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!

DIY Tassel Bundle in Two Easy Steps

I recently wrote about how tribal tassels are so boho chic right now. I’ve wanted to dangle tassels off a tote bag handle à la “Anthropologie style:”

Anthropologie Tote Bags with Tassels

But where do you buy a tassel bundle? I’m not sure you can? It’s easy to find single tassels, but a bundle of them? An obvious solution is to make DIY tassel bundles! It’s super easy. Here’s mine:

Tassel Bundle on Tote Bag

Here’s the supplies to gather if you want a tassel bundle like mine. Of course you can use your creativity and go off this beaten path and make your own unique tassel bundle with different materials.

Supplies to Make DIY Tassel Bundle


  • Three tassels – I chose one large and two small tassels in black and red. Found at Joann near the upholstery section, in the trimmings aisle with rope/cording and tassels. These trimmings are usually put on pillows, curtains and curtain tie-backs but let’s use them for something else!
  • Little tassels of beads hanging on ribbon – Found at Joann in the trimmings aisle near the upholstery section
  • Beads with wide holes – Found at Joann in the jewelry-making aisle
  • Key ring – Found at Joann or Hobby Lobby in the jewelry-making aisle

That’s it! Simple supplies.

There’s a red and black claw or tooth shape thing in the supplies photos that I didn’t use — it added too much weight. But it’s cool-lookin’ so I’ll do something else with it.

Supplies to Make DIY Tassel Bundle

How to Make It

Step 1. First string a few beads onto the long string loop for each tassel. I used a mix of silver and gold beads. You could also use wood beads or glass beads. Just make sure the beads have wide holes. You need holes wide enough to thread the thicker string through, as you can see here.

Thread Beads on Tassel Loops

The beads (whatever material you choose) add a contrasting element to the tassels so you don’t have just plain tassels hanging down. This little addition makes a big difference visually.

Leave a little loop sticking out from the beads:

Beads Threaded on Tassel Loops

Step 2. String the various tassels, charms, etc. onto the the key ring.

How to Make a DIY Tassel Bundle

You’re done! That’s it!

My key ring had a flip-open feature that made it easier to put the tassels on it:

Loading Tassels on Keyring

I think if you choose five elements to hang on the key ring, you’ll have a nice bundle. It could be five tassels. It could be a combo of tassels and beads threaded on yarn. You could hang charms. Or if you can find beaded tassels, as I lucked out to find in my bundle’s colors, grab them! Those beads will beef up the boho style.

Bohemian Tassels

So after you made this thing, what do you do with a tassel bundle? You can hang it from a cabinet knob or handle. Like these tassels shown by The Southern:

Hang Tassels from Cabinet Knobs and Handles

You can hang it from a doorknob. Like this tassel Slim Paley photographed at the Royal Mansour in Marrakech:

Tassels at the Royal Mansour in Marrakech by Slim Paley

You can hang it on a handbag handle. Like my tassel hanging on a tote bag I stenciled:

Tassel Bundle on Tote Bag

That painted stenciled tote bag is the next post!

A Fortune of Fortuny

There’s a fortune of Fortuny for sale over at One Kings Lane. Like, the fabric-covered cabinet shown here is over $12K. So although I won’t be partaking in it, it’s free to look. Such luscious and elegant textiles! Here are my favorites:

Fortuny Fabric Favorites

If you like Fortuny, you can find remnants on eBay, did you know? There’s nearly always someone selling left-over remnants there. They’re pretty affordable. You can frame them, make small pillows or piece them with other remnants into larger pillows, or make little handbags.

Painting Otomi Patterns

Otomi is a folk art pattern that’s embroidered in bright colors by the Otomi people in Mexico. To learn more and see lots of colorful examples of it, visit a great article about Otomi at Paint + Pattern. And here’s a few ideas of how and where to use Otomi textiles:

How and Where to Use Otomi

Sources: Design*Sponge headboard (Grace Bonney seems to have gone on an epic search for Otomi back in 2006 but nowadays it’s very available as you can see), Stray Dog Designs pendant lamp, Joss & Main table lamp, Land of Nod pillow, Marshall Watson Interiors bed throw

The above examples are all embroidered and embroidered Otomi can get quite pricey.

Did you know you can paint an Otomi pattern yourself with stencils? You can use an Otomi stencil to paint a table runner or even paint an entire small table, like this inexpensive Ikea table that was painted with stencils (see the whole story and how-to here):

Ikea Table Painted with Otomi Stencil
This is why I love stencils. I unfortunately don’t have the skill to draw or paint a pattern “from scratch.” But I can take things that already exist and put them together. And so can you! Stencils make it really easy to do that. For example in the photo above of the little Ikea table, you just 1.) look for stencil patterns that would fit on the table top, sides and legs and then 2.) paint them which is so easy to do.

So I had the idea to put Otomi pattern on tote bags for totin’ to the summer farmers markets. With the color and joyful dancing patterns, doesn’t this feel summery? I used Royal Design Studio’s Otomi stencil — the same one used on the table above — in the smaller size. And here’s the final result — a colorful tote bag that I created for an article at Paint + Pattern blogzine about how to DIY a bag like this:

DIY Stenciled Otomi Tote Bag Featured at Paint and Pattern Blogzine

Seriously, this was so fun to paint, I made two in different colors!

Stenciled DIY Otomi Tote Bags via Paint and Pattern

All the how-to steps and supplies to make this are in my article over at Paint + Pattern — check it out!

If you like the embroidered examples above — the headboard, lamps, pillow and bed throw — you can paint fabric to turn in to these things. And when you paint, you can choose whatever color you want.

You might have noticed I’ve done a lot of stencil projects lately. And there’s a reason for that. With stencils it’s so easy to get a really impactful look that looks like it took a lot more effort than it really did. Of course when you’re painting there’s some preparation time (I even pre-washed and ironed the tote bags to avoid shrinkage later), and you get a better result when you paint slower rather than faster. But would you be able to create this Otomi pattern yourself? Most likely not. And if you tried, it would take a ton of time. With a stencil, the pattern is already done for you. So that’s what I mean about getting a lot of impact for the time you put into a project.

This blog might make it look like I have unlimited time to do DIYs and write about decor, but I really don’t. I have a full-time job, a Chicago-style commute, a house that needs work, and in the spring/summer a big property that needs attention so it’s not over-run with out-of-control plants. Plus, you know, we do fun stuff not just house stuff too!

But I think this just proves my point — the reason I love stencils is you can get a stylish and satisfying project done that looks like it took a lot more to do it than it really did!