World-inspired home accents can be shipped to your door

Editor's note: Christine Brun is taking some time off. This column originally published in 2016.

It doesn't take very much to add an artistic touch to a tiny home. Two or three accent items will go a long way toward establishing any creative look. And, when you tire of one look, it is comforting to know you can mix it up just by removing and replacing a few pieces.

The internet certainly makes gathering accent items a simple task. You can search hundreds of online stores for art, textiles and accent furniture pieces, and have items delivered right to your doorstep. It's such an easy process that any look is achievable.

Long ago, at the turn of the last century, interior designers had to travel to exotic locales to look at unique items. They would voyage to Asia or Europe to shop (for themselves or clients), and then ship their treasures home. Of course, we, today, miss the experiential aspect of obtaining such authentic cultural items, but the online market makes these items affordable and accessible for many more people.

Pillows are the much-maligned decorative piece of the design trade. We've all heard jokes about how interior designers adore throw pillows: When in doubt, they'll throw heaps of them on a sofa or a bed. Husbands hate them; housekeepers are forever confused about where to put them. Nevertheless, accent pillows really are a practical and easy way to create a mood.

Imports from Morocco, for instance, have interesting patterns and textures and vibrant colors.

Often, I will create an entire color scheme based off a specific furniture piece. You might buy a colorful Moroccan pillow, for example, and then stick to a neutral-colored linen love seat and side chair, while upholstering the main seating items in a deep blue or a rich rust tone.

Aside from pillows, beautiful textile designs can be found in different regions the world.

From Latin America, we have the mola design. The mola is part of the traditional outfit of the women of the indigenous Kuna people. It refers to the two fabric panels sewn on the front and back of the Kuna blouse.

Molas are handcrafted using the reverse applique technique to sew several layers of different-colored cotton cloth together. The design is formed by cutting away parts of each layer, and then turning and sewing down the edges. The stitches are often nearly invisible. The finest molas are made using tiny needles, and have extremely fine stitching.

The Hmong ethnic group in China and Southeast Asia create a similar textile. Both designs are folk-art jewels worthy of using on the front of a gorgeous pillow, and even being framed as art.

Textiles are easy to use as wall hangings. They take up little space and are easy to move. I have hung Japanese obis (the traditional sash that ties a kimono) on high walls. Formal obis run about 12 inches wide and 13 feet long, so they are well-suited for a room with a vaulted ceiling.

Of course, a silk kimono could also be displayed. A quick internet search will show numerous display methods (and describe them better than I can).

Internationally inspired textiles can be used as a table runner for a dining table, a buffet or a media stand. Or, consider using a textile as a tablecloth. An indigo batik cloth from Indonesia is one option, as it would be large enough to cover a rectangular table.

Putting a plant stand or narrow hall table in your entryway is another economic way to establish a theme in a tiny home. A small, slim piece can still impact a room. Anyone who walks into the room will see it as a style statement.

I have a petite Chinese country chair made of unfinished elm wood. Everyone comments on the piece, and it's only 17 inches wide and 12 inches deep!

It's time to go online and choose a few simple, but dynamic accent pieces to transform the look of your home.

• Christine Brun is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of “Small Space Living.” Send questions and comments to her by email at

© 2018, Creators Syndicate

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