Textile Alert: African Mud Cloth

I have been in this weird holding pattern with our living room design.  I am putting together our ideas into a story board and nothing is really sitting well with me.  I like something one day, and then the next I hate it.  I haven’t found that one thing that I just seem to love or be super inspired by.

I think one of the reasons I have been feeling stuck, is that I bought this awesome antique morris chair for $100 with the idea of upholstering it and perhaps painting the wood.

One would think that a woman that loves textiles would love this kind of a project. Well you are all wrong. This chair has been adding to my indecision about the room.  Each time I think of a concept, or decide on a color scheme that I love, I then look at that chair and get in a tailspin of trying to find the perfect fabric to upholster the chair in that would match the theme perfectly. This is causing option fatigue!  I am not inspired just overwhelmed with choices and options and possibilities for this chair. I’m worrying about choosing the wrong the fabric that won’t fit with the design concept of the room.

And then I had a moment while waiting in line for coffee two weeks ago.  I am going to start with the chair, and design the room around the chair. Yes! An inspirational starting point. So then I asked myself, what would the chair want? WWTCW? What is the chair screaming it needs? What type of cloth, textile or fabric am I DYING to work with? SO much so, that I can design an entire room around it.


Photo from the Fair Trade African Fabric Shop in the UK. www.africanfabric.co.uk

The answer was obvious.  My new and biggest obsession as of late. African Mud Cloth! An amazing textile tradition that originates in Mali.

Real true Africa Mud Cloth is a cloth that is handmade from cotton fibers. The designs you find on the cloth are not woven in like in other textile traditions, but they are painted on with dies made of tea and clay! Each shape and design painted on the fabric is symbolic and tells a story. No two are alike. Hence, mud cloth is my new fascination.

Here are some of my favorite mud cloth interior inspirations that I drawing from for our living room design.

Photo from Sarah Sarna.

Photo from Sarah Sarna.

A mud cloth chair in your library? Why not?! I love this design of a charcoal library by Sarah Sarna.

Or how about this chair in Ariele Alasko’s Brooklyn Studio? I love this mix of industrial with anthropological. Very on point.

Design Sponge home tour of Ariele Alasko's studio.

Design Sponge home tour of Ariele Alasko’s studio.


If you’re wanting to shop for your own mud cloth, here are some awesome places that I have found…

I just bought my mud cloth for my upholstery project from Loom and Kiln.

You can find Fair Trade mud cloth at this awesome online shop- Anase Village.

The AfroBedia Etsy shop has a nice selection on vintage mud cloth.

But let’s not just stop fabric! Look at these mud cloth pillows from Habitation Boheme! You can also go all out mud cloth mania and take a page out of Amber Interiors amazing design book with her Mali Wallpaper.

Photo by Amber Interiors

Photo by Amber Interiors

So there you have it.  The guiding north star of inspiration for our living room design..mud cloth. Stay tuned as I share our progress!