Good day, design friends! Today, I’m sharing my August Moodboard. This month I was intrigued by tortoiseshell. Do you remember when Sarah revealed the uniquely beautiful tortoise switchplates for her office renovation? I was captivated! I had never encountered the pattern in this application; I wondered what other novel examples awaited discovery. Spoiler Alert: Lots! Click through to see why I love tortoiseshell and some of my favorite finds.
So many aspects of this print appeal to me! It’s obviously organic and quietly variable. Patterns from nature are always a win in my book and suit a variety of aesthetics. Many tortoise iterations appear mottled, so they’re less dramatic than zebra or leopard. This subtlety makes it an interesting alternative for the pattern shy. Other examples, like the Celerie Kemble for Schumacher wallpaper below, pack a punch! Which do you prefer?
While colors may vary depending on the material and designer, tortoiseshell is generally found in a dark palette of warm browns, rusty orange and golden tan. This creates great versatility. Tortoise blends seamlessly with other neutrals, yet the pattern adds a little snap. For color fans like myself, it acts as a perfect foil for kaleidoscopic interiors, without feeling blah. Are you ready to peruse some treasures wearing this crowd-pleasing pattern?
Click directly on the objects to be redirected to the source, or use the numbered links below to shop my finds…
01: tortoise light switch cover // 02: tortoise shell headboard // 03: tortoise table lamp // 04: tortoise bamboo table // 05: tortoise glassware set // 06: inlay table with tortoise shell base // 07: vintage tortoise bamboo bookends // 08: monogram coasters // 09: faux tortoise glass bowl // 10: tortoise flatware // 11: glass vase // 12: henredon tortoise console pair
As usual, I have a difficult time narrowing down my picks! #3 checks so many boxes! Tiny lamp, reasonably priced and definitely giving Murano mushroom vibes. I dig the tortoise bamboo of #4; also called torched or burnt bamboo, I find the darker, dappled appearance preferable to the traditional, lighter variety. Can you believe the perfection of #6? I can picture it anchoring the most stunning entry vignette. For a more attainable tortoise fix, how about #11? The addition of white to the design adds a fresh twist. Does anything catch your eye?
Tortoiseshell has been used for decorative purposes on vessels and furniture for centuries. Have no fear, animal lovers! The harvesting of actual tortoiseshell was banned internationally in the 1970s. Faux finishes reign currently. Those fireplace tiles in the opening image were hand painted. Some brief internet sleuthing uncovered a variety of DIY videos for creating a tortoiseshell look with paint, stain and even epoxy. I saved a couple for future consideration. Are any of you adventurously crafty?
Given my affection for colorful glassware, china and linens, incorporating tortoise pieces into a tablescape might be an ideal way to bring this gorgeous motif into my home. How many sets of silverware are too many? Asking for a friend.
There you have it! All my thoughts and meanderings on tortoiseshell. Compiling this round up really reignited my desire for a special piece. I certainly find it a delightful and classic design, but I would love to hear your ideas. Do you already own a tortoiseshell item or two? Could you envision a perfect element for your home? I’m anxious to read your comments! I hope you are all well and soaking up the late summer sunshine! Until next time, friends.
Melanie TAugust 26, 2021 at 7:04 am
I loved the headboard but others must have as well because it is no longer offered. This year I was thrilled to purchase a lighter option of tortiseshell frames described as ivory for my new lenses this year that works better with my skin color. So glad to see that classic tortiseshell is having a comeback!
PeggiAugust 26, 2021 at 3:40 pm
Hello, Melanie! I’m sorry about the headboard. I found that it will be back in stock at a different retailer on October 4 if that’s helpful. https://rstyle.me/+tNsb4Sxg7UwA2WlKiTX2jw Your glasses sound lovely. I also like the tortoise with the lighter background, but I didn’t find many options in home items. I hope your Thursday is great!
LaurenAugust 26, 2021 at 7:06 am
Good morning Peggi! I was equally intrigued when Sarah revealed the tortoise shell switch plate, as I’d never seen it used in this type of application. We’ve all seen tortoise shell glassware and candle holders no doubt, but the wealth of offerings clearly goes above and beyond what I’d imagined.
For my own preferences, I could handle small doses mixed throughout. Examples like #1, 3, 5 or 9 would grab my interest. Although if we’re talking large scale pieces I’d totally do something like #6. What I love about this piece is how subtle and visually interesting the tortoise shell is; I can picture a table like this in a breakfast nook, surrounded by vintage chairs-almost beckoning you to come have a seat and take a look. The brass feet add just enough! I doubt that I could handle a piece of furniture that is all tortoise shell. For me the palette is slightly too rich, and I’d definitely need a larger piece to have some wood tone contrast to balance it out.
I think you make a great point for the pattern weary. In my opinion, animal prints of any kind serve as a neutral. This pattern in particular can be likened to leopard print- substitute a sweet tortoise shell pattern in any application you’d choose leopard, and voila- mission accomplished! I wonder, did you find any pillows along your perusing?
Are there other iterations available for home interiors? For instance I’m a huge fan of the more muted rose gold tortoise shell. For those that have more neutral overall palettes, a version of that kind could be more appealing.
Lovely musings for a Thursday morning! I see many a rabbit hole in my future today. I hope your days chasing the last of the summer sun have been enjoyable and inspiring. We’re experiencing a wonderful cooling trend, and I’m longing to usher in fall, while simultaneously appreciating and soaking up the last bit of that freeing summer feeling. Have a great day Peggi! Xo
PeggiAugust 26, 2021 at 4:21 pm
Hello, friend! I definitely see your vision for #6! I just think it’s the dreamiest. We’re again in accord regarding animal prints as a neutral. What can I say? I love the drama. Unfortunately, I did not find any tortoiseshell softgoods. I was hoping that the Celerie Kemble for Schumacher wallpaper might also be available in a fabric, but no luck. I also didn’t find the lighter version of the tortoise pattern represented often; I spied a vintage Art Deco mantle clock and one apparently rare trinket box. Although I like the darker version, I can see that the softer tones would blend better with airy neutrals.
We, too, are finally experiencing a little cooling trend. After the wicked heatwave we had, my fingers are crossed for fall weather to last until late January!🤣 I hope that your school years has begun smoothly! Have a super weekend!
AmyAugust 26, 2021 at 7:51 am
I snagged this super rare Thomasville Earnest Hemingway desk with bamboo and faux tortoiseshell off FB Marketplace for an amazing price and it makes me happy every time I look at it (plus the vintage blue and white lamp I bought from Tuesday Made!) https://www.ebay.com/itm/284321838931?hash=item4232e6f753:g:oxgAAOSwXutf-nDZ
PeggiAugust 26, 2021 at 4:27 pm
Holy smokes, Amy! That desk might be the score of the century! And I bet the blue and white lamp is perfection with it. I’m imagining you composing important correspondence or maybe the next great American novel seated at that gem. Thanks for sharing and have a super weekend.
SarahAugust 27, 2021 at 11:14 am
I love that, Amy!! Such a beautiful find. I’d love to see a photo with that cute little lamp! I almost kept that one after we rewired it. Haha! You have great taste :)
ColleenAugust 26, 2021 at 9:35 am
Whoa Peggy! What an interesting post, I could definitely go for the tortoise shell design on my dining table #9, 10 and/or 11 I’m totally loving. It would add incredible pizzazz 😍 and add that glam factor that’s unique and interesting. The cutlery is stunning and a special occasion set for sure but the bowl and vase would be beautiful in the fall and winter. I don’t own anything of this nature and you have introduced something in this post I have never considered before. You have such a creative way and think out of the box for design. Wow! I’m always interested and eager in seeing how you will inspire me next. Cheers, to your inspiration, in daring me to take a little walk on the wild side 😜 Have a super Thursday and weekend 🥂
PeggiAugust 26, 2021 at 5:42 pm
Oh, Colleen! I love thinking that I’ve inspired a walk on the wild side! The fun of design for me is self expression and experimentation! Wouldn’t those tortoise pieces bring some zing to a tablescape?! Not that I’m already scheming for Thanksgiving… Thanks so much for your encouragement and kind words. I hope you, too, enjoy a most wonderful weekend!
Jennifer LauraAugust 26, 2021 at 9:42 am
It’s a gorgeous pattern, going to have to keep my eyes peeled when I’m thrifting now!
PeggiAugust 26, 2021 at 5:49 pm
Right?! I love having new treasures to hunt! I certainly enjoy an aimless meander, but what’s better than scoring something that you had on your list?! Happy thrifting, Jennifer!
Danna FAugust 26, 2021 at 12:11 pm
Great post Peggi! Love tortoise shell pattern. I own many sunglasses in this print but you have shown me some beautiful home accents to think about. Especially the tables and flatware..all the heart eyes! My mother owns a set of glassware that I would love to have some day. Hope teaching is going well for you. Have a great weekend!
PeggiAugust 26, 2021 at 5:54 pm
Thanks, Danna !I’m glad that you are a fellow tortoise appreciator! I have always loved it in eyewear too, so I was excited to find so many interesting home items. Oooh,I bet your mom’s glassware is amazing! I think I’ve got to invest in some tablewares; they’re so darn classy. Thank you for the well wishes! A stupendous late-summer weekend to you!