There’s a question mark in the title because I think this will become a trend in the U.S., but I don’t think it’s a trend yet. It’s a trend when it rampages across the country into living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms everywhere. I think right now it is stepping onto the shores, testing the waters, seeing if it will be accepted.
What is it?
layers of global patterns in whites
Whites in different shades, lighter, darker, clean, dusty, all mixed together
Patterns inspired by India, Bali, Morocco, Spain and beyond, all mixed together
The origins of this look are shown in this image that I shared back in 2013, from Maisons du Monde:
I shared this image in a post called Scandinavian White Interiors with an Indian Twist. And this white layered patterns “potential trend” is exactly that — a mix of global style with Indian, Moroccan, Indonesian, Lamu style and more all in the same room.
The look is created with:
Carved white-washed wood
Round turned wood shapes
Embroidered and printed patterned textiles
Pierced metal lanterns
Woven patterns in lampshades, baskets, sisal rugs
For the tension that makes things interesting, mix elegant swirls and florals with thick rustic chunky shapes. White colors tie it all together.
Someone said to me that if you want to know what’s coming soon to the U.S., look at what’s popular in Australia. My Instagram has been full of white layered patterns from many Australian companies, especially in the Byron Bay area which is on the west coast of Australia, between Brisbane and Syndey.
Here’s a few Instagrammers to watch if you want to get schooled on this style …
Bisque Traders imports to Australia from around the world and while they’re introducing more color lately, the roots of their aesthetic is in rustic whites:
Alabaster Trader has the look, especially with their carved and mirrored white-washed wood consoles and damchiyas from India which you can order online at their shop:
The Ha’veli of Byron Bay is where you can see the look in action, warmed up with some darker browns:
They also have an online shop where you can get the look.
While the Grove at Byron Bay Instagram account is no longer active, it has an archive of photos that show this layered white pattern look, blended with boho macrame and woven reeds:
As shown here at The Grove in Byron Bay, you don’t have to have everything in every room be patterned. Here the background is white, the pots are white, even the rocks in the pots are white, and the glorious enormous mirror brings the patterns:
Seeing these images over the last few years definitely influenced my thinking for our apartment in Chennai, India. As I’ve written about here previously, I’m keeping the apartment mostly white-walled so it’s bright, calm and soothing. But what is India without the searing bright pinks, oranges and blues? I bought pillows and fabrics with those iconic Indian colors. But they didn’t feel like they delivered the soothing feeling that I want. I think those colors will wind up piled on a four-poster canopied daybed in the guest room. The rest of the place will look like this mock-up:
During my recent One Room Challenge room re-design, I felt like I chose unpopular colors, to be honest. I still chose them, because they are what I love and I want to live with. But I’m not choosing the cool grays, whites and ocean blues that people love so much. I like warmth on the wall, so I like beige. Not greige. Beige. But is beige uncool? There are many beiges. I have learned from Maria Killam’s color blog all about the very uncool “pink beige.” I now try to analyze undertones and avoid the pink-ish beiges. My house is full of pink beige from the previous owners and our own previous years’ decisions, though.
Anyway, it’s easy in today’s world of online sharing to second guess your color decisions, especially when you are a home decor blogger or Instagrammer. I recently saw a story about people painting their rooms white because white rooms perform well on Instagram. Well, I fill my rooms with beige and various warm orangey and paprika colors. One room has lots of red. Maybe it’s because I’m an Aries, a fire sign?
I checked into color trends for 2018, to see if I am really woefully off track with color tastes. Or, maybe I’ve been ahead of the curve?
Sherwin Williams gives some background behind inspiration for their color palettes, ranging from minimalism and hygge, to artisanal crafts and indigenous patterns, to California Pop and environmentalism.
Spice. I see many warm spice colors. Colors of cumin, tamarind, cayenne, curry, paprika.
Bohemian. 2018 trends include many of the boho chic colors that are on textiles from South America, Morocco and Asia – popular fabrics right now.
Warm white. The whites are warm. And yes we see beiges there!
Desert. There are desert colors, muted desert ochres and oranges, but I don’t foresee Southwestern style, I see global nomadic desert like the Sahara and the dusty desert cities of Rajasthan. Camel. Sand. Of course, call me very biased about the global nomadic idea, you might be right!
Jungalow. Many greens, from clear greens to muted greens. A whole garden of green. I see dirt colors and leaves. Is that the Jungalow style brought to us by Justina Blakeney?
Blues. Yes we still have the blues. Blues of one kind or another will always be around. In 2018, teal blues will be popular.
So, because of the prominence of spice and desert colors, my favorite paint color preferences — which really come from spice jars with some teal accent — might not be all that out of step right now!
Do you see your favorite colors in the 2018 forecast?
Wow. It’s unbelievable that I made it to today, to the reveal! I was “thisclose” to dropping out of the One Room Challenge when the original room I was working on — our basement — flooded. At first, I couldn’t see beyond that big basement space. My greedy craft supply-hoarding self wanted that space for a studio. But, if I wanted a studio at all, I needed to find a different room. So I pivoted halfway through the ORC and turned our guest room into a temporary creative studio. See links to the previous weeks’ drama here.
Let’s get right to the photos, because I know that’s why you’re here! I’ve filled the space with many things that creatively inspire me: patterns, textiles, travel mementos, favorite design books and magazines. I appreciate things from cultures and countries around the world, and this room’s style reflects that.
I painted this rug with stencils (all sources are provided at the end of the post) and I admit I had hesitations about the color. It’s mostly brown, with some streaks of color. But I wondered if I should be more colorful. When I was honest with myself and motivations for adding more color, it seemed like I wanted to do that for better photos, or because blue is popular and is great for social media and Pinterest pins. But, I know the effect I wanted to achieve in this room was a neutral background with lots of pattern. So I decided to stick with the plan.
I probably shouldn’t call this a “daybed” because it is a futon. There are a few ideas here that show how to dress up a futon. First, I draped a thick upholstery fabric over the futon. You can even sew a new futon cover from a really nice thick upholstery, but for now I just draped it over. Then smother it with pillows! Really smother it! I sewed these pillow covers with nice high quality down/feather inserts. It’s luxurious feeling. I’m finding my cats are nestling in these pillows every day, and I’m not getting any chance to sit on this. I had to keep the door closed before taking photos, to keep them off so this looks nice for photos.
This is where I can curl up with a coffee and flip through my favorite design books and magazines, and dream up ideas for future projects.
All walls in this room were this deep terra cotta color. While the color felt like a warm hug and made me dream of Mediterranean holidays, it was also very dark. It wasn’t a good color for studio walls. It was time for a change. So I painted nearly all the walls with a light “old wall” effect. But I couldn’t let this terra cotta color go completely!
Here is more detail in the antique print of Indian patterns, from 1873. Surprise, it even includes the deep terra cotta color that I adore.
The textiles draped over the ladder are a mix of Japanese kimono fabrics, a silk jacquard from India, and silk Bursa from Turkey. This is my space to inspire new creativity, and few things inspire me more than a mix of fabrics from around the world.
I was really into graphic design and fonts early in my career, back in the ’90s. I saved this direct mail piece, and after all this time, this is nearly bonafide vintage:
Can you believe these succulents are not real? It’s true. I found them at Jo-Ann. They carry several different types of faux succulents and these were the most realistic. They have a dusty fuzz where nature would put it. They have little bits underneath like where old leaves fell off or got cut off. Textured stems. All the real details.
One more shot here, because I love combos of texture + pattern. The pattern in the ceramic planter, plus the Kuba cloth peeking out, these inspire me to think outside the box and mix things together.
Before I reveal the craft space, a few words about the portable tables and chairs. I know they will never be on a top 10 decorating list, but they suit some needs, so please don’t judge! I tried to make them blend in visually by painting them all the same color. The tables were a deep forest green! I already owned the tables and chairs, and one of my goals with this makeover was to use things that were sitting un-used around the house. The tables and chairs were the perfect solution for two important functional needs of this room:
Portability. They can easily be folded up and moved to storage when we have guests or when I want room to work on the floor. My heart would love a rustic wood table with lots of character, but that would be heavier and much more difficult to break down and move when needed.
Flexibility. I have four folding tables. There are only two tables in the room now for photography purposes. But two, three or four tables can work in many configurations in this room, depending on what I’m doing and whether I need to accommodate family or friends working in here too. I can make a big block of tables. I can make rows. I can make a big U-shape. I can pull the tables close to the daybed and sit there. I value the flexibility.
The table looks a little messy, but I styled it like “real life” as if I were working here.
To describe where this is in the room, the daybed I shared above is immediately to the right. I can sit on the comfy daybed and work at these tables. And as you see in a peek here, my fabulous teal blue Indian-Moroccan closet nook is to the left.
I have loaded this little table space and the wall above with patterns and textures that are inspiring to me.
My blog is called Nomadic Decorator because I surround myself with things found during travels, like these old riad keys I found deep in the souks in the Marrakech medina:
These are pretty embellished cards I found during a trip to India:
Things on my moodboard:
Miniature Indian paintings found during a trip to India:
I am currently painting papers with acrylics so they look like old walls, as background papers for collage and layering. I am obsessed with ochres and sienna colors, and pinks and salmons of cities like Marrakech and Jaipur. And I am obsessed with niches, arches, doors. And jali — the decorative patterned screens you will see on windows in Northern India, and North African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. The screens cooled the rooms, but they also screened women from being seen. I am playing with all of these things right now, and concepts about women, communication, reaching for and being withheld from our dreams and overcoming that. Ahhh but those are stories for another day! I am working them out through paper and paint.
I am loving the painters drop cloth that I used to cover the tables. It makes a nice neutral surface. When the cloth gets too messed up with paints, glues, coffee and red wine stains, etc., I can pop out the tabletop and re-cover it with fresh drop cloth.
The folding chairs are vintage Samsonite. I remember growing up with them in the 70s — we sat on these chairs for the “kid’s table” at Christmas! The price tags were still on them. One was $8 and the other was $9. I gave them a coat of paint, and re-covered the cushions with silk. I already had this silk. I had stenciled it to make Fortuny-style pillows, then after awhile the zipper broke. So I cut the pillow apart and re-used the silk for chair cushions.
Here you can see the sometimes crazy mix of patterns in this room. This is why I used neutral colors. I think you can get away with more patterns when the colors are similar. The patterns inspire my eye, but the neutral background doesn’t distract me while I’m making new creative things. It’s a good balance.
Though, there’s always an exception, isn’t there? Like this next spot, which I installed in this room in 2014. I can see it out of the corner of my eye while I’m working at the table, and it’s just enough color to get me daydreaming about new ideas …
I posted tutorials online previously, showing how to paint a front of a nook like this, and how to stencil on fabrics. Those tutorials are linked in the source list below.
This shows you the crazy pattern mix here! It is very much like Morocco and India and their exuberant mixes of patterns and color.
That little stool is a stepstool. Because the cushion is up pretty high, and I needed a little boost to get up onto the cushion easily.
Oops. Now that I’m typing right here, I see my toes got in that picture! All these patterns were painted very easily with stencils. So you can do this too! I’ve shared links in the source list below to the stencils, or to tutorial posts with project supply lists.
The curtain is a sari. I was surfing on Etsy one day and noticed this sari had a lot of the colors in the nook. I thought the hard edges of the closet door frame needed softening, and the sari helps do that. The sari is hanging from a rod and it can be pulled over to nearly close off the whole nook, or it can be draped and tied back with tassels.
Sharp-eyed folks will notice that this lantern is not in the photos above:
Our electrician didn’t have an available appointment until today, the day of the ORC reveals! And this post was already live by the time he got here. This nook is finally complete now that the walls are patterned too, with an iconic Moroccan souvenir. I found this lantern in Marrakech. And if you are lucky enough to go to Morocco, get a lantern like this — bring it back in your luggage. A slimmer oval or lozenge-shaped lantern like this fits in a suitcase, no problem.
I did many DIY projects in this room. I will share tutorials here in future weeks, like how to:
Mix lots of patterns together
Stencil a rug AND paint it with a broom!
Choose a lampshade for stenciling and stencil it
Make little stands for displaying collectibles
Paint big round trays with tribal medallions
Make a sari ceiling canopy over a bed
Rejuvenate old folding chairs with paint and new seat cushions
Dress up plain ol’ folding tables with paint and painters drop cloths, great for crafts and painting
I said in Week 1 that I was working on a tight budget and would be transparent about costs. My project ideas changed a lot, because I had to change rooms. I wound up not doing ideas like a faux brick wall.
Despite everything in this room, I bought very little. I already owned nearly everything. I even used paints that I already owned. The only things I bought specifically for this makeover were:
An ivory pillow on the daybed
Carved wooden storage and basket on the craft table
Hooks for sari curtain
Museum quality glass for frames
Mats for frames
Dowels for printing block stands
Quart of BJ Maritime White that I wound up not even needing
Seriously I think that is it. I spent about $200. The glass was the most expensive thing!
I still remember where I got most things, even though most were purchased years ago. Here is a source list …
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of compensation at no cost to you if you purchase after clicking the link. I post affiliate links when I have purchased from the company or used the product, and I can confidently share the company or product. For more info, see my Disclosures & Policies.
My sources are an eclectic bunch! Some things new, some things old, some things gifted, something stolen (does it count as stolen when you just didn’t give it back to your parents?). Things found everywhere, from easy one-click Amazon Prime to digging deep in the Marrakech souks and Indian sari shops.
Clockwise around the room starting with the Indian-Moroccan closet nook:
Indian-Moroccan Closet Nook
Step stool: forgot the source of the stool; painted with Benjamin Moore paints; stenciled with Zahara Moroccan Stencil from Royal Design Studio
Nook bench front: DIY’d by me (tutorial post with stencil and supply list)
Cushion: stenciled silk, DIY’d by me (tutorial post with stencil and supply list)
Teal pillows: Beaded stenciled bolster pillow DIY’d (tutorial post); Turkish Bursa silk pillow found in Bangalore, India; teal silk pillow: Good Earth in Chennai, India; pillow found in Marrakech; velvet pillow World Market; silk bolster DIY’d
Fabrics on ladder: Turkish Bursa silk purchased from a now-closed store in Bangalore, India; Japanese kimono and obi fabrics found on eBay; silk jacquard purchased from a now-closed store in Austin, TX
Glass Hundi lanterns: inventory from a catalog business we had in the ‘90s
And that is all! I will share DIY tutorials in future posts, so join my email list if you want notice of those posts. Meanwhile, enjoy all the other room reveals for the Fall 2017 One Room Challenge! You can visit 20 featured designers and the nearly 200 guest participants and get inspiring ideas for your own home! And a huge thank you to Linda of Calling It Home blog for hosting the ORC for us, and House Beautiful magazine as media sponsor. I thank you, and my husband thanks you too, because my DIY messes should now be contained in this studio instead of all over the house!
The ORC gave us a community of supportive people, and maybe just as important, a deadline to get things done. The result? Dreams come true for people. Homes become more beautiful. Rooms work better for people and their families, and pets too. Better places for better lives. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Now, I’m off to create some “old wall” painted papers in this creative studio that I’ve wanted for so long, and now it’s finally come to be … happy happy dance …
Wow, the One Room Challenge has really been a journey! Originally I wanted to makeover our basement into a light, bright, creative studio for blog DIYs, a creative business, who knows the future when you have a big inspiring room to play in, right? But in Week 3, the basement flooded. In Week 4, it flooded again. The basement is beyond any makeover now. Only a total tear-out can help it. So in Week 4 I moved the ORC party to a guest room two stories higher — there’s no flooding 12 feet above the ground and far from plumbing pipes!
So after switching rooms halfway through this challenge, I am sooooooo thankful we have an extra seventh week now. This has been a lesson in handling unexpected events, and thinking fast and flexibly.
I’m not spending much money on this makeover because 1.) I was not planning to re-do the guest room, and 2.) I already own much of what I need, and whenever our basement is renovated, I want to move the studio down there per the original plans. What’s a great way to get big visual change on a lower budget? Paint!
As shared last week, the guest room had dark terra cotta color walls, painted with a mottled effect to look old. I left one wall in the original terra cotta color, and painted the other walls with a similar texture to look old. I followed the steps that I shared in a previous tutorial — How to paint new walls to look old — with one big difference. Instead of using a sea sponge, this time I used a Woolie, shown here:
(Hmmmm. Sorry it’s so dark — I will re-shoot this with better light.)
The closet nook walls shown in my previous tutorial have a “small splotchy” look that I still want to fix. I think it’s hard to avoid that when using a sea sponge, even though I shared tips in that post to avoid small splotches. They still happened to my wall. The Woolie has a broad base and you can twist and turn it, pounce it, swipe it, do all sorts of big wide moves with it to make “splotchy swaths” — like big splotches instead of little ones. Here’s part of a wall I did this week. It has bigger swooping swaths of varying colors:
One recommendation in my “old wall” painting tutorial that I followed again, and it worked well again, was the advice for choosing paint colors. I recommend using two to three similar colors. Three is much better. You will get more depth on the wall. Then choose an accent color, usually a natural color like a beige or gray.
For the room I show you today, I did the opposite with wall color vs. accent color choices. Because the wall color is beige, my accent color is terra cotta.
Paint Colors for Natural Old Wall Look
Here are the three colors that I used to make the old wall look shown above:
Then the accent color, where small areas of the color peeks through the three above colors. The walls were previously painted mostly with Benjamin Moore Audubon Russett (HC-51) and Georgian Brick (HC-50). I left small subtle patches of this terra cotta color peeking through the beige and white layers.
The ceiling is a light gray. When the walls were terra cotta, the gray wasn’t so obvious. But now that the walls are turning beige, this is emphasizing the gray in the ceiling.
I’m not loving that. I don’t feel like repainting the ceiling. But after finishing the walls, I think I really need to paint the ceiling. There are so many other colors in the room — a teal nook in the closet, a terra cotta accent wall. Gray on the ceiling adds yet another color. I will likely paint over the gray with Benjamin Moore Maritime White, so I’m pulling a color from the wall up onto the ceiling. Also, the white color will be lighter and help bounce light around more, which I like.
How Much Paint to Get
Now, I just suggested buying numerous paint colors. But that doesn’t mean that this is going to cost a lot. As you’ll see below, you are not applying full even coats of paint. So you will use less paint. I used a surprisingly little amount of paint, far less than I expected.
As a benchmark, here is what I used for “two and a half” walls in a room that’s about 10 x 10 feet, with walls that are 8 feet high. I say “two and a half” walls because I left one wall alone with its previous color, and there is a closet and door on another wall, plus two smaller windows. So I painted about 200 square feet. I used:
A sample pint can of Simply White and about 3″ of a gallon can of Simply White
A quart of Bungalow Beige
A pint sample of Maritime White
Yeah, that’s it! I even bought a quart of Maritime White, thinking for sure I’d run out of a pint. I didn’t. As you’ll see below, you are applying light layers and leaving lots of holes showing the layers below, so you will use a lot less paint. Also, rollers suck up a lot of paint. I would have used a lot less Simply White if I had sponged that on the wall instead of rolled it.
Painting an Old Wall Look
Here’s how it went down. Or, how the paint went on!
The first layer, Benjamin Moore Simply White, was painted terribly! On purpose. I loaded a roller and haphazardly rolled the paint in different directions on the walls. It looked awful, really awful!
But don’t worry. This is how it’s supposed to look. The purpose of this layer of paint was to cover most of the terra cotta color, and to not leave a perfect finish. Old walls are imperfect, right?
After painting for years, I trust the process and know it will turn out okay. Though this week wasn’t without its worrisome moments. As you’ll see in a minute.
The second layer, Sherwin Williams Bungalow Beige, was applied to the walls with the Woolie. I pounced the Woolie on the wall, swished it, swooped it, twisted it, turned it. Anything to make a random effect. You don’t want to see any repetitive patterns. I was aiming for a natural weathering look on the walls. So to achieve this, you want to make wider swaths with the Woolie. Leave areas of the colors below peeking through.
Here’s how it looked after this second layer:
I was painting this Bungalow Beige layer late at night. The next morning I took a look at the room. My heart sank. It felt so … blaahhhhhhhhhhhh. Like it was a FEELING. A feeling of sadness. Hopelessness. Loneliness. This is how the room FELT! It FELT like a single lonely piece of plain beige paper, all wadded up and discarded in the middle of a room with beige floors, beige walls, beige ceiling. Just so much beige-ness.
Oh my. What did I do?
I had a moment of uncertainty. But just a moment. This is to be expected!! I just erased a rich deep color and replaced it with, yeah, blahhhhh.
One solution is to TRUST. Trust the process, and keep going. To avoid this blah-ness, a third layer of paint is necessary. The third layer adds more dimension.
When I put swatches on the wall a few weeks ago, some colors looked flat, but the Benjamin Moore Maritime White was really singing in this particular room and in its light, during both day and night. Like I was really loving it. So I saved it for the last paint layer, the most obvious paint layer.
The third layer, Benjamin Moore Maritime White, was also applied with the Woolie, just like the second layer. I paid attention to how much of the first and second layers I wanted to peek through. And also, I was careful about how much of the original terra cotta to leave peeking through.
I felt MUCH better after adding the Maritime White onto the walls! Instead of wondering if I’d made a big boring mistake, the walls are coming more alive, and sophisticated, with the addition of this third layer.
The accent color, Benjamin Moore Audubon Russett, in the end wound up being far more subtle than the original plan. I originally left larger “rivers” and random spots of the terra cotta color:
But, the next day, as I looked around the room, my eye kept getting caught on those terra cotta blotches. And I realized, I don’t think that’s what I want to be looking at. It’s too much. Plus, I was envisioning the final result, all the other things that will be coming into the room — the textiles, the patterns, the textures. This gives you an idea of the things that will be in the room:
The big terra cotta rivers and blotches on the wall will compete too much with these things. The other factor is, this room is smaller, about 10 x 10 feet. If it was a huge room, maybe the walls could have handled more “stuff” happening on them. In this room, I decided it was “trying too hard.”
So I painted over much of the terra cotta. I left subtle areas that you can see in person. But they don’t photograph well, so it’s hard to see online. I should note, what you see in the next photo is not the final wall — this is after the second layer of paint. The third layer evened the splotches out on this wall a lot more:
After getting through these steps, I am starting to feel excited about the walls and how they’ll “play” with the other things coming into the room!
Speaking of the Other Things …
I started painting other pieces too. I’ll share more in future weeks. For now, here’s a peek at a little Moroccan table that will be a step stool to get up into the Moroccan-Indian closet nook:
And I started painting trays that will be stenciled to look like baskets from Africa, like the one shown here with the trays:
I started painting over a bowl that no longer fits my style. It will be painted with varying colors of Chalk Paint, then dry-brushed with metallic copper to catch on the raised edges of the flower pattern:
There is still a LOT to do … I’ll stop now and get back to work!
But first, visit the other bloggers who are doing the One Room Challenge. There are 20 featured designers and about 200 guest participants who are making over rooms. As the end gets closer, I’m seeing color concepts come together, accessories meeting furniture, walls and floors transformed, and innovative DIYs. Go see what they’re doing!