How Interior Designers Mix Fabrics

Almost every interior design project involves the selection of fabrics. There are so many choices, especially when dealing with designer fabrics. Once the types of fabrics are narrowed down based on usage and durability, it is time to select fabrics that work well together.
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Whether it is the fabric for a custom window treatment, a custom furniture piece, or a group of fabrics to be used for custom bedding, pillows, benches, or other upholstered items, most rooms involve numerous fabric selections.
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Fabric selection looks easy on the surface. Looking for fabrics that you like the best and trying to match the colors as closely as possible seems simple enough. However, this is not the method that professional designers use when selecting fabrics. This is because it frequently leads to lackluster results and leaves you wondering what you’ve done wrong.

The truth is, selecting and mixing fabrics for a space or an entire home is not easy and involves a lot more than choosing patterns that are pleasing and matching colors. So take the pressure off yourself. This is not something that you should be able to do without a thorough knowledge of scale, an eye for proportion, experience in knowing which patterns mix well together, and an ability to visualize the entire space all put together.

For instance, in order to get the desired results, remember that not every fabric can be the star of the show.

When interior designers select fabrics, they are looking at the entire room put together and how one pattern plays off of various other elements in the space, while also balancing how patterns play off each other. One pattern might be the star of the show when it comes to the overall room, but in order for that to work, you need other patterns and colors that support the focus on that star pattern. Supporting fabrics looked at individually might seem a little more simple. They might be a solid, geometric, or a scaled pattern that complements the star pattern.

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It is very easy to look at these fabrics individually and think about picking something prettier or more exciting when viewed individually. However, without all of the supporting fabrics, the room gets unbalanced. The colors are not distributed equally and the star pattern is not the focus.

As an example of how I approach these types of projects, I might choose a large print pattern for the “star” pattern of my room. The secondary fabric could be a solid color with some texture and a small dotted repeat pattern. Focusing on the secondary fabric individually, it might not be as exciting as the star fabric, but it’s not supposed to be. This fabric might be selected to play off a pattern of a lamp base or another design element that is focused on the room bringing continuity to the textures, as well as complementing the star fabric. This fabric has a supporting role in the overall production of the room.

So, there’s more going on than meets the eye in selecting fabrics. Everything must be looked at together. Professional designers can visualize this very easily as they are creating spaces. When this is done well, magic happens in a space; architectural elements, hard surface selections, fabric selections, and furnishing selections all work well together and complement each other in a harmonious way.

Until Next Time,

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