Liz Stiving-Nichols: Design to Dye For

November 6, 2012

Overdyed, dip-dyed, ombré, oh my! From fabric to rugs, furniture, fashion…and (gasp) even hair, it seems everywhere you look today something has been creatively dyed.

Dark Shadows
Ombré: A French word meaning ‘shaded’ describing the appearance of related colors shading from light to dark or vice versa within one fabric. (Definition from

Photo courtesy of Liz Stiving-Nichols

I am still in love with my DVF ombré ankle boots from last season…and am coveting the Gia satchel from Michael Kors…but I can also get my ombré fix in other design areas.

Diane von Furstenberg ombré patent-leather and suede ankle boots; photo from

Rachel Zoe’s Brooklyn ombré faux-fur coat; photo from

Michael Kors crocodile-embossed Gia satchel; photo from

Although I usually prefer a simple window treatment, I am dreaming of billowing drapes in this fabric. Pierre Frey’s Kalahari pattern is a beautiful blend of bamboo and linen and is offered in four colorways. With the ombré trend growing in popularity, there seems to be something available for every budget and application.

Pierre Frey’s Kalahari linen and bamboo fabric; photo from

Ombré curtains as seen on

Twilight VI Aurora carpet from Tufenkian; photo from

Crate & Barrel’s Camilla table lamp; photo from

An ombré canvas pillow from Terrain; photo from

An ombré console currently offered on Etsy; photo from

Take a Dip
The dip-dye technique embraced by the fashion industry has carried over to home decor.

Items from Nate Berkus’s new collection for Target; photo from

Concrete and resin pendant lamp by Renate Vos; photo from

Diane von Furstenberg dip-dyed wool pillow; photo from

Or you can progress from dip-dye to dip-paint, where a little goes a long way…literally. While some may think it looks like a project in mid-production, I think including one piece with this half-on-half-off finish becomes functional art.

The Dip chair from Folklore; photo from

Judith Seng’s Trift series, made from found logs; photo from

The Windsor love seat from Anthropologie; photo from

Ladies & Gentlemen servers from Horne; photo from

Overdyed, Not Overdone

Ruby Star Traders chair upholstered in pink overdyed carpet; photo from

This is a technique for those who dream of a world saturated in color.

I first found these overdyed rugs a few years ago while visiting ABC Carpet and Home in New York. When time permits, I can happily spend endless hours in that store. I was instantly enamored by the bright, unexpected colors, then smitten when I learned that the rugs in their Color Reform collection are a product of up-cycling.

Many of these rugs began their journey as one-of-a-kind vintage rugs. Handwoven during the classic era of the early- to mid-nineteenth century in Turkey, India and Pakistan, these rugs have been given a new life. The process begins with each rug being washed in a neutralizing solution, removing their original colors yet preserving the original design and texture. An overdying process is then performed by a master of color to create a modern work of art. (For the reproduction versions of this technique, the pile may be shaved down to increase the look of a time-worn patina.)

Photo courtesy of Liz Stiving-Nichols

There are several stores and showrooms offering these designs–with their many color choices–at various price points. Steven King Decorative Carpets in the Boston Design Center offers reproductions by the square foot. You can also find these at popular retailers such as West Elm.

Do you have an antique rug that has seen better days? There are experts who will actually dye your existing rugs for you. Or the brave souls who embrace a DIY project can find step-by-step instructions online: check out this post on the Design Lines blog.

Photo courtesy of Liz Stiving-Nichols

Photo courtesy of Liz Stiving-Nichols

Overdying is another trend that has been translated. Check out this furniture line designed by Diesel for Moroso. They’ve taken this popular overdying technique and applied it to wood…aniline-dyed ash plywood to be exact.

Photos from

Whatever your taste, budget or comfort level, the “dye†is cast!

–Liz Stiving-Nichols

After receiving her BFA in interior design from the Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago, Liz moved to Martha’s Vineyard and spent the next seven years working as an interior designer for Hutker Architects. A 2012 recipient of New England Home‘s 5 Under 40 Award for design excellence in New England, Liz has been published in several regional and national design magazines and her portfolio of work includes projects on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod and in Boston, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. To see more of her work check out

Also visit our guest blogger archives for more design inspiration.

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