Front Doors

First things first. We looked at front doors today for the Chennai flat. The what? The flat? This is already feeling contrived to keep writing pied a terre! But “flat” just … falls flat. That word doesn’t live up to my expectations for this place. So the pied a terre fantasy returns.

Our glorious vision of a place must have a very special door. It’s the first indication of what’s to follow. A few years ago when we visited Tuscany and Umbria, I photographed a series of doors, so entranced by imagination of what lay beyond them. They were all very tall, immense. Some felt rustic, others medieval. Some beautiful and others severe. Some were welcoming and surrounded with flowers. A few were foreboding, bidding you to back away. Clearly they all had personalities.

Whatever door we ultimately choose, our India pied a terre’s door must not be one that’s from the India equivalent of Home Depot.

Here are doors I find beautiful, from around the internet. I try best to pay credit where credit is due to the people or businesses that shared these online for our viewing pleasure.

Jodhpur doors found on

From Also known as “Doors, Darling! a blog about doors, knobs, locks and hinges.” Now it takes discipline to focus on that, but I’m glad someone does because they photographed this glorious door in Bikaner in Rajasthan:

From eBay seller MogulGallery in Florida. Yes you can find these doors on eBay and make them part of your pied a terre, anywhere:

Found on, new metal-covered embossed doors:

Bronze Jaipur door photo shared by travel blogger Thomasgillam:

Someone owns this door from Tamil Nadu now. It’s satinwood and teak, over 100 years old, and was sold on This makes me envision deep red wall in the stairwell meeting a deep honey-color carved door:

Blue n’ bells from world traveler Karthik Raja Photography:

This is actually artwork depicting a door on, the Madras Craft Foundation. This place is just south of Chennai. I must visit next time I am there. This is from a DakshinaChitra August 2009 painting exhibition:

I don’t know the original source of this one, but there are Lakshmi coins embedded in this door! Lakshmi is my favorite goddess. This door is visually stunning:

As you’ve seen, doors can be created from an enormous variety of materials, styles and colors to express what you want to those who visit.

Here is the antique door my husband found during his trip to choose materials for the place. His sister Shanthi was helping with the shopping and poses with it:

Here is close-up of the detail at the top:

Here is the back side, the door view we’ll see from inside the house:

It’s 5’6″ tall, low like older doors are, so anyone taller than that will need to duck while walking in. It gives no indication that on the inside, 10-foot ceilings await. It will go through about a month of detailed restoration before it’s installed. The shop will send pictures of the restoration progress, and we’ll share here.

Framed Scarves

Scarves wrap up so much in such light packages. Sumptuous silk, rich color, intricate design, meaningful symbolism. They can pack a powerful visual punch. So why keep scarves in the dark of a closet, or tied on you, where you can only see bits of what they have to offer? Why not frame them and hang them and enjoy them every day?

I originally purchased this Talbots scarf with the intent of hanging it in our U.S. living room. It has the right colors and it depicts things I love: travel, navigation, maps.

I wore this scarf for a few years, then finally mounted it on canvas as shown here.

Does anyone else have this crazy notion to frame scarves? Well, yes! Many do. Here are some ideas:

photo from Domino

photo from Martha Stewart

Here’s a scarf framed under glass on a table:

photo from HGTV

From the Right Bank shows pictures of beautiful framed Hermes scarves. Hermes scarves aren’t just pretty — for many decades they have captured imagery and paid tribute to places and cultures worldwide.

Now don’t you think an Indian pied a terre should have a classic French Hermes scarf with India scenes?

My favorite Hermes scarf and story is from a few years ago. It’s a Tibetan scene:

It pays homage to Alexandra David-Neel who lived from 1868-1969. She was a French-Belgian explorer. In this scene, she and her traveling partner are heading towards Lhasa, the forbidden capital of Tibet. She became famous around the globe when she reached Lhasa in 1924. For now I dream of the adventure of this scarf, as I do not own any Hermes scarves. This is free inspiration here!

These colors feel too strong for our Chicago home. But they are perfect colors for an India pied a terre. They look tiny here, but these scarves fill a lot of wall space. They’re about one square yard or one square meter.

While you can get pre-owned Hermes scarves on eBay, I’m a fan of “getting the look for less.” Just look for inexpensive square scarves with:

  • Travel or cultural themes
  • Lots of detail
  • Bold shapes you can see from a distance
  • Bold color

Frame them, and hang them!

Chicago / Chennai

I just spent all weekend in Chicago thinking about Chennai.

Why? My husband is in Chennai to finish a newly-built flat there. This blog is a chronicle of the progress and a collection of design ideas.