Understanding Fabrics in your Interior Decorating
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Understanding Fabrics in your Interior Decorating

One thing that you will always notice about interior decorating is that designers will often play with a variety of fabrics to create the desired look. This could be a simple tablecloth on a large, impressive looking dining table or it could be a throw draped across the couch. Fabrics are generally used to provide a splash of color or texture to the room and you can use fabrics to pull out the decor you are going for or simply to accent it.

When it comes to fabric, there are many selections to choose from and it may be hard to figure out which one works best for you home.  Not only should you think of the fabrics that are covering pillows and windows, to name a few places, but you should also think about the fabric that is covering the furniture.

The type of fabric that you purchase is very important and it can be the difference of having beautiful lines and a crumpled mess that is filled with holes. Before you choose your fabric, ask yourself some simple questions about the use of the space. Things like:

• What will the space be used for?
• Will it be a high traffic area?
• Will it be used regularly or just when guests come over?
• What type of light does the room have?
• Do you have any pets?
• Do you have any children?

Believe it or not, your answers will deeply affect your fabric choose since you won’t want to use a lot of silk if you have children eating snacks in the room. You also won’t want to place a leather chair in a sunroom. Once you know all the answers, then you can move on to selecting your fabrics.

When it comes to fabrics, there are many different types out there and the combinations are endless but for the purpose of practicality, we are going to look at a 100% fabric and none of the combination fabrics.

Rayon:
Also known to many designers as “art silk,” rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric that is a great alternative to silk. It has a bright shiny texture to it and is a great choice for many homes that is looking for something that is more durable than silk is. The one major drawback of rayon is that it will wrinkle so it is better to use it on a surface that won’t have a lot of people lounging on it.

Silk:
Well, we all know what silk is and it can provide a rich element to any room when you use it for window coverings, pillows or even as an upholstery covering. It has a soft lustre to it and the fibers themselves are actually prism like, which is why the material shines it reflects light at various angles. The main drawback of silk is that it is not very durable. It is prone to wrinkling and it will stain very easily. I would avoid using silk in high traffic areas such as family rooms where people may be munching on popcorn during a movie.

Olefin:
If you want to find a material that is comfortable and functional, then you should choose this synthetic fabric. Olefin is a very common material that is used in furniture since the fabric is durable, holds color and stain resistant. This is the perfect fabric for those high traffic areas and for smaller fabric areas; you can find olefin combined with other fabrics to create beauty and function.

Polyester:
Usually seen in drapes and bed sheets, most people do not use a straight polyester fabric to decorate with, or really at any time. What they do use instead is a polyester blend with a variety of other fabrics. Polyester is a synthetic fibre that is used in a variety of ways and can be found in a large number of textures. It, or a polyester blend, is a good choice for sitting areas since polyester is resistant to wrinkles.

Cotton:
Cotton is a natural fiber that is found in a lot of different blends and fabrics. It is comfortable and breathable, which makes it an excellent fabric to work with. It also has the wonderful traits of being resistant to fading and other signs of wear and tear. The main problem with cotton is that it tends to stain and become soiled very easily. That is why, if you choose to use cotton in your home, you should use a cotton blend instead of a pure cotton.

Acrylic:
Acrylic, also known as Acrylic fiber, is a synthetic fabric that was created as an alternative to wool and it has begun seeing use as an alternative to cashmere. The fabric is surprisingly soft and comfortable and its durability makes it an excellent choice for home decor. Generally, acrylic fabrics hold color extremely well and resist shrinkage, which is excellent when you have to clean some of your fabrics. Acrylic fabric also resists stains and wear and tear. It is also resistant to wrinkles.

Nylon:
Another synthetic fabric, nylon is a resilient fabric that has a silky texture to it. It is usually resistant to stains and it holds color extremely well. Although it is a strong fabric it tends to only be used in blends and not on its own. Since it is a strong and resilient fabric, the uses for nylon, or nylon blends, is practically endless when it comes to your home decor.

Leather:
The last fabric that I am going to look at is leather, which is a natural fabric that is produced by tanning various hides, usually cow but not always. Leather can add a rich element to a home and many people love it but this is not the easiest fabric to have in your home. Leather requires a lot of work and the color can fade if it is placed in direct sunlight. Another problem with leather is that it can become scratched and stained quite easily. Still, it does make a statement wherever you use it and can be an excellent choice for many rooms.

The main thing to remember about fabrics is that you need to pick something that you are comfortable with and ones that fit your lifestyle. You won’t want to use a lot of silks if you have dogs and cats scrambling over them on a daily basis. If you are ever in doubt about a fabric, simply look for an alternative in a fabric blend instead of working with 100% pure fabric.

4 comments

  • Holly January 26, 2009 at 14:18 PM Login to Reply →

    I love useing all of these fabrics, but I will not use silk close to a window as silk can fall apart if exposed to the sun for too long.

  • Eddie January 27, 2009 at 02:51 AM Login to Reply →

    Excellent overview of the pros and cons of the basic fabrics. Thanks for the insight.

  • Room Design January 27, 2009 at 04:49 AM Login to Reply →

    Even before the falling apart begins most silks will fade quickly after sun exposure…

  • Rathna January 28, 2009 at 06:17 AM Login to Reply →

    Actually I am a Fashion designer working with all these materials.Insight of the basic fabrics is Excellent.I think this informations will help more with my work.