Textiles bring warmth, ambience and colour to the home, but there are factors to consider before investing in what can be a long-term commitment to some big-ticket items, writes Carol O’Callaghan.
Reupholstering is back in fashion and the way to go if you love the shape of your sofa but have had enough of a clapped-out fabric, and are now in the market to revamp it.
Curtains, which started to be marginalised in favour of blinds and their ease of use, comparative economy, and space-saver quality, are now enjoying a surge in popularity as the cosier option after the snowy winter of 2018.
But if you want quality, made-to-measure curtains, it can be expensive, chronically so, if opting for high-end fabrics and the addition of insulation or even soundproofing. The same goes for upholstery fabric which needs durability as well as style. So, when musing on possibilities, get researching.
Do explore what’s in fashion to start pulling ideas together. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are an easy starting point for what’s new in terms of colour and pattern, or to expand a theme you already have in mind.
Don’t rush into a trend which won’t live beyond a season, unless you happen to love a particular colour or pattern regardless of fashion. Just think about the yellow look right now. Its liveliness and promise of summer are particularly attractive as we slowly move out of winter, but its vividness might not sit so well on chair fabric when hibernating in November.
Do look at the full range of fabric types -- linen, cotton, silk and even faux, and take advice from a reputable fabric shop or an interior design outlet which specialises in fabric solely for domestic use.
This way you’ll get the type of fabric which works best for your purpose.
Don’t be seduced by the look or feel of something which is unlikely to wear well.
Natural fabrics are more expensive, so the ability to clean them successfully and with ease is paramount in most homes, especially high-performance areas, and where sticky-fingered little ones and family pets lurk.
Synthetics, however, can be thrown in the washing machine without fear of violent shrinkage, and they fare well under the press of a warmish iron, but bear in mind for the times we live in, synthetics are essentially plastic.
Do consider the impact textured fabric has on, say, a pair of curtains.
It can make a cheaper, lightweight, off-the-shelf pair look more substantial, and create the illusion of hanging better.
Texture is also one of the main interior themes this year, with a return to high tactility a la 1970.
Don’t be afraid of exploring deep pile fabrics and faux fur throws to sprinkle liberally on beds and fold over armchairs, even adding a touch of fun to the back of a sleek, self-important contemporary sofa.
Natural fabrics are more sustainability-conscious, so think linen and wool, especially chunky cable knits.
The final decision comes down to what works in your space and for your wallet.
Breaking the rules
Do aim to reflect who you are while having the courage to experiment.
Styling trends are freer this season, so think about the non-fabric materials in the room and how they’ll work with your curtains or upholstery of choice.
Combinations of velvet and metal, especially silver and pewter, create a sense of opulence, while cottons and linens used with paler hues of wood add something fresh and natural.
Don’t fall into what is now the outdated technique of pairing and matching everything up. It makes for a flat overall visual and can make the most modern fabrics look dated.
Mix it up
Do you remember the film Along Came Polly, where Ruben, played by Ben Stiller, has a philosophical moment, musing on how much time in our lives we lose for each cushion we have to put on and take off the bed each day?
The reward for all that effort, though, is the transformation of bedlinens, even the entire bedroom, and it can be done affordably and with more pleasure than effort.
Don’t necessarily go out and buy a slew of new cushions when hankering for a change.
Think about moving around what you have in other rooms, and add in just one or two new versions in an on-trend pattern or colourway, much the same way as matching a new handbag to an old favourite pair of boots.
The impact can be transformative.