Falling Down the Pinterest Rabbit Hole

So yesterday I re-posted this door as part of a post about Moroccan zellij pattern tiles:

Vogue Living Inspiration Photo

If you’ve followed along here for awhile, this is not the first time you’ve seen this photo. I shared it as far back as three years ago when we first started planning how to decorate an apartment in South India. This is “the” inspiration photo for our master bedroom there. It’s from a 2008 or 2009 issue of Australian Vogue Living.

Only a few hours after I hit “publish” on yesterday’s post, I trip over this pin on Pinterest. Which I’ve pinned before, but apparently forgot.

Indian Inlaid Doors on Pinterest

Hmmm. Something there look familiar?

These doors were once available on eBay Australia?! Turns out, they are not zellij tile even though they look like it from a distance. Or if you have bad eyes as I do. They are mother of pearl. As you can see in this close-up photo around the handles:

Mother of Pearl Doors

Maybe only by falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole of pictures can you get so close to a visual figment of your imagination that you’ve obsessed about for years.

Through a Pinterest link to Remodelista, I discover that Sibella Court featured the above image with the handles in her book, Nomad: A Global Approach to Interior Style. As the original image appeared in Australian Vogue Living, I wonder if she was involved in the styling. According to Anne Sage of The City Sage blog, this was a styled shoot for product, not a scene in someone’s house.

This could be called “research.”

Or it could be called “too much time on Pinterest.”


About a Certain Zellij Pattern

There’s a Moroccan zellij pattern that I get drawn to over and over. Whenever it pops up on a website or Pinterest, little pattern antennae in my brain start quivering around happily. Why? Who knows. Is there a test that will tell you something about yourself if you like one pattern more than another? Like the visual pattern equivalent of Myers-Briggs? If there isn’t such a test, maybe I should create one? The Zellij Test.

Zellij (also spelled zellige) is a type of tile pattern in Morocco and it comes in lots of geometric patterns. Some circular. Some starry looking. Some striped. Some are squares and rectangles. If you’ve seen photos of colorful geometric ceramic tile patterns in Morocco, you’ve seen zellij. It takes both a patient artist and a precise mathematical genius to create these patterns.

The pattern I most appreciate for some mysterious reason is this one, with the squares and eight-point stars:

Moroccan Zellij Pattern

Those are often-photographed ceramic tiles in Fez, Morocco.

Here it’s on the lower half of a wall in a post about Moroccan zellij tiles on Sandra Espinet’s blog about well-traveled style:

Moroccan Zellij Tile via Sandra Espinet Blog

Here’s a very similar pattern in the Phulkari Embroidered Mini Shift Dress from Free People:

Free People Phulkari Embroidered Mini Shift Dress

That dress is great inspiration for colors to use with this zellij pattern too.

A similar pattern with squares instead of the eight-point star is in the background of this image from Marie Claire:

Marie Claire

If you like this zellij pattern too, you can paint it on things yourself! It’s available in the Star Diamonds Moroccan stencil from Royal Design Studio:

Star Diamonds Stencil

It’s available in two sizes and I own both, as I purchased them a few years ago for a wall in the master bedroom of our apartment in Chennai, India. This is the inspiration photo (from Vogue Living in Australia) and while I will take this inspiration and make it unique, I love it down to the tall columns flanking a low bed. Every time I see chippy painted wood columns with cement capitals in India, I see them in a scene like this in our apartment there:

Vogue Living Inspiration Photo

If this has piqued your interest in zellij, here’s a good article from Ceramics Today about zellij tile in Morocco.

Dupatta Curtains

True to my global style, I can’t get curtains from Bed, Bath & Beyond at the shopping center outside our neighborhood. No, that’s too close! Do you know what’s perfect for curtains? Dupattas. Dupattas, if you’re not familiar with them, are like long wide scarves or lightweight shawls. They’re worn by women in India as part of clothing, usually with churidars which are like long tunics. Here’s a dupatta from Jaypore, made from silk and handwoven and hand block printed:

Silk Dupatta from Jaypore

Couldn’t you see this as a fun curtain? It could be in a boho style room, or a curtain for a girl’s bedroom.

Dupattas are shorter than saris. Dupattas can be around 80-90 inches while saris are often 6 feet or more in length. While you can cut a sari to curtain length, a single dupatta is usually already a perfect length to hang as a curtain. Just back the dupatta with a cotton fabric to block sunshine from degrading the dupatta fabric and any color dyes, and you have curtains! While you’re sewing a cotton backing onto it, you can add a pocket for a rod at the top, or install grommets for a rod, or hang with rings. It’s very easy to convert a dupatta to a curtain.

I’ve been on the hunt for a long time for the perfect dupatta to make cafe curtains for our master bedroom. And I found it at Jaypore:

Dupatta Curtains

Yes the dupatta is a bit sheer, but as I said above, you will want to add a lining to protect it from the sun. This will soon be cut and sewn into curtains, and of course the DIY post will be coming soon!

Meanwhile, there’s a large selection of beautiful dupatta on Jaypore right now so I’ll share a few more to get your creative curtain visions going. Because I was inspired to get many more dupatta but chose only one. So please, someone, buy the rest so there’s no temptation. :)

At a generous 100 inches in length, this would make a subtle patterned curtain for a tall window or tall ceiling. It’s a Maheshwari cotton silk dupatta, handwoven by master craftsmen and block printed by hand using Khari technique (I think these might all be one-of-a-kind so while they’re available today as I link to them, no promises about availability tomorrow!):

Dupatta from Jaypore

A modern leaf pattern on organic silk, this would make a bold graphic statement when paired with mid century modern furnishings:

Modern Leaf Pattern Dupatta from Jaypore

I see this silk dupatta textile hanging in a sunny bohemian breakfast nook:

Jaypore Dupatta

This cotton-silk dupatta is so unique – I challenge you to find something like this in any curtain department:

Black White Red Dupatta from Jaypore

How about add a little dash of India style to a beachy decor vibe? It’s possible with a blue dupatta like this. The lightweight silk would fly on the breeze of open windows in the summer:

Jaypore Blue Hand Woven Dupatta

Finally, florals hand-painted on silk, from India but perfect on windows overlooking an English cottage garden:

Silk Dupatta with Hand-Painted Florals from Jaypore

I hope this shows you just a taste of the range of colors and patterns on dupatta textiles. You can also find vintage and new dupatta on eBay and Etsy, as well as online stores that sell Indian clothing.

DIY Chinese Style Treasure Chest Box

Yesterday I showed how the distinctive look of brass Chinese hardware brings a touch of the Far East to furniture. And I shared my once-secret source of how to get this hardware so you can buy it and use it yourself. I’ve done two DIY projects where I added Chinese hardware – one time to a small storage cabinet and another to a simple painted paper mache box:

Chinese Hardware Added to Painted Paper Mache Box

That is a “mushroom” style latch closure from Chinese Brass Hardware on eBay. Their selection changes and I don’t see that exact one right now, but there’s a similar one available in a round shape:

Mushroom Style Brass Chinese Hardware

If you order hardware for a project, watch the size descriptions on the eBay product listing. Some of this hardware is very large, designed for big 7 foot tall cabinets. And some pieces such as this one are smaller, about 3″ in diameter, and made for smaller chests or drawers. Make sure you order a size that fits your project. This shows the pieces you would get for hardware like this one:

Chinese Brass Hardware Pieces to Assemble

It’s very easy to assemble and the Chinese Brass Hardware store shows how to do it, step-by-step with pictures on each eBay product listing.

So, I made this box with a Chinese dragon stencil and the special Chinese hardware as part of a bunch of super fun DIY projects I’ve done for Paint and Pattern – a blogzine about the whole world of color and pattern out there:

Chinese Style Box with Stenciled Dragon

Literally, we are going around the world this year at Paint and Pattern, and each month we share inspiration and projects from different cultures and countries. April was Asia month and I knew it was a perfect excuse to play with Chinese hardware again! As you can see above, I photographed this box in front of a real Chinese cabinet – that’s our burlwood and black painted cabinet holding all our dinnerware. (And, the throw over the chair is from a tribe that lives in Laos and Vietnam – why not mix things up!)

Believe it or not, the box started as a plain brown paper mache box found at Michael’s craft store:

Supplies for Painted Chinese Box

And with the magic of paint and a really cool dragon stencil from Royal Design Studio, the box was gradually transformed into something that looks like it came from a Shanghai souvenir shop:

Gilded Chinese Dragon Stencil

To see tips and tricks for how to paint a gilded gold antique-looking box like this – doesn’t even have to be Chinese style, you can use these techniques for any design you want to paint on a box – hop on over to my post at Paint and Pattern!

How to Add Chinese Hardware to Furniture and DIYs


How to Add a Far East Touch with Chinese Hardware

If you’d like to add a flair of the Far East in your home, it’s actually really easy to do. There are a few distinctive details and one of them is hardware. Chinese hardware is often a burnished brushed brass color. Like a soft-looking metal. The brass can take many shapes, often with big dramatic backplates and dangling pulls. Let’s take a look …

(And, follow through to the end of the post where you will find my super-secret source for Chinese hardware which as of now, is no longer so super-secret.)

From PUREfourhundred:

Chinese Hardware PUREfourhundred

This shows simple Chinese hardware on a cabinet, photographed by me at Primitive in Chicago:

Chinese Hardware on Red Cabinet

Here’s another red cabinet with typical simple Chinese hardware. You’re going to see a lot of red cabinets and sideboards because it’s pretty common to use red lacquer on Chinese furniture. I like how this furniture from the Far East is combined with strong simple shapes from other cultures around the world. Originally from House Beautiful:

Red Chinese Cabinet with Global Accessories via House Beautiful

From Apartment f15, tribal Afghan and Turkish jewelry hanging from Chinese cabinet hardware for global flair:

Apartmentf15 Chinese Cabinet with Tribal Jewelry

For a change of color, here etched brass door pulls on a yellow Chinese cabinet. Maybe the internet is getting over-saturated with images because it’s getting harder and harder to trace images to originals through my tried and true methods. If you know the source of this one, let me know:

Etched Brass Chinese Door Pulls


So far, by analyzing these photos for visual patterns, you can see a big part of the look is the large decorative backplates, which can come in many shapes, and they can be etched with decorations or left plain.

This next one is a striking combo of very large backplate with two smaller door pulls. This super oversized look is my favorite. This cabinet was featured at Skona Hem:

Red Lacquer Chinese Cabinet via Skona Hem


From Golden Lotus Antiques, this is the coolest treatment of hardware. It’s like mesh combined with the traditional round backplate shape:

Black Lacquer Chinese Cabinet via Golden Lotus Antiques

Source for Chinese Hardware:

As promised, here is my once super-secret source for getting this hardware:  An eBay store called Chinese Brass Hardware. I share because I just like to share like that, and surely there’s enough of this hardware to go around!

Here’s a project I did where I used their hardware. I did a makeover on an old cabinet that was once Danish modern, and turned it into Chinese antique style. The post showing that process is here. I chose an oversized set of hardware, just because:

Danish Cabinet Makeover into Antique Chinese Style

In the next post, I’ll share another, smaller project made using hardware from that eBay store!

If you like this Chinese style, there’s a lot more of this on my Pinterest Chinese Style Board:

An Extraordinary Journey from Life Advice to India Style

After recent posts here focused on “stuff” and “things,” perhaps this post should have more intelligent words. Like big words with five syllables. Like “extraordinary.” I had shared some inspirational thoughts here a few weeks ago about how “extraordinary” should be within our reach if we want it.

Priya Iyer of Once Upon a Tea Time blog and curated magazine asked me to talk more about this. So I’ve revealed more in the April issue of curated about how to actually do it. How to get the kite of your dreams aloft and soaring high.

Mixed Media Kite Print from The Freckled Army Shop on Etsy

Mixed media print from The Freckled Army shop at Etsy

How?? One bit of advice involves structure. Even if you have a creative soul, structure helps. I tend to want to rebel against structure and discipline, honestly, but maybe I shouldn’t. When I think about the high-achieving times of my life at work and school, there was structure. And maybe, just maybe, we really are not all that different from people like Thomas Edison. Maybe what extraordinary people like him do is possible for us too. Do check it out!

And notice … the kite on the cover of curated!

If you are following along here, you might like global style and especially the colors and style of India. My article starts on page 30 but feast your eyes on the other pages too! You may want to fill a cup of tea for this magazine and spend some time with it. Its pages are full of saturated color and patterns and even textures of India’s zardozi textiles.

The home of Sruthi Singh of The East Coast Desi blog is featured. Pages 7 through 29 are like a generous journey through the style of India in her home. I love how she has hung brass bells from carved wooden corbels. I think they are lotus bud shapes? It’s a really unique way to decorate a wall and feature iconic things from India. She is masterful at mixing patterns in her home! Nearly every page has some pattern play to enjoy and study to learn from how she puts things together.

The East Coast Desi Home in Curated Magazine

Ahem … that coffee table! Love it!

And we get to meet the person behind the popular design blog An Indian Summer, Bhavna Bhatnagar. After all the style inspiration her blog has delivered to the world over the years, we get a peek into her own home’s style!

She talks about how her style has evolved and her blog along with that evolution. All I know is, my eyes want to drink up every post and photo at An Indian Summer. Bhavna has a talent for choosing gorgeousness!

What I’ve seen there over the years is an elegance, even when images are rustic there is an elegance to them, and an appreciation for detail. The scenes are loaded with fine, subtle and sometimes contrasting detail. As an example, this is an image I remember seeing on An Indian Summer blog and have remembered it ever since. It’s a delight that she recently re-ran this photo:

Rustic Elegance in India

Here are links to these India home decor and design blogs. I’ve enjoyed them all for years and you may too!


Spotted: Collections of Round Things on Walls

Could the post title be more articulate? Probably. But it describes exactly what I’ve been seeing lately − round things on walls. In big clustered collections. It all started a few weeks ago at the Antique and Garden Fair at Chicago Botanic Gardens. I saw this scattering of round things in The Golden Triangle’s booth:

Wooden Thai Rosettes from The Golden Triangle

They are wooden rosettes from Thailand. Some red, some ivory, all gilded with a touch of gold. It’s like a whole garden of these wooden blossoms is blown across the wall.

Then, while perusing Pinterest tonight, I see a similar cluster of round things on a wall:

Patterned Paper Circles on Wall via BHG

They are patterned paper medallions from Better Homes & Gardens. You could do this with scrapbook paper! BHG describes how to make these step-by-step here.

Then, not even an hour later, I see fellow Paint+Pattern blogzine contributor Debbie Dion Hayes’ photos from the High Point Furniture Show on her blog, My Patch of Blue Sky. And what do I see? She shows round things on a wall!

High Point Furniture Market Mirrored Orbs via Debbie Dion Hayes

Mirrored glass orbs! Although this makes me feel nervous just looking at it on a computer screen. With my penchant for breaking glass, paper round things would be much better on my home’s walls.

So once you see something for the third time in short order, it’s definitely a thing.

I decided to scroll through my “Collections” Board on Pinterest to see if there’s more examples:

Follow India pied-à-terre’s board Decor – Collections on Pinterest.

Sure enough. Yes.

These are ceiling medallions from home improvement store, painted and hung on a wall. From House & Home and  BHG:

Painted Ceiling Medallions on Walls

A wall garden of exuberant ceramic flowers, shown at Elle Decor:

Garden Wall Flowers from South African Ceramicists

A wall installation of juju hats, via Kronbali where you can get these hats:

Juju Hats from Kronbali

After those color bursts, I will leave you with a visual palate cleanser from Bloomingville before you go wherever you go next online!

Baskets on Wall via Bloomingville