Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Making Fabrics Work for You

Color, as we have learned 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.

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.

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, too heavy 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.

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.

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.

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! 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).

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