21 February 2011

If I were a gypsy...

In my last post, on the Dutch fashion house of oilily, I mentioned that I have always thought it would be fun to decorate a gypsy caravan, in the South of France. That got me thinking: a gypsy caravan loaded with oilily fabrics and accents - how amazingly GREAT would that be??!! I could imagine a smattering of other designers I'd add to the mix.

Before I get to my caravan, here's a little historical background color:

For many, many generations, there have been gypsies (les gitans) in the South of France - throughout Provence, and most notably, in the Camargue region, in the Rhone delta, near Spain. The Camargue is a beautiful, mostly marshy, area - a land of white horses, pink flamingos, black bulls and rainbow attired gypsies.

Cowboys of the Camargue (les guardians in French).
The gypsies' religious ceremonies become must-attend pilgrimages for many who live outside of the Camargue (above postcard from 1925).

The two main groups of gypsies in Provence, 
the Roms (short for les Romanies) and the Manouches,
are fervent Catholics who worship their local patron saints,
two Marys (les Saintes Maries de la Mer) and the saint called "Black Sarah".

Throughout the region, old gypsy caravans (les roulottes) can occasionally be spotted, some of which have been renovated for use by homeowners - some even for rent as part of bed and breakfast vacations.

 Paintings by Henri Manguin (above) and Vincent Van Gogh (below).

If you are interested in buying your own fully decorated roulotte in Provence, there are none better than those offered by boho clothing and interior designer, Jeanne Bayol. Here are some of Jeanne's inspired interiors for caravans:
How could anyone not be happy surrounded by these glorious colors?!
A selection of Jeanne Bayol's funky clothing designs.

And it's the perfect gift for the man or woman who "has everything"! The Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood received this caravan as a birthday gift from his wife. How is she going to top that one next year??

This brand new model was recently shown at Paris's Maison et Objet show.
(photo from the blog, Belle Maison/Chez Catherine)

The following are some basic design principles for creating glorious gypsy caravan interiors:

 Colorful walls and accessories...

 Hand-crafted pillows, rugs, patchwork...
 I love the skirt under the sink (more opportunity for color and pattern!)
...and I've always wanted a cupboard bed. Look at the gorgeous, old wood carving. I especially love the modern periwinkle blue walls with the antique cabinetry.
...More antique wood panelling and doors.
 Dining by candlelight is de rigueur for caravan owners.

Colorful wicker furniture...
A mix of gutsy hues...
 Cheerful accessories...
 Eclectic art and objets...old shawls as tablecloths...and fresh flowers.
Rugs and floor pillows for picnics...
 Bright quilts...
Over-the-top trims: tassels, pom poms, fringes...
Exotic items reminiscent of foreign travel adventures...
Vintage dishes...

Bohemian light fixtures, bright ribbons and beads...

Painting and poetry on every surface!

With inspiration like this, I am now ready to design my own virtual caravan, so let's go shopping!

Paint colors:
Anything bright and cheery - the more bohemian combinations, the better! I would use primaries sparingly, opting in favor of secondary & tertiary colors such as violet, saffron, raspberry, turquoise, lime, periwinkle, kumquat...

Fabrics & trimmings:

Ikat and suzani prints from Calico Corners (3 preceding photos) 

 Ikats and other block prints from John Robshaw (6 preceding photos)
Traditional block printed cottons from Souleiado
(middle image courtesy of Beaux Mondes Designs blog)
 Ikat weaves from Madeline Weinrib (8 preceding photos)

Three beautiful pima cottons from oilily.
If I remember correctly, we have a scarf in the above print, packed away with our saved oilily clothes.
Selections of Missoni Home fabrics (2 photos above)

Trimming available at Holland House Fabrics, online.

Trimmings from Passementerie Declercq (previous 12 photos)


Traditional provencal quilts (les boutis)

Souleiado quilts
(photos from Diane Kappa's blog)

Bedding from Souleiado
Bedding from John Robshaw (above & Below)
Bedding from Anthropologie

MacKenzie-Childs bed (above) or either of these custom upholstered headboards from John Robshaw  (below) would be great in lieu of a built in cupboard bed.

 A bone inlay chair from John Robshaw
...and Moorish chest from Wisteria

Dining table, chairs and end table - all from MacKenzie-Childs

Antique chairs upholstered in ikats and suzanis are essential.
All of the suzani-covered pieces (below) are from my friend, Pat Stanton of Stanistan Design, in Newton, MA:

Side tables from Moroccan Prestige
Leather poof from Moroccan Prestige

playful chandelier from Urban Outfitters
 The Casablanca Filigree lantern from Anthropologie
 The popular Turquoise Empire chandelier from Marjorie Skouras...also available in these other yummy colors.

Candle sconces and lantern from Moroccan Prestige

Horse lamp from Jonathan Adler. For my roulotte, I would cover this shade with a bright ikat silk, trimmed with glass beads.

Rugs, pillows and curtains:

 Kaffe Fasset hooked rug from Dash & Albert
 Two woven carpets from Madeline Weinrib
 Missoni rugs - the Lucca carpet (below) is available at Colony Rug Company, in the Boston area.

Bedouin rug from Urban Outfitters

Missoni-like pillow from Urban Outfitters

 Woven throws, pillows and rug from Missoni Home (above & below)
Sheer Missoni curtains at the windows
Traditional Provencal bead curtains at the door

Silk pillows from Madeline Weinrib
Vintage suzani pillow from John Robshaw

Kitchen & tableware:
 Tile backsplash (above) and fish sink (below) both from MacKenzie-Childs
 Cabinet knobs from MacKenzie-Childs

Serving pieces from MacKenzie-Childs 
Dishtowels from John Robshaw

 Akiko glasses from Kenzo Maison (above) and Moroccan tea glasses (below)
Pierre Deux demi-tasse cup and saucer.
Souleiado placemats, napkins and tablecloths
Polka dot tea set and dishes from oilily
The official oilily cookbook!
oilily labels for my homemade jams and pickles

For our grandchildren:

Charming handcrafted furnishings by MacKenzie-Childs

Other Accessories:

Artwork - this example is from the oilily museum. Check out this online spot for adorable pictures colored by kids from around the globe.

Tassels from MacKenzie-Childs

Homemade brooches, using oilily fabrics, from Dutch Colours/Dutch Sisters Etsy shop.

 Tin containers from oilily

oilily cosmetic bag with mirror, perfumes and watch
Pen from oilily and stationery from John Robshaw
Laptop case from Jonathan Adler
Decoupage mirror from Pierre Deux

Fabric-covered picture frames from Beaux Arts (left)Jan Sevadjian (center) and  Pierre Deux (right)

For good luck:
Santons, or little saints, are everywhere in Provence.

Dining & fun "en plein air":
 MacKenzie-Childs birdhouse
 MacKenzie-Childs all-weather wicker furniture (above) and planters (below)

Outdoor rug from Dash & Albert
Missoni Home beach towels

 Candle lanterns to hangs from the tree branches, from Moroccan Prestige

Enamelware for picnics, from MacKenzie-Childs

A tent of Missoni Home fabric.

To Market, To Market:
 Oilily bicycle (I am sooooo in love with this!)

oilily bag
A must for marketing: little cart to hook to the bike.
No one goes marketing in Provence without a straw bag. This one is from French Basketeer.

What to wear:
Pierre Deux needlepoint shoes from The Pink Monogram

Clothing design by Soledad Twombley, made with Madeline Weinrib ikats.

Finally, a few tongue-in-cheek disclaimers:
1) My caravan decorating budget is unlimited (I mean, come on, this IS a dream!)
2) It is located in the garden of my Provencal mas (ditto on the dream), so I don't have to worry about bath or laundry facilities.
3) I can store excess dishes, linens and accessories in the mas (I'll have lots!)
4) It's always warm and sunny - perfect picnic weather!


  1. WEEEE - it's a gypsy party! Marisa Marcantonio's wonderful blog, StyleBeat, just arrived and today's post goes hand-in-hand with this one. Check it out here:


  2. Oh I am in heaven with this one, thank you so much from this gypsy goddess!!

  3. Awesome blog - this made my day! :)


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