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Ethnic and eclectic textile finds
at Rooms & Gardens in Santa Monica

January 20, 2010 |  8:16 am

On a scouting trip to Santa Monica last week, I stopped by Rooms & Gardens, sister store to the one in Santa Barbara that Eric and Jami Voulgaris founded in the early 1990s. The couple teamed up with actress Mary Steenburgen to expand and open the 1,800-square-foot furniture, antiques and design boutique in Santa Monica.

Eric describes the stores' aesthetic as “a fusion of British Colonial with ethnic accents, Chinoiserie and a relaxed coastal theme.” In other words, its eclectic design influences come from many continents and periods, as revealed in the one-of-a-kind antiques, custom home furnishings and accessories on its shelves.

OttomanMy eyes were drawn to three accessories made with vintage ethnic textiles. There’s something versatile and comforting about “timeworn” embroidered silk, faded muslin batik and a patchwork of recycled textiles. Each piece hints at an interesting history and yet fits comfortably in the here and now.

Women artists employed in a fair-trade guild in India sew recycled and vintage textiles into colorful 17-inch pouf-style ottomans, at right, top. Rooms & Gardens has had a hard time hanging onto the cushions ever since a pair appeared in "Creating a Home," Batik pillowsa new book by interior designer Kathryn M. Ireland. The ottoman, embroidered and embellished with conch shells and tassels, costs $260.

By working with a few vendors, Rooms & Gardens is never short of accent pillows made from hand-blocked and batik-printed cotton and muslin, also from India. The pillows, seen at lower right, range from 20 by 14 inches to 20 by 27 inches; all are down-filled and $185.

The 12-inch-diameter “good fortune ball,” pictured at top, is stitched together of sections of embroidered silk and other vintage Chinese textiles. The fabric sphere, $195, was traditionally given as a wedding present but is also an ideal house-warming, birthday and anniversary gift. Former President Bill Clinton purchased one on the day Rooms & Gardens opened. There is a framed photo of him with Steenburgen and her partners, along with a signed dollar bill, on display at the counter. No word on whether Clinton’s luck improved.

Rooms & Gardens, 1311A Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 451-5154. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

-- Debra Prinzing

Photos, from top: Good fortune ball, Indian ottomans, printed accent pillows. Credit: Debra Prinzing.