As an interior designer, I have to admit that I have a fabric addiction. Fabrics can be colorful and vibrant, simple and monochromatic, patterned, striped, floral, woven, printed, jacquard, houndstooth - the choices are endless.
Fabric is one of the most powerful tools I use besides my imagination. Even if you reject window treatments, your home will have fabrics on the sofas, chairs, beds, etc. The right fabric can inspire an entire room and evoke an array of emotions. For that reason alone, it is important to pay attention and give value and time to your fabric selections.
Interior designers choose fabrics carefully to subdue, accent, enhance and/or make a design pop. Fabrics are as unique and individual as finely crafted wines, a special piece of art or that family photo that is perfect for that wall.
Finding fine fabric
A variety of places produce fabrics in a vast array of qualities with endless design possibilities. My favorite countries in which to shop for fabrics are Italy, France, England, India and the U.S.
European vendors are known for their bold use of color, patterns and combinations of the two, often pulling from historical events to re-create a modern version. The craftsmanship of hand embroidery from India is so amazing that European fabric vendors will mill the background fabric and send it to India to have the layer of embroidery applied. Vendors and artisans collaborate from various countries to offer the ideal culmination of design and quality.
Who devises all of these patterns, color combinations and prints? I have always had a vision of fabric designers sitting quietly drinking wine and giggling about the names they give their creations (like names of paint colors), but I learned on my visit to a few of the European fabric houses that it is a much more complex process than that. The artisans draw inspiration from the world around them, cleverly churning out patterns that continue to inspire.
Designers sketch the patterns on paper, then artists handcolor the design to convey the intended vision. Once sold, the buyer can choose to follow the artist’s vision on color or restyle it to fit a collection.
New designs continue to come, fresh colors are produced and timeless traditionals are milled to perfection.
Of course, most people think of sofas and chairs when talking about fabrics, but don’t forget the other opportunities to present your own style through the use of fabrics on pillows, draperies, wall coverings, bed coverings, headboards, bean bags, dog beds and more.
When you begin a home project, start with fabrics that inspire you. Draw inspiration from the lines, patterns and colors. Integrate the use of fabrics into your budget from the beginning and watch your space transform.
If you are interested in viewing and handling some lovely fabrics, stop by my studio in downtown Los Altos to see what’s new. If you are fabric-obsessed like me, you may want to make an appointment, because, as I said, the possibilities are endless.
Gina Viscusi Elson, owner of Viscusi Elson Interior Design and Rutt of Los Altos Custom Cabinetry, is an award-winning interior designer with more than 20 years’ experience. Her showroom is located at 147 Main St., Los Altos. For more information, call 941-7800 or visit veinteriordesign.com. n