Secrets of Southern Design: Fabric “How To” Guide
This article was first published on the front page of the Coasting Section of the Sun News.
Incorporating fabrics in interior design is a creative way to turn an ordinary room into an extraordinary one.
As a designer, fabrics are the one tool in my toolbox I cannot live without.
By mixing and matching fabrics, we can create the opportunity to evoke a specific sense of style for a space. Though all of this depends on what type of sentiment you want to create within a room.
To produce a calming effect, use fabrics that contain shades of light blue and serence green. Deep reds and golds are workable choices to fashion more dramatic spaces. No matter which emotion you are trying to convert, decorating with fabrics can easily give a room a brand new look.
There are a few principles for mixing and matching fabrics. This easy “how to” guide will provide insight to my best kept secrets on combining fabrics to personalize any area of the home.
Unify Color Schemes
I suggest beginning by selecting three to four colors per room. Often I will find a print fabric that has several colors in it. I might only use this fabric in a small way, but I can easily build an entire color scheme and room concept from it. I refer to this as a “magic fabric”. Sometimes I use a magic fabric in a large way. This is especially true for homes with tall ceilings and ample wall space.
For one of my clients dining rooms, I backed the dining chairs with a stripped blue, cream and soft gold fabric to draw out the corresponding blue wall color. I then had the chair fronts covered in a velvet-like solid cream fabric with a customized silkly blue appliqué of the families initials.
One tip is to be mindful of mixing pastels with primary colors or too many muted jewel tones. They could clash, giving an inconsistent style to the room. Instead, select a color palate that is well-balanced. Many fabric and home decor stores can provide you with pre-determined color schemes and pre-matched families of cohesive fabrics.
Play with Patterns
Incorporate different scales of prints and solids in your design. The first fabric pattern should be large-scale. This will create a focal point.
Next, choose a second pattern that is completely different from the first. it should be a medium-size pattern but within the same color palate. Finally, choose a solid fabric to complement or counter=balance the first two patterns. Or pick a fabric with contrasting color that features an embroidered design or embellished accents such as decorative buttons, fringes, brocades or tufts.
It is fine to use various patterns in one room as long as they share an association. Geometric prints are all the rage right now. Quadrafoil is one of my favorites. Its open weave has a rounded edge which lends to a type of softness. Geometric fabrics blend nicely with magic fabrics, making it easy to add stripes, plaids and solids to create amazing interest.
Tie in textures
Part of mixing fabrics is blending and juxtaposing different textures to individualize a space. Create a “swatch board” with all the fabrics under consideration. This provides a preview of how the fabrics will look together. If needed, consult an interior designer.
Match swatches of smooth and woven fabrics such as hemp linen, velvet, chenille, damask, and puckered or matalasse silk. Also combine fabrics with a sheen or matte finish to add depth. The key is to not overindulge in a single fabric texture. Rather, mix and match fabrics to create a sense of comparison.
After choosing the fabrics, you can impement the decorating process in layers. For a bedroom, consider starting with beddingand work outward to window treatments, rugs, pillows and walls. This can range from cushions on a window seat to the placement of a fabric canopy over a bed or a fabric headboard.
Use fabric in unusual ways
Don’t forget to use fabrics in unexpected installations. Create a palazzo feeling on the porch or loggia iwth ourdoor draperies. Uphostering walls can add amazing texture to interior spaces. For a dramatic use of fabric, consider “tenting” a celling. This particular technique is very difficult, so I suggest consulting a professional.
The most important thing to note about fabrics is that no home should be without them. Window treatments are an absolute must, even in homes with grand views and uniquely shaped windows. There is an unexplainable polish that comes with a window treatment and a softness that makes a space more livable and inviting.
I hope this has helped you to look at fabrics in a new light! If they are something I cannot live without, and you are thinking about a makeover of one of your rooms or your entire home, I know they will be something you will not be able to live without either!