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Make a Noticeable Change With Fabric

How Fabric Can Add Color and Drama To Your Interiors

Fabric can be one of the most dramatic specifications in a home's interior design concept, because it offers the chance to introduce new textures to the space. Fabric also helps create a variety of moods, depending on the color and style. "Fabric added color and drama to my space while creating a more finished yet romantic feel," says P. Dean Addison of Salt Lake City, Utah. "I didn't realize how fabric could provide such a noticeable change."

When approaching the challenge of choosing a new fabric, it's easy to get sidetracked by the numerous patterns and colors. The challenge is to obtain the look you want with a textile that performs the way you expect it to perform. Understanding the basic categories and characteristics of textiles will help you make long-lasting decorating decisions. Here are some simple guidelines:

What's the Application?
There are three major categories here: upholstery, drapery or accessory (bedspreads and throw pillows). If you place your project into one of these categories, then you'll get started in the right direction. The key is to isolate your options based on the application or use of the fabric.

"The fabric for the front of my duvet cover is a silk by Pindler and Pindler, however I needed the duvet's backside to be functional for my lifestyle which includes my dog," says Meche Ortega of Park City, Utah. "[My designer] and I incorporated a fabric made of polyester fibers for the duvet's backside, which blended beautifully with the 100 percent silk textile on the front. I love the look of both fabrics and enjoy the 'no worry' security from the polyester."

Once you know how the fabric will be used, it's time to take a look at the textile industry. Although there are several specific categories in the textile industry, for our purposes we will simplify the categories into two: naturals and synthetics.

Natural Fibers
Most people know natural fibers as cottons, linens, wools and silk. Some people consider these to be the finest textiles in the world, because they come from nature. Common uses for this category include window treatments, throw pillows, bedspreads and duvet covers, and upholstered walls.

As beautiful as natural fibers are, they are not perfect for every use. Silk is a favorite choice for window treatments, but the fabric would not be ideal for windows in a sunny conservatory, because extreme sunlight could cause harsh effects to the textile. Another common mistake is linen fabric used for heavy upholstery.

Most natural fabrics are best for light-use only, especially when it comes to upholstery. Some light upholstery suggestions could include a silk textile on a pair of French chairs in a formal living room, or a cotton and linen blend on a bench in a formal entry. Wools are a little more durable. Remember anytime you are working with textiles woven from natural fibers, they are the "special ones" of the textile industry and require loving care and proper application to ensure that they will be around for years to come.

Synthetic Fibers
Synthetic or man-made fibers are the show stoppers of the textile industry. These textiles look great and perform even better. Their durability makes them a great choice for heavy upholstery, yet some are so elegantly woven that they are appropriate for delicate panels of fabric flanking a bay window. It's also not uncommon to see synthetic fibers blended with other fibers, including those from natural origins. These combinations can create beautiful variations in texture and sheen. The most common synthetic fibers being used today are polyester, nylon, acrylic and olefin, and they are most often used for dining chairs, children's bedding and ottomans.

The color of synthetic fiber textiles is inherent to the fiber. This means the color is the same color and intensity on the inside as it is on the outside. If fading and durability are an issue for you, then a synthetic fiber may be a perfect fit for your project.

A Word About Style
The timeline for home fashion trend is in you, as long as you choose the fabric you love and it meets your usage criteria. If you feel good when you walk into your space, your fabric is "in style." Your home is your haven to create your applied art, therefore you determine at what rate future changes should happen.

If you are pondering the addition of a new textile and are stumped on what style and color are best for you, consider finding a starting point in the room, such as an area rug or wall hanging to pull color and line from. Another great way to ignite creativity is to create a "style file." Fill this file with tear sheets from decorating magazines that feature fabrics and styles that catch your eye. When you are out shopping for fabrics, be sure to take your file along as a resource, and don't hesitate to buy only half a yard to view the fabric in your room.

Fabrics are the gemstones of the interior design industry, because they represent so much of the homeowner's inner qualities and uniqueness. It's important to take your time when choosing textiles, and understand that they are one of your best bridges to attaining balance within the core elements of interior design.

Textile Tip
When wondering about the durability of a textile, find out the "double rub" rating of the piece you are considering. The greater the double rub rating, the higher the textile's ability to wear. In residential design, it's a good idea to stay at or above 9,000. It's not unusual to see residential ratings into the 30,000 range.

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