Choosing the Perfect Fabric, Every Time – Club Sally

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Guest Post by: Mary Clair Cumbaa of Cumbaa Design

Selecting the perfect fabric in a world of infinite textile possibilities can be a bit overwhelming at times. Fabric can go virtually anywhere in a space, so it’s sometimes difficult to determine what pattern, texture, and color to choose when designing a space. More importantly, you must remember the uses that each type of fabric is designed for. 

Selecting good quality textiles should definitely be viewed as an investment for the home, especially when purchasing custom-made items. Fabrics in the home should be designed to last, not fade or tear, but oftentimes people forget where to use different fabrics in order to maintain their quality. Here are a few tips on where to use these commonly known fabrics.

Linen is a great way to incorporate a small amount of texture and a light feel to a space. It can be used almost anywhere as upholstery, curtains, pillows, or bedding. I personally love how linen can be used lined or unlined as curtains, allowing natural light into a space without destroying the material. This is why linen is seen in spaces with ample amounts of sunlight. It is a comfortable, soft material that only gets better with time the more it is lived-in.

Linen fabric

Silk is a wonderful fabric to create a formal atmosphere or to use on pieces that are not used all of the time. Silk has a beautiful sheen created by silkworms, and can come in a variety of color and patterns. Silk can also be woven in with different types of fibers, but you must remember to use a good interlining with placing silk on the windows so that the sun will not fade it. Silk is most commonly used on window treatments and on pillows.

Silk Fabric

Velvet is a great fabric to use on pillows when you want to add a little depth to the space. It is both beautiful and comfortable, and can really be dressed up or down. Velvet is often used for upholstery, pillows, or window treatments when lined well to prevent fading! Although it is used for upholstery, it’s best to use velvet on pieces that are not heavily used. Upholstering 2 smaller chairs in a room can give off the same luxurious effect as if a large sofa was upholstered in this material. Velvet can last a very long time when used properly. It is a heavy fabric that provides warmth, which is why many velvet blankets are used in the cooler months.  

Velvet fabric

Although leather isn’t technically a fabric, it is a great material for heavy-use upholstery, such as sofas. Leather is used in the same way fabrics are used and it’s important to remember to moisturize it with a good leather conditioner to prevent drying out or cracking. Leather furniture is definitely an investment, but will last a lifetime if cared for properly. Try and avoid putting leather furniture in a room with direct sunlight or next to the air conditioner, because this will harm the leather and cause it to dry out more quickly.


When to use pattern and texture
When using a patterned fabric, it’s important to consider other elements in the space. It’s easy to remember rugs and wall colors, but you must also consider what artwork and lighting will be used in the space as well. Artwork, whether it be how a combination of prints are arranged or the subject of the art, is oftentimes forgotten when considering using a busy patterned fabric. When mixing patterns, you must keep a consistent color throughout in order for the space to maintain balance.

Aside from the color, pattern, and make-up of a fabric, looking at the texture of it is just as important. Texture in fabrics really makes or breaks the collectiveness and feel of a space. Personally, I think this is one of the most common mistakes that people make when attempting to decorate a space. Without layers of texture through fabrics in a space, the area will feel boring or flat, no matter how many colors or patterns are going on. Layers of texture combined with different fabrics create a feel of comfort in a home. If you don’t like lots of color or pattern, mixing different layers of solid but textured fabric can keep the space interesting and comfortable.

I recently visited the Southern Living Idea Home in Mt. Laurel, Alabama and was very inspired by the living room designed by Mark Sikes. I was immediately drawn to this room because of how comfortable I felt in the space. This room is a wonderful example of how layers of fabric create a collected and complete space. Fabrics with different textures and patterns are used on the wallpaper, curtains, sofas, chairs, pillows, and in the bookshelves. Layers of rugs are also used with subtle patterns yet creating a large impact. All of the different fabrics used throughout the space maintain a consistent warm camel and cream color scheme, which is why the space works with multiple patterns going on at once.

Southern Living

When thinking about selecting the perfect fabric for every space, first remember its durability and functionality. Then, think about pattern and color, and use a consistent color throughout each fabric used. Also remember texture, and don’t be afraid to layer different textures in all areas of the space! With these tips in mind, you can’t go wrong with choosing the perfect fabric, every time.

Image Credits: Mary Clair Cumbaa "Design It" Pinterest Board


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