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Publication Date: 2016-11-15

Design Insights

11 Designers on Their Unique Fabric Combinations

Fabric selection is where many designers start their projects, when color choices and textures combine to create the basis for a room. We asked 11 designers how they selected fabrics for their work, from vividly patterned rooms to muted, serene spaces.


"For this room, we chose the classic color combination of black and white and then played with scale and pattern to create visual interest and whimsy. The fabrics are a combination of updated traditional prints appropriate for this 20th-century carriage home, and when mixed with the contemporary elements of the space, they really appeal to a young, modern family." -- Jen Ziemer, Fiddlehead Design Group

"The goal with the fabrics in this room was to create a sense of layered luxury. I loved the richness of the navy velvet, so that was my starting point. Then I piled in different patterns and textures. Despite the dark sofa I wanted the room to feel bright, so I balanced out the navy with a silvery off-white on the chairs and pillows, and added rusty orange to bring some warmth." -- Laura Stein, Laura Stein Interiors

"This Georgian-style home was loaded with paneled wainscoting and moulding, demanding a very formal dining room. The young couple that inhabits this house is anything but stuffy and formal so we gave this room an edge with bright yellow drapes. The best part is that after looking at very expensive silks for the windows, we discovered that a $15-per-yard cotton poplin was really the right feel for the room. With a playful ruffle edge trim detail, the poplin gave the drapes the body that they needed to show off the ruffle and take the edge off of formality." -- Lisa Frantz, Marks & Frantz

"On this project, the color selection developed as the material palette developed. The rug was chosen early on, based on the family’s active life with kids and a dog. I wanted to pull a darker tone for the sofa, since it gets a lot of everyday use. Knowing that the rug would be such a strong teal, we wanted to repeat that in the artwork and perhaps on some chairs, but not the major upholstery piece. So the mossy green color grew from the goal of layering rich colors, making a color statement without being too bold." -- Kristina Crestin, Kristina Crestin Design, LLC

"We were aiming for a look that was at once masculine but also pretty. The floral sofa was brought in "as is" from our client's previous home, and we used that as a springboard for our choice of fabrics. Since red is the client's favorite color, we chose to emphasize it along with the high-contrast black and yellow, selected to match the client's collection of National Geographic magazines. All in all, we wanted the effect to be bold and dramatic." -- Jim Gauthier, Gauthier~Stacy

"I almost always start with fabric in my design work, since that’s what sets the tone and color palette. In this formal living room, my clients were looking for a cheerful and modern—yet also very comfortable—space. Not only does fabric add color and pattern, but each fabric has a unique texture which adds interest to the overall mix to create a welcoming, livable space." -- Jill Shevlin, Jill Shevlin Design

"The choice of fabrics in the room was initiated by the client’s love of the color purple and her effusive personality. The renovation included the kitchen and first floor, starting with a cooktop hood in deep purple. Adjacent to the kitchen, the family room took direction from the purple hood (which was spray painted at an auto repair shop) and the client’s giraffe photograph. The patterns and textures needed to be durable and forgiving for a young family but still have an amped-up, fun quotient. All the colors and textures work in harmony with each other, as do the scale of patterns with each other." -- Paula Daher, Daher Interior Design

"Our clients for this project were not afraid of color, so we went for it! The saturated colors on the sectional and swivel chairs, plus the pattern found on the pillows and rug, succeeded in creating a family room that really popped. With three active teenagers in the family, we wanted to make sure this space would be popular and have personality for them." -- Dee Elms, Terrat Elms Interior Design

"This client asked for pops of green, drawing inspiration from the location of the home, which is tucked away in the hills. I incorporated natural tones to pull from the outdoors and create a colorful yet timeless feel. The fun prints on the pillows contrast against the neutral furniture pieces and the variety of textures warms the space, making it feel more inviting, especially given the large scale of the home." -- Brooke Wagner, Brooke Wagner Design

"The materials used in this home are derived, as much as possible, from local sources or made of recycled materials in order to minimize its carbon footprint. The use of grass cloth on the walls - a renewable resource - conveys a tropical feel. The palette moves from subtle and muted to daringly bright. The color scheme of green and silver came from the hues of the old oaks that surround the land, enhanced by more tropical vibrant colors. The reimagined Rose Cummings fabric was chosen as a complement for this tropical breakfast nook." -- Phyllis & William Taylor, Taylor & Taylor

"The master bedroom is naturally the most private and intimate space of the home. We wanted the fabrics in this room to be soft to the touch and very approachable—layer upon layer of velvets, chenilles, damasks and woven silk create a tactile experience that is both soothing and relaxing. The bed upholstered in velvet adds a sophisticated warmth to the room, while the textured chenille on the tête à tête adds some depth and pattern while still being soft and inviting. The silk damask on the bedding is soft and light to the touch, and the unexpected and edgy Kelly Wearstler fabric on the benches adds an element of playfulness." -- Tiffany Leblanc, Leblanc Design LLC


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