Month: April 2016

7 Incredible Upcycles

In honor of Earth Day, let’s examine 7 incredible upcycles to–hopefully–inspire one of your own.  Following are a handful of projects that are both amazingly clever and undeniably good-looking.

7 Incredible Upcycles | Earth Day | Motley Decor

Instead of a kitchen island, designer Annie Brahler upcycled a large, vintage chest to occupy this cheery, light-filled kitchen.  To properly arm the piece for the job, she added additional storage and slapped on a marble counter top.  Kitchen-specific furnishings can often feel severe and sterile.  This chest-turned-kitchen island escapes that fate and is a charming companion to the fireplace, chandelier, antique chair, and other pieces that lend so much warmth to this space.   Found on House Beautiful.  

7 Incredible Upcycles | Earth Day | Motley Decor

This chandelier above boasts a traditional silhouette with cascading chains and festoons.  However, it is crafted entirely of used bike parts, primarily the chains.  The result is a tension between elegance and edginess that takes “statement lighting” to a whole new level.  Both ‘green’ and impossibly cool, these upcycled chandeliers by Facaro are receiving tons of attention in the design and art communities.

7 Incredible Upcycles | Earth Day | Motley Decor

We hear about “reclaimed wood” all of the time, but driftwood doesn’t seem to get its due.  Having spent many a summer of my childhood collecting driftwood from a nearby like, this strikes me as completely unjust.  Driftwood has infinite character with twisted curves and spiraled nubs and, as you can see from the vignette above (from AD France), it can be upcycled and fashioned into  some pretty fantastic-looking furniture.

7 Incredible Upcycles | Earth Day | Motley Decor

The origins of this dining room’s spectacular wall coverings may surprise you.  Those brightly colored, concentric panels are composed of discarded lottery tickets.  Was there ever a better example of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”?  Artwork by Ghost of a Dream (Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was) and image via 1stDibs.

7 Incredible Upcycles | Earth Day | Motley Decor

Found objects often make for conversation pieces in a home.  This oversize letter “A” is no exception.  Presumably the remnants of some mammoth signage, the alphabet’s first letter now spends its days propping up this improvised architect’s table, who’s top is an old door.  Together, these two upcycled pieces are much more interesting than your average, run-of-the-mill desk.  I call that green synergy.

7 Incredible Upcycles | Earth Day | Motley Decor

Getting creative with headboards has long occupied DIYers and–apparently–architect Dmitry Velikovsky.  He repurposed the back from 19th-century Burmese monk’s chair to add some oomph to his otherwise streamlined bedroom.  Both the intricate carvings and sense of history make for a awe-inspiring focal point.  Found on AD.

7 Incredible Upcycles | Earth Day | Motley Decor

The plain doors of this closet get a Hollywood Regency-inspired upgrade with a little paint, new knobs, and…wait for it, wait for it…a pair of ceiling medallions!  Why didn’t I think of that?  This clever hack is courtesy of OKL.

Upcycling isn’t just a way to be green–although that is an enormous perk!  It can also be chic and sophisticated.  Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to showcase your cleverness and incorporate artifacts into your home that might not fit under conventional circumstances.  Are the wheels of creativity in your head turning?  Fortunately, Earthy Day has landed on a Friday.  So, you now have the whole weekend to DIY and upcycle.  Get ‘er done!

3 Small Changes That Make Any Room Feel More Chic

Sometimes, small changes can make a big impact and go a long way towards making a room look and feel more chic.  Take the room above for example.  It contains three elements that elevate almost any space.  Can you guess what they are?  Let’s take them one at at time…

Black Lampshades

It’s funny that a change so small and so subtle can influence the atmosphere of an interior so much, but it does.  Many designers swear by the adage that every room needs something black.  Lampshades make an excellent candidate.  Look at what they did for these rooms…

3 Small Changes that Make Any Room Feel More Chic | Black Lampshades |

Elettra Wiedemann’s apartment is both daring and chic.  The carved peacock chair and furry sheep add a touch of whimsy; while the pair of towering brass lamps in the background maintain a sophisticated air with their black lampshades.

3 Small Changes that Make Any Room Feel More Chic | Motley Decor

This Spanish flat is a sea of white, accented by pops of color and eclectic finds.  Yet again, a pair of brass and black lamps lend a refined note to an unconventional space.  (This room actually features 2 of the 3 elements discussed in this blog.)

3 Small Changes for a More Chic-Feeling Room via

In a more traditional setting, like this dining room by Miles Redd, black lampshades rear their heads once again–this time bringing balance and unity to the space.

Animal Print

Although animal prints are sometimes dismissed as tacky, the right animal print in the right dosage can work wonders in a room.  Cases in point…

3 Small Changes that Make Any Room Feel More Chic

Charles Spada’s French Chateau is a restful, beautifully curated space.  The in-your-face leopard sofa is a surprising choice that energizes the sitting room and takes it from feeling predictable to feeling impossibly chic.  It lets you know that you’re in the realm of a confident decorator.

3 Small Changes that Make Any Room Feel More Chic

This little vignette gets a boost thanks to the python print frame around the mirror that adds loads of interest with its subtle pattern.

3 Small Changes That Make Any Room Feel More Chic

And if you still weren’t convinced of the merits of animal print, this ought to seal the deal.  It’s Ryan Korban’s dining room with a zebra rug.  Korban often uses animal prints in his monochrome interiors, which are always envy-inducingly chic.

3 Small Changes That Make Any Room Feel More Chic via

Finally, how cool does this tiger pillow look in this traditional-leaning bedroom?  It gives the room a delightful little jolt.

Abstract Art

Whether suspended from the ceiling, resting on a table, or hung prominently on the wall; abstract art always seems to harness a tremendous amount of power and impart soul to a space.  The result is almost always extra points in the chic department.  Take a look…

3 Small Changes for a More Chic Space

“It adds impact and a fun element,” says Christiane Lemieux to Family Circle of the abstract mobile that hovers above her dining table.  I think she’s being modest.  It makes the space feel uber cool.

3 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Feel More Chic

Andrew Gn’s second home in Paris features an abstract sculpture by Merete Rasmussen that–again–is an unexpected choice that surprises and delights.

3 Small Changes to Make Your Home Feel More Chic

And lastly, a painting by Cecily Brown (perhaps one of the most expressive abstract painters and a favorite of yours truly) enlivens this Miami dining room that can only be described as chic.

The moral of the story is that small changes can truly impact the chic factor of your home.  Try switching out a tired lampshade for a sophisticated black one.  Toss a little animal print into the mix.  Or, grace your space with some abstract art.  Any 1–or all 3–of these options might give you a whole new appreciation for your home.  Happy decorating and experimenting!

5 Splurges Worthy of Your Tax Refund

If you were lucky enough to receive a tax refund this year, chances are you’re in the mood to splurge a little.  However, deciding what to splurge on can be a tough decision.  Here are some suggestions from someone who didn’t get a refund this year, but wishes she did…

Statement Lighting

5 Tax Refund-Worthy Splurges | 1. Statement Lighting | RH Modern | Motley Decor

Earlier this year, I predicted that statement lighting (with a modern twist) would be one of the top home decor trends of 2016 and I’m sticking to my guns on this one.  Open any interior design magazine–large-scale, abstract light fixtures pepper the pages.  Retailers are taking note and producing more affordable options.  Case in point: the (above) Bistro Globe Chandelier from RH Modern.

Investing in statement lighting is a splurge worthy of your tax refund, because it’s high impact.  Lighting not only illuminates a room, but often serves as a focal point.  Furthermore, these modern simplified designs are flexible, harmonizing with a variety of styles and–for that reason–are likely to have longevity.


Minerals | 5 Splurges Worthy of Your Tax Refund | Motley Decor

It’s true: minerals from amethyst to marble are enjoying some serious attention from architects and interior designers alike.  Is this a temporary trend?  I think not.  Minerals belong to mother nature and mother nature doesn’t produce passing fads.  She is the creator of the world’s most beautiful wonders and a perennial source of inspiration to artists in every discipline.

That being said, if you are contemplating a new quartzite counter top or even a marble side table, go for it!  The stunning metamorphic specimen pictured above is emerald onyx from Gem International and would make an incredible fireplace surround–among other things…

Antique or Vintage Furniture

5 Splurges Worth of Your Tax Refund | Antique & Vintage Furniture | Motley Decor

Good design never goes out of style and good design that has ceased production, becomes rare.  Rarity breeds appreciation.  In other words, well-made antique and vintage furniture is likely to hold its value.  So, really, it’s more of an investment than a splurge.

Last week, design legend Vladamir Kagan passed away at the age of 88.  He is credited with introducing curves to contemporary design.  This is evident in his famous kidney-shaped sofas–as well as the Nautilus swivel chairs above.  (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

Handmade Bedding

5 Splurges Worthy of Your Tax Refund | Quilts/Handmade Bedding | Motley Decor

Growing up, my mom had a strong affinity for a style we now call “shabby chic”.  As a result, all of the bedding in our home was eventually switched out for antique, handmade quilts.  I distinctly remember lying in the top bunk, beneath my own quilt for the first time, marveling at the treasure with which I had been entrusted.  The fabric had developed an ivory patina and each stitch was slightly imperfect, alluding to its hand-sewn origins.  Even as a child, I found these qualities precious.  Since then, I’ve had a soft spot for quilts.

Sure, handmade quilts are expensive in comparison to their mass-produced counterparts or even comforters and duvets, but they can be storied pieces of art that impart a little luxury to your slumber.  In other words, they merit a bit of splurging.  And if your style is less-than-traditional, today’s quilters have you covered with an array of more modern designs.  The black and white chevron quilt above is by HanabiQuilts on Etsy.

New Flatware

5 Splurges Worthy of Your Tax Refund | New Flatware | Motley Decor

Flatware is to a tablescape as jewelry is to an outfit.  In both cases, it’s nice to have options.  Maybe you love your casual cutlery, but are craving a more formal set.  Perhaps you’ve jumped on the rose gold bandwagon and want your forks to follow suit.  It’s also possible that Jonathan Adler’s quirky-cool Keytlery flatware is haunting you the way it’s been haunting me.  Really, any excuse for wanting new utensils is totally justified.  (Jewelry for your dining table–right?)

Whatever your splurge of choice, I hope that Uncle Sam has put one of these purchases in reach for you this year.  Happy Tax Day!

An Update on Rebecca de Ravenel’s Apartment

A few weeks ago, I discussed by admiration for Rebecca de Ravenel’s Domino Magazine featured apartment on this blog.  At the time, I could only share pictures of magazine’s hard copy, which perhaps did not do this fantastic space justice.  However, I’m pleased to report that, since then, Domino has published this story online.  Here are a couple of highlights…

Decorgasm: Rebecca de Ravenel's Ravishing Apartment

This is the dining area I raved about with skirted tables, wicker furniture, colored glassware, and bohemian touches.  You may also be interested in the beachy, bohemian shopping post inspired by Rebecca de Ravenel’s Los Angeles dining room.

Update (More Pictures) on Rebecca de Ravenel's Los Angeles Apartment featured in Domino Magazine

And here’s a corner of de Ravenel’s bedroom (also from Domino), where her blue and white color scheme still reigns supreme.  Alluring textiles, natural fibers, and that same serene feeling echo the vibe of the rest o her apartment.  Presumably, her gallery wall is composed of the same meaningful heirlooms that can be found through out de Ravenel’s home.

Of course, these are just 2 of the gorgeous photographs that Domino has posted.  Be sure to check out the rest of them.

Now for the really good news: Domino was not the only site to feature Rebecca de Ravenel’s apartment.  Mark D. Sikes covered it as well.  Translation: even MORE pictures to enjoy!  Again, here are a couple of Motley Decor’s favorites…

Rebecca de Ravenel's Los Angeles apartment as seen on Domino & Mark D. Sikes

Here, de Ravenel poses with her beloved, papier-mâché giraffe head.  In the fireplace below is another feature that I absolutely love: an artful display of different types of coral.  File that under great ideas.

Rebecca de Ravenel's Apartment | Jewelry Display | Motley Decor

Even the way de Ravenel displays her jewelry is interesting in chic.

Explore the rest of Mr. Sikes’ photos for even more inspiration from Rebecca de Ravenel’s unique, lovely, and wonderfully curated home.

Happy Monday!

A Fortuny-Inspired Footstool

Fortuny fabrics are distinct, romantic, and have been celebrated by A-list interior designers since Elsie McNeill Lee, a New York based decorator, stumbled across them in 1927.  Today, they still impart a sense of luxury and good taste to any space they occupy.  Having long admired these unique textiles, I was moved to take a stab at creating my own Fortuny-inspired fabric and recover an old footstool scored on eBay.  Here’s how I did it…

Gathering Supplies

Fortuny-Inspired DIY Tutorial


A mottled, watery background is a hallmark of Fortuny’s.  In their factory, this effect is achieved by multiple printings with specialized dyes.  For a similar, but not-quite-as-exquisite substitute, I purchased a length of cotton, watercolor batik fabric (found in the quilting section of most fabric stores) in a rich, rust-meets-burnt-orange colorway that recalls the dusty jewel tones for which Fortuny is known.


Step 2 was to find a damask-like stencil.  For this, scale was important.  The footstool I was refinishing had a cushioned area of 12″x16″, so the stencil needed to be a bit smaller and allow for some repetition.  I found this nice 9″x9″ stencil on Etsy.


Finally, there was paint.   After some disappointing experiments with inexpensive fabric paints (which proved to be too thick and transparent), I went to an art supply store, explained my project, and gobbled up their advice.

DIY Fortuny Inspired Fabric Tutorial

The nice people at Blick advised me to choose any acrylic paint and combine it with a fabric painting medium.  However, they warned me that I might have to play around with the proportions so that the mixture did not become too runny and bleed beneath the stencil.  They also cleverly suggested that I apply the paint using a lint free rag rather than a stiff bristled brush.  This turned out to be solid advice.  Supplies in hand, I got to work.


The ideal mixture turned out looking something like this:

Fortuny-Inspired Fabric Tutorial | DIY | Motley Decor

I can best describe the consistency as that of maple syrup.  Test the paint mixture on a corner of your fabric.  It should apply flat and evenly without bleeding into the fabric fibers.

DIY Faux Fortuny Tutorial

Beyond getting these proportions right, the 2 other important things were to tape and measure.  I taped the fabric to the table to avoid movement and then taped the stencil to the fabric.

Fortuny-Inspired DIY Fabric Tutorial

Then, I just started carefully dabbing away.  Once I had finished, I’d let the paint dry, remove the tape and the stencil and used a small paint brush to fill in the blanks spots where the stencil was held together by thin bars.

DIY: Fortuny Inspired Fabric Tutorial | Motley Decor

Re-positioning the stencil for the next round, I always measured the distance from the previously painted area and the edge of the fabric.  I decided to keep the stencil facing the same way for vertical repetitions, but then staggered and turned it the opposite way horizontally.  I also stenciled an area just a few inches larger than the surface of the cushion.  This gave me so wiggle room when it came to upholstering.

DIY Fortuny-Inspired Footstool | Motley Decor


After all of the stenciled areas were dry, I was ready to upholster.  Planning ahead, I had already broken down my stool, repainted the base, cut new foam, and stapled it to the base using batting.

A Fortuny-Inspired Footstool Refurbishing

Next, I positioned the design in the center of the cushion and stapled it into place.  At this point, something occurred to me that hadn’t previously.  I decided that my new footstool could benefit from some kind of decorative cord trim.  So, I ventured out again and bought a couple of yards of gold braided trim with a lip.  I used a hot glue gun to glue the lip to the underside of the cushion.

DIY: Fortuny-Inspired Footstool Refurbishing

After the glue cured, the only thing left to do was to screw the cushion onto the base.  My end result looked something like this…

A Footstool Gets a Fortuny-Inspired Makeover

Fortuny-Inspired Footstool | DIY Tutorial | Motley Decor

If you need some additional Fortuny inspiration, check out these 7 eclectic rooms that showcase Fortuny textiles.



© 2018

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑