Color: A Teal Treat

Of all the jewel-tone colors, my fav is teal blue – a very deep blue-green color. It’s richer than turquoise. Turquoise is lighter and bluer, like the blue of the summer sky is in it. Turquoise is happy. Teal is moodier. Teal is murkier and more mysterious. I’m not sure what that says about me that I prefer teal over turquoise?!

Right now a closet in our guest room is being transformed from a dingy dirty white storage space, into a really luxurious Indian-Moroccan patterned nook. I decided to not be shy with the color. It’s teal. A real deep dark teal. Like these images …

This is from a waterfall wall made of petals by David Harber:

Waterfall Petal Wall by David Harber

Here teal blue covers the walls of a whole room, thanks to Anthropologie:

Teal Color Room by Anthropologie

You can get a touch of teal on your table, in some “Ibiza” bowls and plates from Z Gallerie:

Ibiza Bowls and Dinner Plates from Z Gallerie

A dose of teal blue from Harper’s Bazaar Spain edition:

Harper's Bazaar Spain

It shows up in a decorative mail box in Travancore, South India. If our mailboxes were as pretty as this, maybe we’d want to send real handwritten letters just to visit the mailbox:

South India Mailbox

Textiles from Nagaland in India and Burma are usually black, red, yellow and white. But here is an embroidered Nagaland textile in teal blue, via Saffronart:

Embroidered Nagaland Textile via Saffronart

I have a tip for you if you want to buy teal blue paint. Be sure to check paint chips in natural light! The yellow tinge of indoor lighting can add some green to a blue paint chip. So your paint chip may look teal in the store or under lamp lights in your house. But the actual paint color may not have enough green to really be teal. I had some paint chips that I would have sworn up and down were really truly teal. But when the lamps were off and the sunlight was streaming through the window, they were not green-blue. They were just blue. One chip was truly teal in the natural light. So check your paint chips in natural light before buying paint.

For more of this color, visit my Pinterest Board full of teal blue:

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

How to Style the Well-Traveled Home

Do you ever feel a bit of wanderlust and wish for a vacation? Who doesn’t want a vacation! Why not build a little bit of vacation travel right into your home so you can live with it every day? That’s what I do. Our living room has a Burmese rice god and goddess standing in it. Here’s one of them:

Rice God

Now we haven’t yet gone to Burma (or Myanmar as it’s now called). But we did get pretty close by traveling to northwestern Thailand and Laos. This rice god reminds me all the time of our travels to that area of the world. We found it in a dusty old warehouse near Chiang Mai, Thailand.

And one of the side tables in our living room is a rain drum found in Bangkok (and there you can see the rice god in all its full glory near it):

Rain Drum

The fruits on top of the rain drum are alabaster. They’re souvenirs from a vacation to Tuscany. We visited the village of Volterra and found the most realistic-looking stone fruits there.

Those are just small glimpses of travel mementos from our home. If you want ideas to weave global influence into your home, check out the  Passport to Style Guide from One Kings Lane. They know global style! In fact, all my purchases from One Kings Lane are from the other side of the planet – a kantha quilt, a hot pink silk pillow from India – and there was the time I got so excited that they had a sale of things from South India. Probably way too excited for any normal person.

In Passport to Style, they take you to nearly every continent with suggestions to get the well-traveled style from Mexico to The Netherlands to the diversity of countries in Africa. I learned a few things, such as Japanese furniture-makers value wood grains and unfinished wood, and Scandinavian seating can look futuristic.

Tribal Lamp Pattern Inspiration: Raven + Lily

A few weeks ago I shared this lamp that I painted with Royal Design Studio tribal stencil patterns:

African Tribal Stenciled Lamp with Baobob Tree Proportions

To find out how to stencil a lamp shade like this, head on over to Paint + Pattern, an online magazine where, as a regular contributor there, I shared all the painting details!

But there’s much more to like about this stencil than the design alone. Royal Design Studio created this stencil and many others inspired by the jewelry, accessories and clothing designs of Raven + Lily. Part of the proceeds from these stencils help Raven + Lily’s efforts. Raven + Lily employs marginalized women in Africa, India and Asia, who have too few other opportunities to earn a livelihood. For example, women in Ethiopia who are HIV+ have been trained with the skills to make stylish jewelry like this:

Raven and Lily Jewelry

And also, much of their jewelry is made from metals from melted down bullet casings. As a public health professional I’ve worked on violence prevention and am too aware of the toll of violence and disease. So the idea of taking something that was intended for violence and transforming it into something of beauty is really appealing. And so is supporting projects like that.

Previous posts here talked about an obsession with tassel necklaces, so I was thrilled to see a tassel necklace at Raven + Lily and of course had to have it. It’s made by women in India of black rosewood and gold beads. Here it is with my lamp inspired by their designs:

Raven and Lily Tassel Necklace


If you like the stencil design on my lampshade, you can of course get the stencil and paint it yourself on whatever you like. It also appears on some Raven + Lily products, like this makeup bag:

Raven and Lily Organic Cotton Makeup Bag

These stencils and products are a fun and stylish way to support a great cause! Also, I should note, this is not a sponsored post – I bought the necklace myself because I want to support what Raven + Lily is doing.

If You Want a Closet Sitting Nook, You Gotta Give Up a Closet

Follow along over the next few weeks as I turn a plain ol’ white closet into a colorful, patternful sitting nook! Here’s an inspiration photo:

Closet Nook Inspiration

This is the space that’s going to turn into something like the above photo:

Closet Makeover Before

Blah, yeah?!? There’s a bit of work to do! I’ll be sharing a few DIYs during this project:

  • How to make a pierced metal ceiling lantern like the pricey ones you see on Pinterest, but DIY inexpensive and easy!
  • How to build a seating bench with hidden storage under it, so you have *some* storage in the closet.
  • How to make a foam cushion but not any ol’ cushion – this one is silk and stenciled with patterns!
  • Tips for making professional-looking pillows.
  • How to paint new walls to look old.
  • How to turn plain wood into an exotic wonderment of stencils and patterns.

So watch for the series of upcoming posts both here and at Paint + Pattern!

To kick off this closet makeover project, I’ll answer an obvious question:

How can we give up the storage space of a whole closet? How?!?

Well … discipline and choices. That’s the answer. It’s not an easy answer. It’s not a super sexy answer. I struggle with accumulating stuff. But the stuff that was in this closet hadn’t been touched for many years. So do we really need that stuff? And, if this closet was holding things we don’t need, we really don’t need the closet either. Right?! That’s one way to look at it. Do you have any closets full of things you haven’t used in a long time?

It comes down to being honest with ourselves about what we really do and don’t need. And ridding our lives of some stuff. That’s what I’m doing now – moving stuff out the door in one way or another: giving it away, throwing it away, donating it to Goodwill, selling it on eBay.

What you see hanging in the closet above is not what was there – that closet was crammed with crap from floor to ceiling, from wall to wall. The stuff is now pared down to that final batch of old clothes to be shipped out.

And, the stuff is not moving to another place in our house. That’s not a solution for us. Our older house has a pathetic lack of storage space by today’s standards. As one example, two hall closets – a closet by the front door and an upstairs linen closet – were lost to retrofitted central air conditioning ductwork. Imagine the shock when we toured this house and kept opening closet doors to find a faceful of ducts. Why did we still buy this place? Clearly, not for storage space.

So, on top of the existing lack of closets, I’m giving up a closet! It is possible to carve out unique spaces in our homes, no matter the size house. This project is proof that can happen. Decide how you really want to use the spaces available to you, and adjust how much stuff you have accordingly. Yes it does involve making choices, and maybe making cuts deeper than you think you can do. I just know the sitting nook I’m creating will make me much happier than a closet full of stuff.

Mixing It Up in the Craft Store Aisles: Bejeweled Pillows

So last week I revealed that the beautiful Once Upon a Tea Time blog was kind to feature me in its monthly magazine, curated. And, there is a glimpse shared there of my (until now!) hidden passion for sewing pillows. Pillows are easy sewing projects where you can quickly add a lot of color and pattern to a room. I’ve collected small remnants of pricey new fabrics, and vintage sari and kimono cloth over the years. Using these fabrics in pillows is a great way to show them off.

Here is a bejeweled bolster pillow shared in the magazine:

Bejeweled Bolster Pillow

It’s a great example of how you can mix up craft supplies. Craft stores have supplies for so many hobbies all in one place, it would be a shame to make pillows with fabric only from the fabric section. Or to make jewelry with materials only from the jewelry-making section. Wouldn’t the two hobbies be even more fun if you mixed them up?

Bejeweled Bolster with Jewelry-Making Supplies

This large bolster pillow was sewn with a jacquard teal silk fabric and a teal ribbed knit. Large blingy brooches sold in the jewelry-making aisle are perfect for covering up the gathered fabric at the end of a bolster pillow, as you see above. And to take the bling a step further, I hung silver jhumka to dangle and jingle on the ends. (Jhumka are traditional style Indian earrings that sort of look like bells with small jingly pieces dangling from them.) Jewelry pieces like those shown above can easily be found at Michaels, Joann or Hobby Lobby.

Here’s another example of how to add some bling, this time with luxurious silk:

Embroidered Pillow with Tassels

That’s a piece of remnant silk found at Britex in San Francisco years ago. The silk is so thick and rich feeling, I thought just simple tassels didn’t do it justice. So the tassels are dangling from golden chains with cabochon stones to add a little more luxury.

Embroidered Silk Pillow

You are going to see the teal bolster pillow again … it will show up in a bigger project to be revealed in March!

A Nomad’s Jewelry

If you travel and you’re female, you may pick up some jewels along the roads you travel. Maybe they’re talismans and amulets with purposes to protect. Maybe they’re pendants made from colorful semi-precious stones with meanings, like turquoise and carnelian. Maybe they’re one-of-a-kind pieces made by artists for the sheer pleasure of creating, no purpose  beyond that needed. Whatever you pick up, nomads tend to collect many different things. I’d imagine the jewelry of a nomad might look like these …

Can you believe this charm bracelet was owned by Jackie O? It’s true! I’ll share more about this bracelet in a future post.

Jackie O Charm Bracelet

This next one is like a shield of charms. From Silk Road Jewelry on etsy, this is a “vintage travel memories” necklace that’s been sold, but you can find similar pieces at that etsy shop:

Travel Memory Necklace from Silk Road Jewelry Etsy Shop

Here’s another one from Silk Road Jewelry made with African and Nepalese treasures. I like the choice to play up a single color in these pieces:

From Silk Road Jewelry Shop on Etsy

I posted this years ago and it fits in this post theme again – a collection of Indian amulet necklaces:

Indian Amulet Necklace

I personally lean toward SE Asian, Indian and African pendants and charms, but it doesn’t have to be that way. This eclectic combination was shared by Earth Angels Studios in a post about an art event in Sanford, FL:

Eclectic Charms via Earth Angels Studio Blog

This necklace was made with decadent textiles and silk. Yum! It was sold by the quisnam shop on etsy, where you can find similar textile-and-charm jewelry:

Textile Silk and Charm Necklace from quisnam shop on etsy

Here’s a cascade of healing amulets in a more natural palette, from Etsy shop maggiezees. This exact one has been sold but this shop has many very similar pieces:

Amulet Necklace from Etsy Shop maggiezees

Here’s a charm bracelet also from maggiezees on Etsy:

Charm Bracelet from maggiezees shop on etsy

And another from Maggie Zee flickr, shaman amulet bracelet. I’m loving the natural colors with mixed metals:

Shaman Bracelet by Maggie Zee

From Dorje Designs, this is a masterful blend of pieces from around the world – she calls her work transglobal jewelry. Befitting for a nomad:

Talisman Necklace from Dorje Designs

This wake up call is from Jane Dean shop on deviantart:

Charm Bracelet via Jane Dean Deviantart Shop

This next one is not for sale. It’s in the Met’s collection. It’s from Japan, 20th century. Even though it’s very under-stated compared to examples above, it still feels nomadic.

Japanese 20th Century Necklace in The Met's Collection

I like the blend of cultures in these pieces of jewelry, and their big personalities.


This Week: Featured in Online Magazines!

It’s been quiet here for a bit, but that doesn’t mean nothing has been happening. In fact things have been happening elsewhere!

I’ve been writing and sharing DIYs over at Paint+Pattern, an online magazine about paint and pattern but also so much more – it’s full of inspiration about the current trends! See what I shared there about top interior designers and the African-inspired design trend. We may not all have a baby cheetah curled up snoozing on a sofa, but we can weave these lively patterns and colors into our homes – find out how:

African Trend Inspiration at Paint+Pattern Online Magazine


And, I’m thrilled to be featured in Once Upon a Tea Time’s online magazine, curated, this month! Its pages are an extravaganza of color and patterns. Priya asked me to share some experiences and advice from being a creative entrepreneur. Those of us with creative souls like to make things, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to sell them? There’s so many more options now than back in the 90s (like that was really that long ago!) when my husband and I had a print and online business. I share some tips at curated:

curated Online Magazine

I’m honored to be among the company of so many other creative, inspiring women in this month’s issue, check it out!

And you may notice that profile photo is in both curated and Print+Pattern. What you probably don’t know – it’s almost 8 years old! I’m finally at the point in middle age life where 8 years looks a lot younger. Maybe that’s why I like this photo so much. :)  My decade-old driver license is also due for renewal – a friend said the other day “how old is that license?!” We had to show our licenses to get through a federal agency building checkpoint. I give her the benefit of the doubt that she was talking about the license design and not the photo!

But also, my husband shot this photo when we were hanging out in Joma Cafe in Luang Prabang, Laos. There was a window next to us where, over coffee and pastries, we watched a world go by, a world very different than the one we know in our American suburb. And often I’d honestly much rather be traveling around the world than stuck in our suburb. I recently found this photo again, and it reminds me of the good times when we travel. That’s why it’s on a bookshelf with our travel books. On our travel short list now: Bhutan, Myanmar, Morocco and Istanbul.

If you have wanderlust too, visit both Paint+Pattern and curated – they each have a global design view and will take you on a trip around the world!