THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHOOSING FABRICS FOR YOUR HOME
Having fabric in your home brings multiple benefits. Not only can carefully chosen fabrics transform the look of a room, but they also bring thermal insulation, help to dampen sounds and reduce echo. You can bring fabrics into a room in a variety of ways; through curtains, cushions and upholstered furniture.
Ideally, you want to aim for a variety of fabrics, which co-ordinate with one another well. Fabrics come in all different patterns and colours and, whilst it's great to have this choice, it can be really overwhelming when you set out to buy a selection of fabrics for your home.
High street retailers often display their soft furnishings in room sets, which mean that you can shop a whole 'look' all at one time. However, this can sometimes be a bit 'matchy matchy', which isn't ideal, and it's not great to have a whole room which looks as though it was pulled straight out of a catalogue either.
This leaves us with the option of choosing a set of fabrics ourselves from an enormous range. With so much choice out there, how do you know where to begin? Well, worry not. Follow these pointers to get started:
KNOW YOUR STYLE
When you begin designing a home, you should always start with the end in mind, and the same is true of your fabric choices. Knowing what style you want to create with your fabric selection narrows down the options. There are fabrics out there in all sorts of styles, from country florals to modern geometrics. If you're not sure what your style might be, then have a browse through some images of room sets on Pinterest and ask yourself whether you are drawn to florals, plains, geometrics, paisley, stripes, spots and so on. Pin to your own mood board to gather your ideas. Think also about the textures that will create the feeling you want to achieve: heavy silks and velvets create a sumptuous look, flowing linens and cotton are more relaxed. If you're not sure what your style is, try taking my style quiz below for a few pointers.
COLOUR: BLEND OR POP?
The next consideration is your colour palette. If you want your fabrics to blend into the background, acting as "supporting cast" for your other colours, then choose curtains a shade or two darker than your main room colour, and keep your cushion fabrics a shade or two darker or lighter than the rest of the room. If, on the other hand, you want your fabrics to stand out from the rest of the room, think about choosing colours which sit opposite your main colour on the colour wheel. This brings a pop of colour and will make your fabrics the star of the show.
To a large extent, the pattern of your fabric will be influenced by the style of room that you are creating. Country style rooms lend themselves to florals and spots, coastal schemes to simple ticking stripes, and mid- century modern to geometric shapes. However, try not to stick to just one pattern in a room. A mix of different patterns gives your scheme interest and appeal.
The scale of the pattern should be matched to the scale of the room it's in, and the furniture it covers. Choose large scale patterns for larger rooms and vice versa for small rooms.
Fabric specialists (and some larger high street retailers) stock fabric books, which contain several different fabrics within the same colour way. This gives you variety of patterns, but ensures that the colours work in harmony together. The hard work has been done for you!
If you're going it alone, mixing patterns takes a little practice, but check out this blog post for some tips on how to achieve the look successfully.
Although you might fancy having a sumptuous silk covered couch, if you have a couple of energetic toddlers and a dog who likes to lounge, this isn't going to be a practical choice. For pet-friendly fabrics, more durable solutions are fabrics with a higher thread count (this means more threads per square inch) and tight weaves, so that there is less chance of your furry friends getting their claws in them. Man made fabrics like microfibre, and natural choices like leather work well for families with children as they are durable and easily spot-cleaned.
That said, I have to admit to owning a pair of cream fabric sofas, despite having two children and a lounging dog myself! I think life's too short not to have what you want, so if you really want a fabric that you love, then I say go for it. Train your children not to drink on the sofa, get machine washable slip covers, or hire a steam cleaner once in a while.
Another consideration is your local climate. In cooler climates you may be better choosing wool and felt fabrics, whereas in warmer climates sheer voiles at the windows and fade resistant fabrics will be more appropriate. Don't forget that as the sun shines through a pair of unlined curtains, the colour will also cast light on the room. Blue or green curtains will make the room feel cooler, yellow curtains will make the room feel warmer. Oh how I'd like to have the problem of too much sun!
Although there are some fabulous deals online, never buy a fabric until you have seen it for real. Not until you touch the fabric can you feel the true heft of it, the texture, the exact colour, and the way it moves. Most online retailers allow you to order a few samples for free, but just be aware that exact colours can change from roll to roll. Going to a high street shop can be overwhelming, but they often have access to the biggest range of fabrics. Specialist fabrics retailers are, in my experience, the best and, although they may not have the same range as a high street or online store, they often have very well trained specialists who can help you to make a selection of fabrics.
If you're at the point of choosing fabrics for your home, come and pop into our Facebook group and show us some pictures of the choices you're considering. We'll give you a helping hand :)