As a designer, I find that I’m more inspired by the past than hot, new trends. I love exploring designs that have stood the test of time. My job is to make them new again. Toile has always been a favorite for me. Painted scenes that tell a story are the essence of this 16th-century French decorating pattern. I did a deep dive into the history of toile in preparation for AphroChic’s Brooklyn Renaissance Collection, studying how today’s designers are updating these traditional treatments with contemporary stories and colors. Here are a few of my favorites. Designs that are completely reshaping the way we see and use toile in interiors.
The Parisian company Manuel Canovas has the most beautiful Toiles Collection of fabric and wallpaper. The designers at Manuel Canovas demonstrate just how beautiful toile prints in mod colors like fuchsia and paprika can be. It’s French design in a whole new light.
When I came up with idea for the modern toile for our Brooklyn Renaissance collection, I knew I wanted something completely out of the box. My husband and I worked with Brooklyn-based artist Samantha Hahn to create the Brooklyn Life Indoor toile that tells the story of young women living in Brooklyn on a really fun and fantastic (if I do say so myself) pillow.
A particular design by Sheila Bridges greatly influenced my Brooklyn Life toile. Her Harlem Toile de Jouy Wallpaper is so unique, presenting baroque scenes of “Afro-French” people. It comes in a range of hues like yellow, robin’s egg blue and cherry, and it is certain to brighten any interior.
I have a love/hate relationship with the beginning of autumn, almost as if I’m Robert Redford and autumn is Barbra Streisand and we live on a planet in The Way We Were galaxy. Hate: My allergies act up and throw off my productivity. Love: I’m instantly brought back to the late 1990′s during my college days in Tallahassee, Florida. While lots of people have fond memories of funnels and blacked-out blurs, I think of open windows on breezy afternoons, piles of leaves on the sidewalks and the very angry lyrics of one Ms. Alanis Morissette playing in my black/tan 1993 Jeep Wrangler. But above all, I think of the iconic style that goes along with college: tartan, plaid, varsity letters and the overall preppy vibe that is early-twentysomething-ness.
While sourcing materials for my latest bachelor clients, I’ve been noticing how drawn I am to all things preppy. There’s something classic and graphic that goes along with the style; it also works well with different aesthetics, from uber-traditional to contemporary or mod. As I compiled ideas for clients, I came across some textile-ish items sporting that collegiate look. Whether you’re looking for that perfect comforter or plan to cover your adult office in Ralph Lauren tartan, here are some collegiately stylish items available online that evoke that studious feel. You know who wishes he could be studying shelter magazines right now but he can’t due to his sinuses killing him? Me. The love/hate relationship with autumn is in full effect.
The Beverly Hills Polo Club Argyle 3-Piece Comforter Set in navy from Amazon.com is a cost-effective way to add a studios look to any bedroom. Add a few accents of hot pink to give it a girly edge or pair it with fire engine red or lime green for a colorful, masculine look.
Ralph Lauren has been King of the Preppies since the 1970′s. His Ethan Tartan wallpaper is insanely affordable and a great way to add classic, preppy elegance to just about any room. At $60 per roll, it’s possible to cover a teency weency powder room for less than $250. There are two options: green/blue and red/green. Personally, I’m drawn to the red since it’s a bit more gender neutral.
How many people do you know with plaid floors? Exactly! FLOR’s Pop Tartan adds a graphic touch of preppy right underfoot. This is exceptionally wonderful for students looking to dress up their dorms or for families with kids since the product is totally reusable. Just stick the carpet tiles down in whatever configuration is needed now, then pull them down and lay ‘em in your next place. If you get a stain on a square, simply swap it out.
When I was little, I loved to pick the magenta-hued poke berries from my parents’ yard and smash them up to dye rags, doll clothes and, usually, sections of whatever I happened to be wearing that day. But as a (mostly) grown-up girl, I haven’t experimented much with natural dyes. So in honor of September’s Color of the Month, I’m trying one of the world’s oldest, richest dyeing techniques: indigo. From growing the plant to making the dye, here’s how you can create your own vibrant indigo piece.
Clockwise from top-left: 1. Indigo-Dyed Kaya :: Sri Threads 2. DIY Shibori :: Honestly, WTF 3. Shibori-Dyed Japanese Cotton Scarves :: Sweet Georgian Yams 4. Shibori Print Close-Up :: nara blog
Indigo has a history as rich as its midnight hue: It’s mentioned in Indian manuscripts from as far back as the fourth century, and its vibrant hue was the impetus for the centuries-old textile trade in West Africa. And there’s a reason the natural version is still popular worldwide: It creates color that’s brighter than the synthetic stuff and doesn’t fade.
Growing and Harvesting Indigo
To really get to the, ahem, root of this tradition, do as the traditionalists do: plant and harvest your own indigo plants. The deep, dark hue actually starts as an unassuming green plant. There are nearly 300 varieties of indigo, but all are easy to grow and the nitrogen the plants release even makes it easier for edible crops like corn and wheat to grow nearby.
Clockwise from top-left: 1. Indigo plants :: Britt Browne 2. New indigo seedlings :: Britt Browne 3. Indigo powder: Britt Browne 4. Kenichi Utsuki stirring up one of three dye vats :: Sweet Georgia Yams 5. Moroccan indigo :: Britt Browne 6. Making indigo balls :: Henry Drewal
When the plants mature, the leaves can be dried or turned into long-lasting “indigo balls” — the harvested leaves are pounded into balls and left in the sun to dry. When you’re ready to make dye, draw the color out of the leaves by soaking them in alkaline water, draining and paddling to separate the indigo solids from the liquid. The sediment that’s left is pure indigo powder, which can be pressed into cakes for later use. Get the full indigo recipe and how-to at Hand/Eye Magazine.
One freezing cold January, Vicky and Marinique Dabissiere visited an uninhabited house in Queens, New York, after receiving a call from a former client. Her parents had bought an older house, and the client wanted the sisters of LaVie Design to bring it into the 21st century for them. When Vicky and Marinique crossed the threshold, they discovered a house stuck in the 1970s. Mirrored walls loomed all around. Layers of dust covered the wood floors, parts of which needed serious repairs. The old cracked plaster walls were painted a shade of white that had obviously lost its umph over the decades. As you’ll see, this talented design duo turned the neglected 1,438 square-foot New York house into a traditional, but unexpected refuge that exceeded their clients’ wants and needs.
Vicky says: After touring the first floor, we asked the clients about their design style and tastes. The wife, who was at first hesitant, eventually voiced that she liked prints and that while she liked color, she tended to gravitate towards earth tones. She described her style as traditional, but not too traditional. The husband’s main wish was that the family room be “comfortable”. We had four weeks to work with their contractor before the family would need to move in. That is no time in the design world! As we sketched, photographed and measured the space, we could see that the rooms had great bones and underneath the layers of dust and years of neglect, there was indeed a hidden treasure.
The clients were originally from the Caribbean, so we chose to interpret the island feel through color, fabrics and accessories. We painted the living room walls in Benjamin Moore’s Leisure Green. The only moldings in the room were those that accented the walls, and they were caked with decades old paint. We all liked the visual interest they provided to the walls, so we had the contractor replace them and paint them in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove. The moldings certainly help the mother of pearl mirror and black/amber accent chest pop against the possibly overwhelming green walls. Since the clients decided to forego installing central heating and opted to keep the radiators original to the house, we painted those the same color as the walls so they would seamlessly disappear into the background. (On the right in the top photo.)
When it came to the lighting in the living room, in addition to the wall sconces, the space needed more central lighting. Rather than adding wiring to the ceiling for a chandelier, we had the electrician install an electrical socket in the floor in the center of the room for side table lighting. This gave the clients the option of turning on only the table lamps for a more intimate mood.
You know the frustration of not being able to find a pen or paper anywhere in the house and instead having to scribble something important down on the back of a piece of mail with a carrot or lipstick, right? That’s how I felt a few months ago while trying to source pinstripe fabric to upholster a client’s master bedroom walls. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find a decent pinstripe to save my life. What the hell is wrong with the world when a guy can’t find a decent pinstripe ANYTHING? Did Joan Crawford buy every damn yard of pinstripe in her heyday for her famous power suits? But I digress. As pinstriped products started to surface after some serious sourcing, I promised myself I’d try and make life easier for any other design lovers looking for menswear-centric materials. From discount fabric to ready-made window cornices, here’s a half dozen doozies sporting pinstriped perfection. Now that all is fine and dandy with my menswear quest, I’m currently sourcing pear, white and tangerine geometric wallpaper fit for a nursery. Guess how that’s going? Let’s just say there will be another post in a few months just like this one.
The Stretch Pinstripe Short Dining Room Chair Cover in black from Sure Fit is a cost-effective way (only $14.99) to add a menswear touch to existing dining chairs. Although available in several colors, the black color way looks the most chic.
As far as what I ended up using for the aforementioned master bedroom walls, I came across this insanely affordable 1/4 Pinstripe Suiting Fabric in Navy/Black from fabric.com for $6.98 per yard. When using fabric on walls, you can go two different routes: have an upholsterer add batting to the walls, then fully upholster them, or drop the fabric bolt off to be backed with acrylic. To budget appropriately, keep in mind that decent backing runs about $10 per yard.
Hands down, the best pinstripe fabric out there is British fashion designer Paul Smith‘s “Bespoke” line for Maharam. The Shade Store carries customizable cornices sure to give any window a tailored, menswear-inspired look. I will tell you what will not give a window a tailored look: plastic mini-blinds. Blech, I feel like those monsters sit perched in windows, peering at me just waiting to steal my soul.
American designer Thomas O’Brien is known for his classic, masculine style. Luckily for us, that style is available to all quite affordably through Target. The Menswear Duvet – Espresso looks like custom bedding; however, it’s mass-produced and less than a hundred smackeroos. Considering the fact that dudes can’t even get a decent pair of jeans for less than $100, I’d say this deal is superb.
Confession: I’m kind of a Hunger Games fangirl. If you’re not already familiar with the gripping trilogy of young-adult sci-fi novels, you will be soon, because it’s about to get Harry Potter huge. I saw another woman my age reading the second book in the series alone at a bar the other day. She’d taken the dust jacket off, but wasn’t fooling me. And who’d want to hide their fandom anyway when you can sport it with cool goods, like this crochet pop art mockingjay blanket?
Superfan Shylah Addante puts her passion for the books into yarn, and the results are always amazing. You can check out the other Panem-inspired blankets she’s created at DeviantART and purchase some from her Etsy store. (Provided that other fans like yours truly don’t snap them up first.) Seriously, if this post makes no sense to you, get a move on and read those books before the first film adaptation comes out in March 2012! And if it does make sense, “May the odds be ever in your favor!”
Fall is fast approaching, but I’m trying to look on the bright side. And it doesn’t get much brighter than this Crate and Barrel Exclusive Marimekko Kumina Orange Tablecloth, does it?
The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here! The famous Finnish fashion and textile company has teamed up with Crate and Barrel again for The Marimekko Shop, dedicated to their brightly-colored and dazzlingly-patterned products. You can shop online through Crate and Barrel’s website, or you can visit one of the five select Crate and Barrel locations now open with a Marimekko Shop inside. I’m really feeling this tablecloth’s autumnal palette and harvest print, and think it could class up a Halloween party or make a punchy Thanksgiving tablescape. Maybe I’m falling for fall after all…
Are you looking for towels that are modern, featuring bright colors or bold stripes…and that feel incredible? That’s exactly what I found on a trip to the Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. My sister and I came across the Bath Style booth, and they specialize in Turkish bath towels, or peshtemals. I could not get over their beauty. I knew I absolutely had to learn more about these hand-woven pieces and what other incredible designs are coming of Turkey. After a bit of digging, I came across some beautiful Turkish designs that range from bath towels to rugs, pillows and even ceramics. My four picks offer perfect ways to infuse culture, color and one-of-a-kind design in your home.
While Turkish bath towels can’t be found everywhere just yet, the Etsy shop Bath Style has an incredible array in stock. Peshtemals are known for their absorbency and unique styles, which are representative of different regions in the country. I think these towels are so appealing, why limit their use just to a bathroom? They would make gorgeous table cloths or throws for a casual living room.
Yastik, based in Istanbul, presents a new collection of Turkish pillows every season. “Yastik” is the Turkish word for cushions, and these cushions are absolute works of art. The colors and attention to detail in each one is breathtaking. I’d love to have an entire collection at home.
A few months ago when I was strolling through design centers in New York and in Atlanta, I was blown away by the selection of high-end looking indoor/outdoor fabrics and rugs which sacrifice neither style nor substance. While many had price tags that rival the cost of my own home’s kitchen renovation, some were quite reasonable. Fast forward four months, and I now own many of them and actually sneak outside (albeit only for a short 13 minutes) to use them. You see, summertime makes me wanna punch the sun in the face. Being from Florida, all this sweaty season makes me think of is intense humidity, puffy hair and daily 3:00pm splash-’n-dash thunderstorms. Fortunately, I’ve found that some summertastic indoor/outdoor decor that has the power to de-Scrooge me and make me more like a temporary outdoorsy Tiny Tim. So before you run outside and see your follicles start mushroom-clouding, take a look at some of these awesome indoor/outdoor, mildew-resistant products which will make the intense summer a little more bearable. Well, aesthetically-speaking, that is. Come to think of it, maybe the sun needs a makeover. Can large masses of solar-system sustaining energy be on HGTV or does that propose a conflict? Ha!
Velvet you can use outside. Um, like, thank you Sunbrella
comes in an assortment of colors and feels amazing to lounge on. Also an excellent idea to use it indoors if you want a glamorous look but have not-so-glamorous, tantrum-throwing little ones who often spill sippy cups on your upholstery.
has taken indoor/outdoor upholstery detail to the next level. Their cabana line includes tassles and trim to add that extra layer of designer touch to your outdoor draperies or furniture.
While lime is HGTV’s Color of the Month for July, its deeper, darker cousin — emerald green — is the rising “it” color. Where fashion goes, home decor soon follows, and last year emerald green kept popping up on runways. Now, it’s trending in interior design portfolios. This jewel-tone provides a rich backdrop and a touch of elegant sophistication when used for accessorizing. I hope you like some of my favorite luxe emerald green rooms that are sure to inspire.
Emerald green furnishings, combined with the screens, chandelier and moldings, take this living room “pinned” on Pinterest from stuffy to lively. My favorite element is the patchwork rug that has been dyed to bring the varying shades of green together in this space.
Coastal Living :: Photographer Lisa Romerein
For a fresh coastal mix bring emerald green pieces together with turquoise accessories. This room featured in Coastal Living is light, airy and perfect for the summer season in a refreshing color palette.
Lonny :: Interior Designer Miles Redd
For a rich look, go with your favorite shade of emerald and place it on the walls. Designer Miles Redd shows that this hue is a beautiful backdrop for a room with a mix of colors and pattern.