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Archive for January 19th, 2014

Michael Smith Courtney Barnes WSJ border article

Friday’s Wall Street Journal brought a wonderful article by one of my favorite bloggers, Style Court‘s Courtney Barnes on the charm of self bordered textiles. I have long been obsessed with traditional Indian fabrics which routinely use borders as integral parts of their design as well as modern renderings by many of my favorite textile designers, including those of Zak+ Fox , Peter Dunham and Parlor Textiles, whose fabrics are illustrated in the article. Using the auction of a pair of armchairs, covered by designer Michael Smith in a bordered textile reprinted from an antique one in his own collection as the starting point of her musings, she pulls us into the intimate story of her own passion for the fabrics. As luck and serendipity would have it, this was the very topic on my mind exactly as I was reading it.

My own Michael Smith bordered fabric illumination occurred years ago with this Santa Barbara guest house in which he used a myriad of inexpensive Urban Outfitters Indian bedspreads to upholster the walls, the furniture and make the draperies. His masterful manipulation of the borders really demonstrated the punctuation they can provide, in this case both as a fillet and curtain edge and trim. His use of these simple artisanal fabrics turned me on to the idea of their flexibility. You know I love good repurposing!

Michael Smith Indian beadspreads

The serendipity part comes in because I have been working on and off all fall and in particular this past week for my most exacting client to date – my 14-year-old daughter. When moving a young teenager halfway round the world to a new school, it’s good to have a bribe, in this case a big new bedroom and entirely new decor as she had outgrown the furniture and color scheme of her old space. Add an en suite bathroom – about the size of her old Tokyo bedroom – and the potential for happiness goes way up. While her younger sister’s room is basically finished, progress on her’s had stalled. Her request for soft blues and a bit of Indian block print had resulted in this dreamy Instagram palette, but other than actually ordering the Parlor Textiles French Ikat in blue for her headboard and bedskirt, nothing had been done.

Instagram blue design scheme for G's room

For that “bit of Indian block print” I had turned to my favorite source, Aleta Bartel-Orton (also mentioned by Courtney in the article), whose online shop sells both her’s and Brigitte Singh‘s beautiful fabrics. The bedroom plan calls for Roman shades, ideally to be made in a blue and white print, highlighted by some sort of decorative edge. In addition to yardage, Aleta has tablecloths and other finished pieces available which I thought might be perfect as they tend to have borders. But while I was scrolling around the website I realized that what I really wanted was my favorite old standby, Hibiscus Branch. Of course, the print run is finished and there is basically none left – why is it I only manage to figure out that I need a particular fabric from her only after she is out of it? Luckily Aleta was willing to search for any remaining pieces of the Hibiscus Branch (and it seems like there may be just enough)…

Brigitte Singh Hibiscus branch blue Aleta

…and also came up with this cotton panel, mainly white and unprinted but with the loveliest borders which will be added to the Roman shades to create the effect of a single fabric. The flowered portion won’t go to waste either – I’ll use it to make throw pillows. It’s good to note here that complimentary fabrics can be combined to create the bordered look.

Blue Hibiscus Cotton

This brings me back to Michael Smith’s bargain trick with bedspreads that I find works even better with tablecloths. Different projects need different sizes and tablecloths are available small to large. Both can be counted on the have the quality Courtney refers to her in her article, the constrained “frames, along with symmetry, to bring order to a profusion of ornament.” So in addition to Aleta’s offerings, other resources I have been exploring include Priya Raj’s beautiful block prints at Peacocks and Paisleys. I almost grabbed this Exotic Mint Sprigs tablecloth in the sale this weekend with an eye towards using it to make a shade for the guest room.

exotic mint sprigs peacocks and paisleys

And instead of ho-hum shower curtains, it’s not that hard to put 12 button holes in a tablecloth or bed sheet, which is exactly what I am planning on doing in my daughter’s bedroom with the block printed bed sheet I bought this summer from Jaypore. And for purpose made shower curtains in block print patterns, take a look at Saffron Marigold. I recently recommended their Wedding Day pattern for an impossibly boring yellowy-beige bathroom.

saffron marigold wedding day yellow shower curtain

I have also given up on trying to get permission to change the ugly tiles in our kitchen here and am going for a new approach which involves distraction. In searching for fabrics for the French chairs, I had an epiphany and realized Mally Skok‘s Rohet Multi on Oyster might be just the thing to link the disparate elements in the kitchen together. More on that later in the week but be sure to notice that it too has a border.

Screenshot 2014-01-18 12.13.27

I’ll be putting it to good use.

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A Curtain’s Leading Edge…a New Idea for Kaku-obi

Image credits: First two photos Michael Smith via 1. The Wall Street Journal, 2. Cote de Texas. Other photos mine or as linked.

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