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Fabric Part 4

Interiordezine.com’s Free Interior Decorating ecourse – Part 4

Last time we learnt about How to Use Color Well, today we will learn How to Make Fabrics Work for You

Part 4 – Making Fabrics Work for You

Color, as we have learnt is an important factor in interior decorating, added with fabric we start to create a stylish interior.

Fabrics have many uses, some are purely aesthetic, while others are truly functional.

Curtains are a functional use for fabric. Using Drapery as a window treatment reduces draughts, keeps the heat in the room (insulates the window), reduces noise in a room as well as the obvious good looks of curtain drapery in a space.

Fabric is also used for upholstery on chairs and sofas. This is not only functional but has the added value of comfort, especially when seated, it also feels warm and looks inviting.

Using Drapery as a window treatment reduces draughts, keeps the heat in the room (insulates the window), reduces noise in a room as well as the obvious good looks of curtain drapery in a space.

Using Drapery as a window treatment reduces draughts, keeps the heat in the room (insulates the window), reduces noise in a room as well as the obvious good looks of curtain drapery in a space.

Fabric can be used to create the style of an interior

I say English Country Cottage, and what do you immediately think of?

Chintz, roses, soft pinks and greens, and creams.

Fabric can independently create a style.

1970’s?

Bold geometric designs, with lime green, browns, orange and teal.

Scottish?

Tartan, checks, heavy wools.

Nautical?

Canvas, blue and white stripe.

Asian?

Red, Silk.

You see what I mean.

English Country Cottage? Chintz, roses, soft pinks and greens, and creams.

English Country Cottage? Chintz, roses, soft pinks and greens, and creams.

How to Use Fabrics for Window Treatments

The art to using fabrics well for window treatment is to look at them through half closed eyes, this way you will see the changes in tone and the texture and the highlights of the material.

It is also important to hold it up upright and see how it drapes, look at the weight, if it is too heavy it can bog down a window, too light and it can look whimsical. Can you see through it? What is the type of weave?

Is the fabric suitable for drapery? Is it color fast or will it fade quickly? Synthetic fabrics tend to have better fade resistance and are not prone to breakdown in the sun like natural fiber fabrics such as silk, linen and wool.

Soft and subtle choice of flimsy sheer fabric creates a feminine look at this window, the curtain hangs well and the decorative side curtain is held back imaginatively with a ring.

Look at the pattern, are you going to be able to see it when it has been made into curtains or will you lose the effect? Having large patterns at the windows will enclose the room, ensure that the room is large enough to handle the scale of the pattern. The same thing goes with patterns that are very small, they can look out of proportion in a large room.

If you want to create a monochromatic color scheme and you require drapery, use a fabric one or two tones darker or lighter than the wall color, this provides a break and a small amount of contrast for a monochromatic scheme. It is best to have some sort of texture when doing this style of scheme otherwise the room can look flat.

A textured carpet and fabric adds depth and interest to the bedspread and the inverted pleat with balloon shade valance.
Choose carefully the type of heading you will use for drapes as this will effect how the fabric hangs and how the pattern is viewed or lost.

Sheers create a soft and romantic look at a window in contrast to velvet which exudes heavy luxury and warmth.

How to Use Fabrics for Upholstery

This is an area where the inexperienced can be caught out. Upholstery fabrics have quite different properties to drapery fabrics. Occasionally some can be used for both purposes, but generally not.

Upholstery takes a lot of wear and tear from us.

There is a lot of abrasion from us sitting on the upholstery of a chair or sofa, especially when we wear jeans that have the little metal tags on the pockets.

Here it is important that you look for a Martindale rub test or Weizenbeck test (I explain this in my soft furnishings ebook) to see how the fabric will stand up to wear. This is often printed on the fabric swatch where the properties are listed. If it is not there then ask the seller of the product.

Buttoned upholstered Chair.

Buttoned upholstered Chair

Leather is a great long lasting upholstery product, that is why it is so popular for use on sofas and chairs.

Leather is a great long lasting upholstery product, that is why it is so popular for use on sofas and chairs.

Upholstering items of furniture is an expensive business, you do not want to do it more than is necessary, so make sure you check out the properties of the fabric before you decide to put it on you chair, sofa or footstool. Obviously you can get away with lower grade upholstery fabric on occasional chairs, but items that are in frequent use need a good quality fabric. Good fabrics for upholstery are wools, some wool blends, Dralon, leather and vinyl.

How to Use Fabrics to Accessorize

This is the fun part of fabric. You can use fabric to accessorize, to brighten up a tired color scheme, or add some seasonal color to a room. Cushions are the most popular. We have gone through a phase of fur, animal prints, silk and beads, sheer overlays, quilted, buttoned, in fact, cushion fashions change so quickly that I dare write about them for fear of being out of date!

Wonderful colors and textures here with the use of a quilt and the cushions in numerous different textural fabrics in the same combination of colors.

Wonderful colors and textures here with the use of a quilt and the cushions in numerous different textural fabrics in the same combination of colors.

Any way, they are a great way to add color and texture to a room. You can use the same fabric on tie backs, or throws to balance the look. You can use the same fabric as the curtains but in a different colorway, to add a new dimension to the room, remembering to use these patterns more than once in a room for a good visual appeal. Or you can pick out a color from the drapes and use that as your accent. The most important thing to remember is that you are using fabric to add texture and softness to a room, it also adds color and creativity to the scheme as well as enhancing the style that you have created.

Finally a really good reason to use fabric in a room is that it absorbs sound.

This means that your living room won’t echo when you turn on the stereo if you have soft furnishing in the room.

Don’t believe me?

Then stand in the bathroom, usually a room without soft furnishings, remove any towels etc. and turn on a radio.

Then put some towels back and a bath mat and turn it on again. Notice the difference? (This works best in a room with hard surfaces, ie tiles, timber floor, stone floor etc).
A lot of very hard surfaces, softened with towels and drapery at the windows.

A lot of very hard surfaces, softened with towels and drapery at the windows.

There you go, a great deal of insight into using fabrics when you decorate.

The fifth part of your decorating e-course – How to Choose Fittings and Fixtures

I recommend my Soft Furnishings ebook if you want to learn more about fabrics and soft furnishing and how to use them. Soft Furnishings

For home work you could take a look at

Curtain Accessories

Decorative finishes for fabric

Types of Fabric

Color and Texture

Bye for now

Regards

Lee Brown

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