Insider Solutions

Why Choosing Fabrics First is Important

I'm sure you've heard the expression "the fabric of life." This refers to the human threads woven together from life's experience, which in turn define our personal style. Understanding this leads to designing environments that express who we are.

Where and how do you begin selecting fabrics? How do you know what you want to live with? What mood do you want to achieve? What energizes you and gives you comfort? You should answer all these questions before selecting fabrics for your furniture and windows. Your decisions set the tone for the rest of your project. Your floors, your walls and fabrics all live together in the same space. So select the balance between them carefully.

Next, your senses come into play. Do you want texture? How does it feel to the touch when you're sitting on it? Does it feel inviting and cozy? How does it look? Fabrics even make sounds when you move on them. What about pattern? Do you like looking at floral or geometric or stripes or solids? Is there a particular period? Should it be traditional, contemporary, eclectic or Southwestern? Do the fabrics stimulate your sense of smell and taste?

Of course color can't be forgotten. This may be the most important decision you make. Most of us have a fairly clear picture about color, because we think about it when we buy clothes. The colors we look good in are also the colors we feel good in. So why not surround yourself in those colors that make you look and feel good.

Practicality enters into your decision, too. You must evaluate the use of the fabric. Will it be used for sitting upon or will it only be looked at because it's a window covering? Will the sunlight beat on it or will it be in shade? Always think about where the fabric is being used and the function of the upholstered piece or the window it's going to cover.

There are so many things to be considered when choosing fabric. Using different types of prints and textures can make a personal statement. If they are very different, find a common thread to bring it all together, such as repeating a color that runs throughout. Color so often is used as the magic wand to create many things in a room, such as continuity and mood. It can make or break a design project. Along with the color on walls and flooring, the color you choose for your fabrics is the most powerful statement in your home.

When I start a new project, I usually begin with the selection of fabric. This is a wonderful way to learn my client's taste. As we choose fabrics, I begin to understand the colors, shapes and textures that give my clients comfort. This sets the tone for the colors and style of the room. It's important to always see a large sample of the fabric before making a selection. Then picture it as it relates to the entire room - not just the piece on which it is going. Any fabric can be made to work as long as you love looking at it and it makes you feel good.

Don't be afraid to take a chance if something special appeals to you. Nothing is permanent, and should you tire of a choice, it can be changed. You and your feelings are the main consideration. Remember, rooms have no feelings - you do!

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