I will be honest, I get a bit frazzled in India. The action, heat, horns, lights, everything can be energizing, and it is also over-stimulating to me and wears me down after awhile. Because, it’s the flip opposite of the very quiet acre of land full of only nature and trees we’re used to living on outside of Chicago. So after a long day out and about in the middle of things in Chennai, the India pied-a-terre is an escape.
This might be why the India pied-a-terre is not full of the energizing colors you would expect me to use there, like hot pink!
It’s full of light and white. With actually, black as an accent color. I’m not sure what people think of using black as an accent color in India, but I like the edge it brings to a room. And, I use deep paprika orange and copper metallics. It’s hard to stay disciplined and stick only with these, so there are some touches of blue and one room does have hot pink paint stencils on a wall. But I keep the “hot” to a minimum!
Just inside the main door, we need a place to set keys, handbag, hat, wallet, shopping bags, phones, pieces of paper, etc.
Right now, all this stuff winds up carried further into the apartment, and it all gets piled up on the dining table of all places. When we want to eat, we have to clear all this stuff off. It’s like squeezing a toothpaste tube, though. All the stuff winds up thrown in a hurry on the sectional in the living room, then. It doesn’t belong there either! Living minimally leaves you with few surfaces for stuff. So, you have to be even more conscious of how you live, and what you need, and what annoys you, so the few things you do choose serve a good purpose for you.
We need a horizontal surface just inside the main door!
But not just ANY surface.
Here’s my “moodboard” for the space inside the main door:
I would love a white washed damchiya to go with this look. There’s a space to the right of the door where a damchiya could fit perfectly.
Though this is a white-on-white theme, it is not boring. The wood brings warmth. The pattern is visually interesting. I know the tribal look would contrast nicely with the more simple modern things in the room.
Here is one from Mugal Gallery that has shisha mirrors embedded on it.
You’ll notice in my inspiration moodboard above, there are pillows with shisha from John Robshaw in it.
I know people are excited about IKEA coming to India. There are a few things from IKEA USA in the apartment – things we could fit in our suitcases. But I don’t anticipate buying IKEA furniture for the apartment. I’d rather we find things with history and a story to tell, that we take care of for awhile before passing them on to others who will care just as much.
Sometimes your style changes. Sometimes you get new ideas. Sometimes you think, I wish that looked different.
Sometimes this happens to me … with things I painted!
I painted this table with Moroccan patterns years ago and it was loved.
Hard to see in the photo, but the white lines were shimmery pearlescent. With pink, blue and green veins like mother of pearl inlay. If you want to learn how to paint that, visit my tutorial at Paint + Pattern.
We lived with this look for about four years. Then one summer evening, while blasting Queen music probably a little too loud for the neighbors’ liking, I did a “messy metallic” look on candlesticks. I mixed golds, bronzes, coppers, silvers, and made them look burnished and old. This was originally a white farmhouse style candlestick:
I loved this look. This might not be everyone’s favorite look, but it’s right up my design alley. I wanted to do messy metallics on MORE and BIGGER.
That’s when I got the idea.
I could see the Moroccan table with raised patterns, and messy metallic. I wanted it to look like a bronze table cast with lost wax technique in a sandpit somewhere deep in the Sahara Desert. Maybe the table was made many decades ago, and since then the table sat in a flood for awhile, so patina is darker on the bottom. Or maybe it sat too close to a road, and grease gradually built up on the bottom of it. Dust settled in the crevices between the raised patterns. Edges of the patterns got brighter as hands brushed them and books, tea cups and dishes were dragged over them.
Maybe you’d call that a wild imagination. Or a hallucination! But when painting, I’m going for an idea, a feeling, a memory of a place. I wanted this table to travel further back in time and through rough stuff in its life.
Before showing the paint steps, I want to say first … about the roadside grease … no we wouldn’t really want grease on our furniture. Right? We wouldn’t really want mold on a table in our living room. We might not want horribly chipping paint all over the outside walls of our house.
So, isn’t it funny that so many of us — me included — take pictures in front of things like this when we’re on vacation? Like chippy walls with dirt, grease, and frankly, likely mold, is worthy of photos. We call it patina. “Aged to perfection.”
But when the “dirt” or “grease” is just paint, it’s fine in the house.
STEPS TO DO THIS
After that way-too-long intro (but I’m not cutting it down), here are a few tips to get this look …
I used the same stencil as the first time the table was painted — Starry Moroccan Night from Royal Design Studio. I did not want to buy new supplies, so I used what I already owned to make raised patterns. I used a Golden molding paste on the top. That ran out. So on the sides, I used Modern Masters Venetian plaster. After the paste & plaster dried, a light sanding knocked off sharp peaks and sharp lines. I left many imperfections, pocks and pits because I want the table to look old and a bit battered. I want some color to settle into the pits.
I added a “sort of floral” pattern along the edges. That pattern I believe was from stock photography like iStockphoto or ShutterStock, and I cut it with a Cricut Explore.
Gather a bunch of metallics. Lots! I used mostly acrylics: coppers, bronzes, silver, golds from bright gold to old gold, even a shimmery metallic black. And yeah, I used several coppers, several bronzes. This builds up a depth of color and variety.
I couldn’t even tell you what metallic I did first, second, third, fourth etc. because I didn’t document and photograph every step. I needed to get into a creative flow with this. Stopping to document really interrupts that. In general, I used gold and silver in the middle, and darker metallics like the bronzes and black on the edges. I used more bronze and black along the bottoms and feathered it out about 1/3 to halfway up.
Spray Watered Down Paint & Spread It
I wanted “dust” in the crevices between the raised patterns. This was a two-step process. For “dust” to show up, it’s better if it’s on a darker background. So first you paint a dark background, then you do the dust over it.
First, fill a spray bottle with water and black paint. The ratio should be 20% paint, 80% water. Maybe even 10% paint, 90% water. Lots of water so the paint is runny. This is MESSY. Protect the surface under your project. I had a dropcloth on the floor but some black paint splashed on white walls nearby!
I sprayed the watery paint lightly over the top of the table, then immediately — before it dried — smooshed it into the crevices with a tile grout spreader. To do this, you simply drag the grout spreader over the surface so you’re pushing the watery paint off the raised patterns, so the color flows between the patterns. The tile grout spreader behaves sort of like a trowel but it has a gentler, rubbery edge.
Here’s a video showing how to smoooooosh watery paint between the raised stencils:
Extra water WILL run off your project. You might get drips. Some people like drips, some don’t. Have paper towel on hand to dab watery paint where you don’t want it. Let the surface dry.
Now. You might notice my table has six sides. When you do this watery paint spray, you have to spray it on a horizontal surface. So … I had seven surfaces, and all had to dry before I could roll the table over and do the next side! It took forever.
But wait, there’s more. Next we add the “dust” over the dark areas in the crevices.
Dust is not shiny, so I used matte chalk and clay paints, like a neutral DIY Paint or Dixie Belle paint. I washed the black paint out of the spray bottle, then made another watery paint with about 10-20% clay/chalk paint with 80-90% water.
I followed the same steps as above. Spray the watery paint on a flat horizontal surface. Smoooooshhhhh the watery paint into the crevices with the tile grout spreader.
And yeah, I had to do this with all seven surfaces, letting them all dry before flipping the table over.
When the paint dries, you should see what looks like “dust” in the cracks between the patterns.
If the raised patterns have pits and holes in them, the black paint and the chalky paint will settle into those pits and make cool old-looking patina.
This admittedly looks terrible. When working with lots of paint layers, it looks worse before it gets better!
Dry brushing toned down the black streaks:
Dry brushing a great for depth and variety of color. After I applied a base of bright gold in the middles and bronzes on the edges, most of the painting was dry brushing one color after another after another after another. Until I got the look I wanted.
There was some re-doing and re-painting with dry brushing.
Sometimes the table got too light — I dry brushed too much silver.
Sometimes it got too red — I dry brushed too much copper.
Sometimes the gold got too muddy — I dry brushed too much black on the gold.
None of this is a problem. It’s part of the process and everything can be painted over. The nice thing about dry brushing is you can do many layers, and the paint doesn’t get too thick because you’re applying barely-there feathers of paint. When color was going in the wrong direction, I corrected it by dry brushing another color. I was aiming for a color in my head, and I knew if it was on track or if it was off.
I’ll be honest, I was getting really tired of this table at the end.
Even when it was done, it sat in the sunroom for a few days before I brought it in to photograph it. I was THAT tired of painting it!
The work was worth it though. It is exactly the Moroccan table picture that popped in my mind. It looks good between red chairs.
I have not sealed it with any wax or topcoat. I worry about changing the sheen of the metallics and/or the “dust.” I worked so hard to get it the way I wanted it, I would kick myself if i put a topcoat on it and the color or sheen changed! Most of the paint is acrylic and the table is not heavily used, so I’m not worried about wear ‘n tear.
So if you’ve been looking at something that you wish was different — even if it’s something you painted — it’s only paint. You can always re-paint. Try it, have fun, play with giving it a different look!
I’m seeing painted jeans everywhere! And not just because I hang out around people who paint. I’ve seen painted jeans in our local Sundance store on Johnny Was jeans. And believe me, the paint was no accident!
You can buy jeans already painted, or you can do your own design freehand with finger painting or brushes, or even stencils.
Gray print on white jeans – this could easily be stenciled:
Faded denim jeans with white flowers (affiliate link) – again, this could so easily be stenciled with white paint. Just arrange flower stencils in random directions like they’re falling down the jeans:
Also please do not think this is only for models of this age or with these bodies. We should all live fun and free and do whatever we want with our jeans!
Maybe the jean style matters though? I did notice while scrolling all the jeans at Free People, that they’re mostly doing this design on the flared jeans, and not the straight leg, boyfriend, cropped, or skinny jeans. I don’t know, maybe they’re typecasting the flared jeans as bohemian? Maybe paint wouldn’t look so good on straight leg jeans? What do you think?
I’m about to go raid my closet for jeans and pull out the paint and stencils …
Sometimes I see an idea and it sticks and I have to do it.
I’ve followed Bisque on Instagram for years. They are in Byron Bay, Australia and they sell things mostly from India but also Africa and Indonesia with a distinctive look: many layers of natural textures in neutrals. Textures from carvings, weavings, nature’s etchings. They live with this look, they wear this look, they design the look for others.
Years ago I spotted a row of white painted jharokha in their pictures:
I intended to buy a collection of jharokha and hang them on a wall, copying the Bisque look with a little bit of shame. So far I only did one! I found the jharokha on Pepperfry.com and in the comfort of our home by Chicago, paid for it in rupees and had it shipped to the Chennai apartment. Gotta love online shopping. There it sat for maybe a year until my last trip to India.
It was dark brown. And you can see it was in rough shape.
Now, you gotta remember you can’t just go to Home Depot for last-minute supplies in India. So I usually pack things like wood glue and wood filler in our suitcase. You know, along with the toothpaste and antiperspirant! Normal traveling stuff. I appreciate having Amazon.in available, but it doesn’t sell everything in India.
The bottom shelf of this jharokha was loose so the wood glue came in handy. However, the wood filler was dried up.
What to do?
Well. I remembered back to my early adult apartment rental days. The time I moved out and had a bunch of holes in the wall from hanging stuff. I wanted my security deposit back. So you know what you do. Yep. Toothpaste. So, I filled all the gaps in the jharokha with toothpaste! It worked!
Then I painted it with neutral clay and chalk paints.
I first painted it with a darker neutral — Old Ochre from Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan. Then, I added a lighter layer of Vintage Linen from DIY Paint.
I applied the DIY Paint lightly with a damp paper towel so the darker color below still showed through without brush marks. A fabric cloth or a baby wipe would have held up better, but the paper towel was all I had handy.
Here you see on the right side how Vintage Linen lightened it up. I wanted it to look like dust in the crevices of white wood. But, not dust for real.
It’s still in rough rustic shape. I did not have sandpaper. Add it to the list of stuff to take on the next trip.
It will eventually be hung somewhere within view of this area, to give you an idea of how it fits in.
Time to find a few more jharokha to paint on the next trip! I’m glad I photographed the paint cans, so I remember what colors to pack next time.