Jeanene, the fabric queenPublished 7:00am Thursday, June 5, 2014 Updated 9:19am Friday, May 30, 2014
This article first appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of our In Good Company magazine. For more articles visit our In Good Company website.
Article by Jeanene Hoppe photography by Rian Bosse
One of the most exciting days for me at Cullen’s Home Center is when a new shipment of fabric books arrive. Some of my fellow employees make fun of me, but fabric is my thing! I’ve been a designer specializing in window treatments for many years and I never fail to look forward to seeing what the latest fabric designs are.
Coming up with new fabrics is not a quick or easy task. Designers travel all over the world to look at design and color trends before creating new motifs and manufacturing the fabrics. They may be made in China, India, Spain, or even in the US, purchased by mills and then selected by distributors who create sample books for me to show my customers. Perhaps it’s because I know all the effort that has gone into these books that makes me wait for their arrival with so much anticipation. Or perhaps it’s the knowledge that they will help me transform someone’s home.
I appreciate the way the fabric companies make my job easier these days. Instead of having to go through dozens of books looking for the right fabric, many are now booked by color. I just received an orange book, an aqua/turquoise” book, a gray/taupe book, a pink/red book, and a blue book. The new color names sound delicious: honey, citrus, pumpkin, butter, ginger. Some of the others take you away such as evergreen, spruce, twilight, radiant orchid, and saffron. We’re seeing large scale ikats, many small scale geometric coordinates, embroidered botanicals, and soft, watercolor florals. There is an amazing variety that will update an existing room or create a new space.
Although we have a showroom where my customers can come and look through the samples, there is no substitute for seeing them in the home. It seems once we see a fabric in the home, it will either speak to us or die. I like to say that the fabric will tell us what to do with it. A stripe, for instance, may not work well as a drape but will be perfect for the cording around a pillow. Certain fabrics look best flat, perhaps in a cornice, because we would lose the pattern by pleating or gathering it. Grommet top drapes are in, but hard to fabricate in a light weight sheer
Lighting, scale, and style all play a part in fabric selection. Let’s say you’ve already selected neutral carpeting, a dark brown couch and a light textured arm chair for your living room. You have a large window overlooking the lake and you need to cut the glare but privacy is not an issue. I might suggest a screen shade that diffuses the light but that you can still see through in a light neutral, side panels on metal rods in a bold pattern that brings all of the neutral together and ties in with an art piece above the couch. We might make several pillows that match the drapes and another one in a coordinating pattern as well as solids. Texture is important in a neutral scheme, so we could add that through accessories like baskets or pottery.
Does this sound too boring? Well, how about patterned turquoise, cream and brown side panels, and textured turquoise pillows instead? Even a pop of lime green in a small quilted fabric would add punch. We would only be limited by our imagination and our creativity. Sometimes a piece of art will inspire the design and the fabrics will play up the colors in the art. It’s even fun to make older furniture pieces come back to life by using new fabric accents.
You’ve heard the expression that everything old is new again and that holds true for fabric designs as well. I have some old bark cloth textile that I have collected, and I’m seeing the same green, red and pink colors again in the new fabrics. Remember flocked wallcovering? We have a modern gray and orange oval print fabric with a flocked part in the pattern. This is going to be perfect for box pleated valances in a kitchen. Did you have a flame stitch wing back chair 30 years ago? A small scale flame stitch just showed up in multiple colorways including bright orange, red, green and brown. Remember the small indigo prints that your great grandmother wore? Well, blue is in again whether it is cobalt, navy or denim. Sandra Bullock wore a midnight blue dress at the Oscar’s. You’re seeing a trend and the stylists say that blues will grow in importance in 2014 in fashion as well as home furnishings.
I’m not only seeing bright colors, but also neutrals, tending toward the gray tones. One of the loveliest is a sheer with a shimmering silver wave running through it. Yes, sparkle is not just for little girls. Embroidered branches and leaves make lovely side panels that frame the view and bring the outdoors in. Can you imagine a charcoal velvet or a faux fur for some cozy pillows? That’s part of the urban lodge look that’s become popular. Think bling against rustic wood walls.
It’s important to remember that principles of good design hold true for using textiles in a room. Colors have to be distributed, so that our eye flows around a space. Balance one side of the room against the other using lights and darks as well as pattern and color. Give your eye a place to rest, and resist a lot of clutter. Decide what makes you happy whether it is punches of color that say “Wow” when you enter the room, or “Ahhh” because it is soft and restful. Let the patterns take center stage and help you set the mood, then you, and I, will consider your project a success.