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Some great information when selecting fabric for your projects

December 21, 2015

By Kelly Rinik

This is helpful when choosing a patterned fabric for your project needs. Use one bold pattern (can be repeated) and the rest either solids or very subtle patterns that won't compete.

Source: New York Institute Of Art and Design Interior Design program

"Aim for suitability of proportion by relating the size of the pattern on an upholstery fabric to the size of the piece of furniture it will cover.

Big pieces of furniture can handle big design motifs. Small pieces of furniture cannot.

Does this mean that you should cover all big pieces of furniture—for example, all big sofas—with upholstery that features large, bold patterns? Absolutely not! It simply means that you can cover big pieces of furniture with such large-patterned fabrics.

On the other hand, you may decide to use a small-patterned or solid-colored upholstery fabric on a big sofa, too. Your choice will depend upon other factors that we’ll discuss in a moment."

2. Scale-
"Aim for suitability of scale by relating the size of the fabric patterns to the size of the room.
Again, the “rules” are pretty obvious. A large room can handle large patterns in the upholstery and the draperies. In fact, by using some large, patterned fabrics in such a large room, you give it the feeling of being smaller and more intimate because everything is in appropriate scale. On the other hand, were you to use only fabrics with itty-bitty patterns in such a large room, the room would appear even bigger by comparison, and would feel barn-like.

Does this mean that in a big room you should use only big-patterned fabrics? No. It means that you can use such fabrics selectively in such a room. In a moment, we’ll discuss how you can decide where to place such fabrics.

The converse is true, too. If big patterns are in better scale in large rooms, then small patterns (and solid colors) are in better scale in small rooms. Were you to use larger, more dynamic patterns in a small room, the room would appear even smaller by comparison, and would feel cramped."

3. Quality-
"Third, be sure that the fabrics you select are suitable in quality to all the other elements in the room.
You certainly don’t want to cheapen the effect of an otherwise elegant interior by saving a few dollars on inferior fabrics. Nor do you want to use an ostentatiously opulent fabric such as silk, when all the other furniture is covered with canvas for a knockabout, casual mood."

How many bold patterns can you have in one room??

"If you stick to just one bold pattern per room, you won't have to worry about the pattern competing with others.

Select one to use the bold pattern on:


If you are enthralled with a strongly patterned rug and want to use it, by all means do so. But don’t introduce other loud patterns into the room that will also scream for attention. They will be distracting and visually chaotic.

Here’s another possibility, If you love a wildly patterned wallpaper and think it would be appropriate for a given job, then go ahead and use the wallpaper as your major bold pattern in the room. But with such a wallpaper, you don’t want to use any other pattern that might compete with the upholstery, draperies, rug, or carpeting.

What about using a boldly patterned fabric on the sofa in a living room? It’s fine too, provided you don’t introduce competition from bold patterns on other pieces of furniture in the room, or on the walls, draperies, or flooring.

Thus, you can see that the basis of this plan is to use one bold pattern for drama and excitement, and then avoid introducing other bold patterns that might compete.
So, now you know where to start. Start by selecting the major patterned fabric you want to use in a room.

And the bold pattern in the rug will limit your choice of patterns in the upholstery, draperies, and wallpaper. Either keep them solid-colored, or use quiet patterns that won’t compete"

A Classic Approach-

A classic approach used by many successful designers is to do the draperies and the major upholstered pieces of furniture in one matching bold-patterned fabric. Then do the rest of the room in simple fabrics—either solid colors or small, non-competing patterns.
This is in line with the general plan of having only one major pattern in a room. We did not say that you could not repeat the same pattern in a few different places. In fact, the use of the same pattern on upholstery and draperies or wallpaper is one of the standards of many professional interior designs.

For example, in Figure 17 you see one possibility. You have used a bold fabric on the draperies and matching fabric on the sofa and the club chairs. Then, you’ve used solid colors in the rest of the room.

This is a safe-and-sound way for you to approach the distribution of pattern within a room. To repeat, do the draperies and a few of the major pieces of furniture in a matching bold-patterned fabric. Then, keep the rest of the decoration quiet. By quiet, we mean either solid-colored or with patterns that are subdued and will not compete for attention.

By following this simple plan, you can easily establish the decoration scheme for any room. An alternative is shown in Figure 18. Here you have used a matching pattern on the wallpaper and the sofa. This too works because you have kept the rest of the decor quiet. In this instance, you might have also used this same pattern on the club chairs, as in 18A, but this is beginning to be too busy. However, It might work, depending upon the actual pattern.
Source- NYIAD