Saturday, February 1, 2014

IR: What most of us don't know about fabric could fill a library. But don't despair, there are some basic guidelines that we use in our work on an everyday basis. A little knowledge we can impart, that is of great use in our everyday decorating decisions.

There are many options when it comes to choosing the perfect material, such as texture, woven or knit, weight, rub count (essential for upholstery), and many other aspects in synthetic and natural fabrics alike. These are just a few ways that we make fabric decisions here at Mignonne. For instance, we must decide on solids or patterns, as this decision is a good jumping off point for the remainder of our aesthetic choices. A few basic choices about patterns, solids and more is what I'd like to talk about today...  

There are many things to consider when styling with fabric. Some of the most important of these being the size of the space, the already existing aspects, and the atmosphere you'd like to achieve. For instance, a heavy load of pattern in a room will inevitably make a the space feel smaller, however a room with all solids and no texture variation, can feel cold.

When it comes to color, pop colors look better in large patterns or solids, whereas busy patterns, and lots of them, look better in softer neutrals like darks and pastels.

The 'BLACK ON BLACK' chair is an example of the use of small patterns. Upholstered in a small black herringbone pattern, which accents the shape of the chair while not overwhelming the design, this chair can act as a solid, while adding dimension!

Large patterns, on the other hand, are a versatile look when reupholstering a single piece of furniture, while still trying to influence the look of an entire room. Because of the bold look of large patterned upholstery, it can be a great solution to both an over patterned room or a room with too much solid.

The image above is of a client piece we did recently, you can see how great it looks with our 'BLACK ON BLACK' chair at the top, because their patterns won't compete. This mid century chair in a robins egg lattice pattern would perfectly accent a room with solids in most color schemes, but could just as easily live amongst other pattens. 

Above you can see how Emerald Green Interiors,, styled their large floral upholstery on a muted solid grey wall, with a complimentary solid orange throw blanket. It really makes that floral look smart, doesn't it?

And in a similar but more bohemian fashion, this patchwork couch seen on is an awesome example of how many patterns can go together when in a neutral setting, like when offset by solids.

Too many patterns can date a look, a busy look is generally associated with a stuffy, overly frilly decor. This is because to the eye, patterns can fill up a room, and this make any space look smaller. And in a small room too much pattern may even make the walls feel like their falling in on you. But don't be afraid of mixing patterns, it's fun and can make a room look modern, eclectic, and uniquely yours! It's not like styling an outfit, you have a whole room to work with with, levels, and layers and multiple surfaces. Mixing smaller quieter patterns, with bold bright, and larger patterns, can lighten the stuffy feel of a room, while still giving it a cozy warm atmosphere that a lot of pattern gives. 

This bedroom by Max Rollitt,, is heavy on pattern. What makes it all so cohesive is the variation, and the subtle solids that make the beautiful patterns pop!

Not big into patterns? Too many solids can look staged and boring, even cold and uninviting. Sometimes, for those of us who are afraid of patterns (don't worry you're not alone) we can end up with a room that looks like a doctors office waiting room, and that's just no good. Always a fan of bold large prints, I will again suggest this to bring life into the room. While in a room with too many patterns, a large print can add variety and modernize the space. On the flip side, a chair with a large vintage Ikat or Kilim, or even a Mexican serape upholstery in a room dominated by solids, can add the necessary hook. Just make sure to pick a pattern you're absolutely in love with because it will be the feature of the room. 

That brings me to the advantage of using vintage fabrics, especially in combination with contemporary styles. With you, we can create a piece that's one of a kind with vintage fabric, as well as add unique dimension to any atmosphere. In upholstering with remnants and recovered fabrics you're also making use of a material that's lost its home, repurposing and reusing, which is good for the environment, and perfect for achieving a stylish contemporary decor. There are so many patterns of yesteryear that are being imitated in textile design today, but there's just nothing like the real thing. Not to mention the differences in quality and color schemes. We have victorian, mid century modern, ethnic and indigenous designs, as well as much more of unmatchable style!

There are a plethora of wonderful solids and patterns by the yard in just about any material you could desire here in our Fabric Room at Mignonne, as well as our artfully curated collection of vintage textiles recovered from garments, upholstered pieces and more, that we can offer you for your next upholstery project with us!

Our growing team is here to help you with all your upholstery choices, come down and talk to someone at 2447 San Pablo Ave. and Dwight Way, Berkeley, Ca 94702, or shoot us an email at

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