We’ll be heading to the India pied-à-terre soon — our apartment in Chennai, India — so I’m planning projects for the place and looking at photos from past trips for inspiration. I spotted this “funny face” and love its soft color palette:
Maybe this soft quiet wall stood out because it was a rarity among all the screaming bright colors. The drive was about 2 hours long (or more? I forget now) so I saw an unusual billboard nearby and made a mental note to watch for the billboard during the drive back. Because I needed a photo of this wall! We told the driver to STOPPPPP, stop-stop-stop — because saying stop one time doesn’t work so well — and I jumped out and greedily got this cute wall into my iPhone.
I share a few pictures of it here as inspiration for color combos, for old wall texture, for adding whimsy and fun in unexpected places!
I am not sure if the pink pipes are for plumbing or perhaps they hold electrical wires. But if they are functional, someone took the care to ensure they were worked into the design, not just slapped on the wall wherever. And I appreciate that, and details like that certainly caught my eye as we flew by.
Indigo blue is a top way to get the boho chic global look that’s so popular in fashion and home decor right now. Indigo dye has been used for centuries in Japan, India, Africa, Rome, everywhere, to color the world blue. And today, trend-setters in home decor are filling rooms with indigo blue:
If you want to try DIY indigo, here is a DIY Indigo Textile Dye Kit. Everything is put together for you, including gloves so you can try your hands at this without dying your hands!
The kit includes a sizeable 27″ x 27″ white cotton scarf, which you could use as a scarf. You can also make a pillow, tote bag or wall art with the fabric. Of course you can use the kit’s dye to color anything you wish, like wall art canvas, jeans, tea towels, placemats.
I like that the indigo dye is in a dripless applicator bottle. You don’t have to boil water and dissolve dye in a pot or vat. Just use the bottle! So easy.
The kit comes with a booklet that gives you instructions for tie-dye and shibori, resist dye techniques, painting and stamping. You could paint your indigo patterns with a brush, or use the dye as a stamp. All the materials and instructions are $30, a great deal.
To get your ideas going, here are some things created with this kit, shared at the #easyindigokit hashtag on Instagram by Christine Schmidt of the Yellow Owl Workshop, who developed the kit …
Beautiful blue patterned tea towels:
A bold shibori tie-dye pattern:
Couldn’t you see that on a pillow or tote bag?!
Pillows! Yeah, you can do this:
A little makeup/travel pouch. The “resist” areas, where there is no dye, were made by applying drops of gel school glue. When you apply indigo dye, the areas where you put the glue stay white. The kit’s booklet gives you instructions on how to do this:
And yes, I did try! I did a DIY dye project. I made an indigo pillow for my mom for Christmas, because my parent’s house has a lot of blue in it. I couldn’t share the project until after Christmas! That post is coming up next.
As a sneak preview, I played with the indigo dye, African tribal stencils and Annie Sloan clear wax as a resist.
Here’s the thing. Dye is not as controllable as paint. I learned I have some control issues. :) I tell you all about that in the next post, where I share how to make a DIY indigo pillow with this fabric dye kit!
Maybe it’s because I live near Chicago, and it’s the tail end of winter and after being surrounded by brown, gray and white it’s time for blues and greens and all the glorious flower colors of spring. Let’s go on a color trip around the world in search of these gorgeous fresh blues and greens …
In the Tangier home of architect Roberto Peregalli, featured in World of Interiors:
Another Moroccan scene, this time a riad belonging to Countess Marta Marzotto, featured in the Wall Street Journal:
I think I photographed this in one of my design magazines picked up in Thailand, maybe Elle Decoration. This is muted with some yellow and brown, in a bathroom in Bangkok:
If I remember right, it’s in a guesthouse in Bangkok so you could possibly lounge in this tub too!
Featured in Zsa Zsa Bellagio, English designer David Hare mixes Islamic textiles with antique furniture and aged paint finishes:
Actress Lupita Nyong’o lounges at El Fenn riad in Marrakech, where even bathrooms are colorful. Via Vogue:
The Vogue interview shares an interesting detail — that Lupita brought a Pinterest board of fashion ideas to a meeting with her stylist. In small ways, maybe the stars are like us.
In a moment of color serendipity, these two photos showed up next to each other on Pinterest:
Is Pinterest getting so super smart that it’s analyzing color in photos? And serving up the same colors in a photo we just repinned?
Seeing these, I was struck by something about color: they made me think about coral differently.
I’d always thought of coral as very Miami Vice-ish. Best left in the 80s. Like, bury that right along with Gordon Gekko, just as unsavory. But right now coral is trendy, and it’s even being teamed with teal again.
Throw in green mint or lime with the coral and teal, and all I can see is Beach Vacation Condo Decor … it’s fine to live with for a week while you’re going all island calypso with colorful drinks and sand between your toes. But not to live with every day for years, in your house. Maybe it’s because I live near Chicago and these are not Midwestern colors? It’s way too much Don Johnson.
I think the problem is all the bright clear colors. I feel compelled to sprinkle sea shells all over those clear colors.
The solution? Indigo
Dusty dusky indigo blue balances the brightness of coral and gives it some sophistication. The handmade nature of indigo and its origins from the hands of people in Southeast Asia, India, Africa … I think that’s the quality and “heart” that indigo brings. Slubby textures help too like these indigo pillows from One Kings Lane:
Whereas the bright coral/teal/lime combo feels like it’s manufactured in a plant off the side of a New Jersey highway:
That’s not a knock on New Jersey, I know great people from New Jersey, it’s a knock on mass manufacturing.
Even Don Johnson nowadays says “stick it” with the coral, go with the neutral:
I had to work that photo in some how!
So, let’s go from silly mood to sophisticated look …
How do you “work it” with coral and indigo?
It’s a fine line to tread. The key is look for blues without green in them. Blue + Green = Teal. And coral and teal is how you get transported to 1980s Miami. Instead, look for dusty faded blues without green, or darker navy blues. Vintage indigo pieces mixed with coral help tone down that manufactured color feel. A textured beige in the mix is more updated too. Here are some good blues to look for …
A vintage print of a marine botanical shows a good “non-green blue” from Etsy shop High Street Vintage: