Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mixing Fabrics in 5 Easy Steps - Part 5

This installment wraps up our short tutorial on coordinating fabrics and patterns. However, we will be posting sample boards based on a few more of your submissions over the next couple of months or so. So follow this blog to see more. Last week we featured several options for Steve's inspiration fabric. This week we turn our attention to Nancy's fabric and how it all comes together.

Nancy's sample board can be used in several ways. You will notice that there are a variety of textures, scales, sheens and patterns as discussed last week in Parts 3 and 4. Nancy can pick one stripe, one plaid, one small pattern, one solid silk for sheen, etc. from the swatches above.

Or the sample board can be divided so the left half is one scheme and the right side is two schemes - one on the top right quarter and one below on the bottom right quarter of the board. Trims and accessories go with all groupings.

If working with the left side, Nancy needs to select one stripe and one of the solid greens - either the quilted silk (for a more formal
look) or the textured velvet (for a more casual feel). Both provide a wonderful tactile quality. The cornice above the solid satin drapery panel on the left is actually covered with a wide wallpaper border (or frieze) that happens to echo the flowers and colors of the inspiration fabric beautifully.

Similarly, Nancy can choose from the fabrics on the bottom half, and even select more than one pattern since all (except the striped lisere) are quite different. 

Once you have decided on your fabrics, plan where they will be used.  Do not use all of one fabric, color, texture, pattern, or sheen in one area of the room. Think in terms of balance in using them.

For example, if your inspiration fabric is a floral used on a sofa and a chair, as in the example below, you might use the same fabric for a couple of pillows to toss on another chair (whether part of that seating group or elsewhere in the room), and/or as a valance for the window treatments.  Then your second fabric (such as a coordinating plaid or stripe ) could be used as a comforter or duvet and for Roman shades and to upholster a chair or cover a table. Your third selection might be a luxurious solid or tone-on-tone fabric that can be used to trim the curtains, make shams for the bed pillows, and to cover a bench at the foot of the bed.

Be sure to consider your walls and floors when selecting fabrics, as they provide additional places and sources of color and patterns. The scale of your furniture should also be considered. The same "rules" outline above can be used. Just substitute a wallpaper for one of the fabrics. Wallpaper can even be your starting point instead of a fabric. And lighter weight fabrics can be used as (removable) wallpaper! These are not hard and fast rules, and exceptions can often be successfully made but this guide is meant to be just that -- a guide to help you build the confidence and skills to create the room of your dreams.

Here are some additional informational and DIY resources you may find helpful:
How to use Fabric as a Wall CoveringFabric wallcovering can be provide a lot of decorating impact for little cost. It is not only easy to apply fabric to your walls with starch, the fabric will be easy to remove (and reuse) and it will not damage the wall. Whether you live in an apartment or dorm and are not allowed to paint or wallpaper or even if you simply like to change your decor frequently or want to cover flawed walls, hanging fabric as a wall covering is the perfect decorating solution.  
Color Your World: How to Choose and Use Color in Your Home
The overwhelming possibilities and thousands of paint chips that confront you in paint stores or your local Home Depot are enough to drive anyone to the safe shades of white and almost-whites. The fear of choosing colors that do not work together, the misconception that matching colors takes some innate ability you don't think you have, and the inability to visualize what colors will actually look like in your room may also contribute to difficulty in deciding on color. Once you understand the basic principles of using color and some professional "tricks" decorators hide up their sleeves, you will have the knowledge and confidence to create a space that enhances your life, conveys the mood you want, and garners a lot of compliments as well.  Top 10 Interior Decorating Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
You don't have to be a professional interior decorator to understand and apply some basic principles of interior design that will help you create a comfortable and functional home with style.Whether you want to rearrange furniture in your living room, update your bedroom decor, create a guest room, shop for a dining room chandelier, or are downsizing or starting from scratch with your first studio apartment, the tips on this page will help you make the choices that are right for you and your lifestyle. 
This DIY Guide shows you how to hang artwork, individual shelves or shelving units, closet organizers, cabinets, curio cases, media storage, speakers, flat screen tvs, kitchen cabinets, heavy mirrors and more. Our guide to hanging items on walls explains how to determine what type of wall you have and the mechanics of hanging items on different types of walls (drywall or sheetrock, plaster, brick and stone, etc.) including what type of tools and hardware you will need to hang everything from family photos to heavy mirrors. You will learn the the basics and some easy-to-do but more advanced options plus we've included tips the pros use, important links for safety information, how-to videos, and much more.
This page dicusses 11 common interior decorating problems and teaches you the tricks interior designers use to correct them with pattern and color. Creating a home decorating magazine-worthy room does not take magic or a lot of money. It is much easier than pulling a rabbit out of a hat and you can do all of these tricks yourself. Whether you have a long narrow room, low ceilings, furniture you want to feature or make less noticeable, or other problems commonly encountered when decorating a space, we've got some easy-to-learn and DIY slight-of-hand secrets the professionals use to fix such things.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mixing Patterns in 5 Easy Steps - Parts 3 and 4

Last week we took a look at several color schemes for each of our two fabrics. This week we will begin choosing fabrics.

In addition to color combinations, you need to consider other factors when selecting coordinating fabrics. One of those factors is the type of fabric. For example, are you looking for drapery or upholstery fabric? The second factor, related to the first, is durability. We covered fabric durability and ratings in previous blog entries that you can go back to read at your leisure, so rather than repeat that here, we'll move on to step 4. Of course, as always, if you have any questions about these topics, please submit them in the comments section.

Your coordinating fabrics should be different in at least one of the following ways in addition to having a color from your main fabric:
  • Texture: Choose fabrics with different textures. For example, Steve's fabric, the blue and yellow French toile, is smooth with a soft sheen, so you might want to look for a fabric that has a velvet or chenille texture, or one with a puckered or matelasse or quilted look.

  • Scale: Patterns should be different sizes. The floral chintz we started with here is a medium  scale, so you would look for a smaller scale (perhaps a plaid, check, or stripe in coordinating colors) and one smaller pattern or a solid. Vary the size of the patterns by including one large, one medium, and one smaller pattern (a small patterned print, or embroidered design) or solid (preferably in a textured finish)
    • Sheen: Use fabrics that have a sheen (and reflect light) to contrast with fabrics that have a flat or matte finish (and absorb light).
    • Patterns: Mix different types of patterns. Steve's inspiration fabric shown has a floral pattern, so look for a geomtric, plaid, or trellis design, a linear toile, and maybe a small print or motif patterned solid. Although the focus is on choosing three fabrics, you can apply them to combinations of four or more if you wish.
    Try mixing different types and styles of fabrics until you find a grouping that you like. Color, scale, and patterns should be pleasantly balanced. It is better to work with actual swatches if they are available, or you can use pictures on your computer, as we did here, or print the pictures in color, cut them, and "play" with them that way.  (Remember, though, colors are not always accurately or uniformly depicted on and across computers.)
    Be sure to keep the patterns as close to scale as possible if you do it the latter way. If fabric is inexpensive, you might want to purchase a yard. This is a great way to really see how fabrics will work and if you are crafty, you can always use any fabrics you decide not to add to the room for another project.

                      Next week...Part 5

    Sunday, November 17, 2013

    Mixing Patterns in 5 Easy Steps - Part 2

    First of all, I want to thank you for all of the submissions for our Designer Sample Board contest! We were overwhelmed by your response and wound up choosing two winners at random. There were so many wonderful fabrics that we will try to post sample boards for more entries when we get to the end of this series as well. For now, congratulations to Nancy of Seattle and Steve of Virginia! Their inspiration pieces will be our examples as we learn to mix patterns and colors.

    I know most of you have selected an inspiration piece and this week we will move on to Step 2. In step two we will begin to select coordinates by colors. Be sure to consider the colors of your walls and floor, woodwork and existing furnishings if you are not changing those.

    The swatch on the left was submitted by Nancy in Seattle. It has a chenille background with tapestry florals. She has a sofa and one chair upholstered in this fabric and has 2 yards left over. The walls are ivory with oak woodwork. 

    Nancy is off to a great start. The warm yellow undertone in the ivory painted walls and the oak stained woodwork work perfectly with this fabric. However, Nancy wants to make the room more interesting and cozier. Plus she needs window treatments, has to reupholster a chair and ottoman, and some artwork and lighting to the room.
    STEP 2
    Choose two or more additional fabrics that each have one of the colors from your inspiration fabric.
    Vary the lightness and darkness of the colors in the fabrics. Using the above floral as an example, you might choose a deep burgundy, a toasty bronze gold, a medium to light green tone, and a rich cream (top row below). To take the color scheme lighter, go with the lighter rose color, a golden yellow, and a darker green for accents (second row). Or, mix and match tones depending on your tastes and what is available.

    Next we have a photo of a window treatment from Steve's guest room in his Virginia home. He's going for a combination Victorian and French Chateau look, as he describes it. Let's see what step 2 looks like with Steve's classic floral toile as our inspiration piece.
    We can stick to the Blue-White-Yellow color scheme shown here, or introduce another color. Either way, here are some color swatches for coordinating fabrics for this beautiful toile chintz. We added few shades of green, but you might choose a different color, such as lavender or rose.

    Play with the colors in your inspiration piece. Make color swatches larger and smaller to see how they look in different proportions. Most of all, relax and have fun. Remember how excited you were when you got your first big box of crayola crayons? Approach this project with the same sense of play an enthusiasm and you'll be on the right track.  If you don't find a color scheme that you love with your inspiration piece, you might want to go back and choose a different one. This week's task is to get a general idea of what colors you want to work with. Next week we will look at what to look for in coordinates besides color.

    To be continued....

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Mixing Patterns Victorian Style in 5 Easy Steps - Part 1: Introduction

    One of the hallmarks of Victorian decor is a mixture of patterns. Most DIY-ers find this the most difficult aspect of Victorian interior design. However, it is really a lot easier than you would think. Just follow these four easy steps and you'll be able to pull off a coordinated designer look for Victorian and any other style of decorating.  So relax and have fun. We're here to help you enjoy the process. PLUS submit your photo (details below) and

    You Can Win a FREE professional 
    interior designer sample board 
    Valued at $500
    specifically suited to your needs*

     Step 1
    is the most important. Choose a great inspiration piece.
    Begin by choosing a fabric, rug or wallcovering in a pattern or color you love. Names to look for include Brunschwig & Fils, Clarence House, Schumacher, Scalamandre, Stroheim & Romann, Lee Jofa or other premier design houses. Try to find a design or pattern in at least three colors, such as one of the fabrics shown on the left. If you are decorating in period Victorian style, aim for an inspiration piece with four or five colors.

    Your choice should be a design in colors you like. Coordinating fabrics and even ready-made items and wallpapers that go with them are available, but the result can be boring or too "matchy" to look right. You will get better results if you customize the mix so it is uniquely suited to you and your home. This also means you can use that one-of-a-kind vintage remnant or the Persian rug that's been in your family forever as your inspiration.

    *So here's your homework assignment: Find your inspiration piece. Send us a photo (jpeg) and we will use two or more of submitted photos over the next few installments to illustrate our steps. That means, at least two of our readers will wind up with custom sample boards they can use to create the coordinated room of their dreams. (See details below.)

    IMPORTANT DETAILS: Entry must include your name (we will only use your first name), email address (just for verification - will not be made public or used for any other purposes) how much of the sample product you have (e.g. size of rug, wallpaper for an entire room or one wall only, fabric length and width), your style or period of decor, the size of the room, and any other relevant information and photos (e.g. favorite colors, item you have that you must use without reupholstering, etc.).

    The fine type: By submitting your original photo you are granting us permission to use it as we see fit. Please do not submit photos that may be copyrighted by someone else with one exception: You may select a fabric from for this contest. Photos must be received by November 15th, 2013. SUBMIT photos and information to The subject line should read "Sample Board Contest Entry."

    Still having trouble finding an inspiration piece? Send us a photo of your favorite print dress or shirt and we'll take it from there. 

    Thank you and Good Luck!

    New Rare Interior Decorating Fabrics - Get 1st Dibs and $ave

    New Gothic, Victorian, Arts & Crafts, Aesthetic, Eastlake, Art Nouveau Fabrics just arrived at Restoration Fabrics and Trims! A treasure trove including many new vintage OAK fabrics. Some heavy enough for carpeting, others rare old discontinued finds. All offered at less than wholesale. Mention you saw this post and we'll refund $10 on any purchase of 2 yards or more fabrics or trims.