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The Hawaiian barkcloth pattern that is setting the stage for my entire Mahalo Lounge project

kamuela_green_grandemahalo-lounge-logoMy project to transform my 15′ x 45′ living room/dining room into a Polynesian pop paradise is now solidly under way — made possible by the fact that I found a fabric for the 20+ linear feet of pinch-pleat curtains required by the space. The beautiful fabric that I discovered and which is now at the drapery workroom: Diamondhead Fabric’s Kamuela Green Kahala Cloth. I am MADLY in love with this fabric. It is JUST what I was looking for! And now that I have it, it is setting the scene for other key elements of my Mahalo Lounge.

Disclosure: I paid Diamondhead full-price for this fabric, although I did offer to barter some ad space for part of the purchase, which they agreed to try. That covered about 1/4 of my cost. But, it was not a determining factor — I would still have bought the fabric: As I said, it was exactly — no, it was better — than what I had in my mind’s eye. As a nifty gifty, the company also sent me two 20″ pillow covers for free. Folks, at just $15 each, these pillow covers are a fantastic deal!

orchids-of-hawaii-lightsWhy I chose this Diamondhead Fabrics barkcloth pattern

I will be writing lots lots more about this big decorating project in the days, weeks and months to come. But in the spirit of not making every post epic, I’ll just start by saying:

  • Since the 20+ linear feet of windows in the space is so dominant, I knew I needed to find the right fabric for new pinch pleats, because these coverings would be so… dominant, to repeat that phrase.
  • Home tiki bars are ideally meant to be complete escapes from everyday realities. Often, they are basements with few or very small windows. But since my Mahalo Lounge is upstairs, it will serve as a daily living space, too. As such, I wanted a fabric that also communicated the idea, during the day when the drapes are open, of being a breezy open-to-the-elements lanai.
  • I also was very keen on the colors of this pattern vs. others I had seen. Have the right green / greens was super important to me for two reasons: (1) I love the pea green in old Trader Vic’s decor and (2) I have two vintage Orchids of Hawaii pendant lights, originally installed in the (still operating) bar in Lenox (my home town’s) Luau Hale restaurant, that I am super excited to use in the space. I also adore the corally-orange in the pattern, the slightly off white flowers, the straw colored flowers, and the hints of baby blue. I like the opportunity to weave these other colors into my space. And, it’s perfect that the field is black. When I close the drapes and turn down the lights to hold a party, that darkness will bring us all closer to the ideal of being shut off from the world, transported to a totally different place. And black is a great “outline” color to play with elsewhere in the room.
  • The fabric is available at what I consider a very fair price — $20/yard. And, it’s actively being printed, so you can get lots of yardage for big projects. I needed — hang onto your hats: 70 yards.
  • Finally, I love the cartoon-like nature of this fabric. It’s whimsical. I’m whimsical. It’s just PERFECT. I need to ask Diamondhead Fabrics if I can interview the designer — she did a fantastic job!!!!

I’m told the drapes may be ready before Christmas! This project is happening!

Start your decorating color scheme with a pattern

When starting a new decorating project, professionals often start with the patterned piece first. I love that Kate taught me to use the phrase, “Where does your pattern lie?”, when starting the journey to choose room colors.

Why start with a pattern? Draperies, rugs, and wallpaper all are typically carefully designed by professionals to combine colors that play well together — the designers work all angles of the color wheel to come up with pleasing designs that may include complementary colors, opposite colors, analogous colors, accents, etc. There are many ways to go about combining colors so that everything’s not a hot mess. And conversely, for those less practiced, it’s easy to combine colors to make for a hot mess! If you find a pattern that you’re crazy about, these pros have done all the hard work for you, if you then follow their lead in choosing the other colors for your room.

Once you have your beloved pattern, it makes choosing other elements of the room much easier. You just use the colors in the pattern — “exactly the same” is easiest and most fool-proof — or you can add white to tint a color lighter, black to shade it darker, or both black and white to tone it somewhere in between. I am getting a new sectional for the room — fun fun fun and a story soon to come! — and one of the colors in the drapery fabric will drive the choice. So will my choice for a rug, bar seats, other pendant lights, etc.

The Mahalo Lounge

mahalo-lounge-logo“Mahalo” = Hawaiian for “thank you”. I’m super excited about creating an inviting Mahalo Lounge to welcome even more friends and family into my home as a way of showing gratitude for their friendship and for the abundance of my life. Working from home, and now being an empty nester, and now sans Kate to boot (!), I’ve been feeling … lonely. I’m doing other things to solve for that, for sure. But my Mahalo Lounge is part of my long-term plan as well.

Link love:

  1. Joe Felice says:

    Is it “barcloth” or “barkcloth?” And whence did the name come? I wish I could get rsponses from comments, but apparently, they don’t come to my computer.

  2. pam kueber says:

    Barkcloth. As in: Fabric that was once made by bark (like tapa cloth still is today), but is now woven with a nubbly look to it, like that “real” barkcloth.

    I don’t know what happened to the Comment subscriber. Gremlins.

  3. pam kueber says:

    Good to hear. I believe that my friends at Cheeky Tiki in the U.K. use it in their projects…. I would not use it as upholstery, except for maybe lightly used pieces, but for draperies — yum!

  4. densie says:

    Very exciting! It’s a really big deal finding the right fabric that one knows they will be living with a very long time so it must be loved. As far as cost, compared to other fabrics out there that might not even have the same quality but are more expensive, I think it’s a fair price. This room will be A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. when done. So happy for you!!

  5. Sandra L Sells says:

    Pam, My mother was from Australia so when she landed in California she immediately appreciated the palm trees. Of course, she also loved the barkcloth in tropical patterns. So she painted the living room walls Flamingo Pink and put up a similar pattern to yours. It reminded her of home and we all loved it. Cozy, warm and somehow it felt like vacation time as well. Relaxing home. She paired it all with Swedish Pine. Looked super! I think those lights you have are the bestest ever!! Enjoy your new room and I look forward to seeing it complete as well…Sandra

  6. C.C. says:

    Good call on Diamondhead, Pam – I’ve used their Pali print (in cherry red) for two throw pillows, a vintage rattan ottoman, and (last week) a vintage rattan stool. It gave my seating area a tiki feel without having to replace my couch.

    Also: I envy those vintage Orchids of Hawaii lamps. They are not easy to find (and if you think it’s hard finding vintage tiki treasures in Massachusetts, they get snapped up much faster and MUCH more expensively here in California where tiki never really died…).

  7. Rick G says:

    I can’t wait to see what you do with this space Pam !! – To be able to transform your room/s into a tropical paradise is the perfect project – I know having a good plan & discipline of execution is they key & I know for me, it would be an ongoing project; A real fun one though !! ) – there’s so many ways to go with it, I would be tempted to add a surf element, maybe have a couple of vintage surf boards; either as-is; or modified into tables, lamps or something. I’d be thinking how to do a mini waterfall in there & I’d probably do an airbrushed sky on the ceiling & & a tropical water / ocean type back drop ….. and a couple of fake palm trees thrown into the mix as well !!! – have fun !!

  8. Andrea says:

    Love Love Love your project and I just ordered the Green Kahala cloth from Diamondhead Fabrics….love it – thank you for inspiring me…Mahalo Andrea Kehe

  9. Doriot Lair says:

    Hi Kate. Diamonhead Fabrics, from whom I’ve ordered yards and yards of gorgeous floral patterned “barkcloth” fabric for curtains, seems to have quite the diminished supply of, or are offering less of, most of their previously fabulous inventory. Any other sources of “barkcloth” in tropical, tiki, or hawaiian prints? I have 2 rooms to go! Thank you!

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