here. I can show you how to hide a basic bunk bed with textiles. This actually is practical for traveling because you can choose lighter-weight textiles that pack in small light bundles. Here’s a before and after:

Glamping Bunk Bed Before After

The textile at the top is draped over part of the bunk bed purely as a decorative feature. Its job is to make this feel more like an exotic Asian nook, than a pine bunk bed in northern Wisconsin. It’s a silk dupatta from India, from Jaypore. It weighs only ounces and packs super small.

Yurt Bunk Bed

Textiles in a Glamping Yurt

The rest of the stuff there, I gotta admit, was not so compact. But glamping isn’t practical. So that’s my excuse. The textiles here reflect our formerly more nomadic traveling life (appropriate for a yurt, I thought) and they gave me wanderlust:

  • Big pillows covered with silk Jim Thompson fabric we found in Bangkok
  • A silk elephant pillow, also from Jim Thompson in Bangkok
  • A pillow I sewed with elephant trim ribbon, brown suede and silk chenille
  • Alpaca blanket from Peru
  • A small piece of dyed silk jacquard, found at a fabric store in Austin, Texas
  • A soft slightly fuzzy gray and peach color fabric that goes so well with the dyed silk jacquard, I must make something with these two textiles together!
  • Sheepskin rug. Probably from IKEA.

Nothing matches exactly, nor should it if you are picking up bits and pieces of things along your travels. And that’s the idea here. Yurts should have nomadic style.

The other silliness I set up here:

  • Vintage Indian slippers from an Etsy shop
  • An old yak bell we got in Gangtok, Sikkim
  • A patterned inlaid frame found at HomeGoods
  • A burnished brass tribal style bracelet also from HomeGoods
  • A wooden carved hand from Bali found at Novica

That carved hand did have a practical job – we dangled keys from its fingers!

I painted a little tote bag in a style which I’ll add to my new Etsy shop as soon as a shipment arrives with more bags in this size. I call the color combo “Nilgiri Nutmeg.”

Painted Stencils & Camel Swag on a Tote Bag

From its handles dangle “camel swag” from Woman Shops World on Etsy – vintage decorations from Rajasthani camels. So if our yurt had a yak, we have a bell. If our yurt had a camel, we got the swag!

This little bag wasn’t frivolous – it was so handy. Because we didn’t pack toilet paper, I had to buy some. It also toted DEET-free mosquito spray, bottles of wine, packages of goat cheese and hummus, crispy crackers and a Door County road map. If you need a bag to carry things home from a market or perhaps to your own temporary weekend yurt, follow my Etsy shop where I’ll be adding more colorful patterned bags through the summer, just perfect for traveling down your own Silk Road.

Glamping Silk Road Style

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


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?