Henna Comes Home


Henna is a natural paste that has been used to etch temporary exotic flourishes on hands and other body parts for 5,000 years. The tattoos are said to date back to ancient Egypt, when they stained the fingers of the pharaohs prior to mummification. Adopted by Indian and Middle Eastern cultures, it is traditional to decorate women for Mehndi wedding ceremonies and to paint the bellies of pregnant women in their 8th month for good luck and calming effects.

I’m a huge fan of henna motifs, not just on the skin but in home design. I have borrowed the paisley floral motifs to stamp lamp shades and headboards, and have framed painted images of henna hands that I find in various art shops. I’ve employed one of the greatest henna artists, Daracy Vasudev of Henna Lounge in San Francisco, to work her magic on window coverings (below) and walls for some of my design clients.


I’ve been waiting and waiting for someone to produce henna designs for the home so I wouldn’t have to come up with a line myself. And now, it seems, in the new year, some vendors are getting hip to the tattoos for wool and natural cotton textiles.

Among them, the producers of the Hamsah Hand Rug at West Elm. It’s made of pure hand-tufted wool and is sold up to an 8×10 ($499). I’m floored by the carpet’s interpretation of a henna hand, while borrowing from the hamsah, a Middle-Eastern symbol of protection, especially from the evil eye.


Meantime, CB2 introduces Mehndi Bedding (above), filigree medallions in chocolate embroidery on organic, undyed cotton. It emerges as an intricate, hand-drawn motif right out of a henna book. It includes a duvet $119 to $129) and shams, along with a chocolate Danita accent pillow ($39.95). There’s also a teal version of the henna pillow.


Prior to these ready-made henna objects for the home, I’ve looked to textile maker John Robshaw, who produces a few hand-blocked natural fabrics with henna-style floral motifs such as the three below.

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I’m hoping henna for the home is here to stay, unlike the gorgeous body tattoos that sadly fade away after a day or two.

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.