Why Choosing Fabrics First Is Best

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By Barbara Kaplan –

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “the fabric of life.”  This refers to the human threads woven together from life’s experiences, which can also define our personal style. Understanding this leads to designing environments that are a holistic reflection of ourselves.

There are so many things to be considered when choosing fabric. Using different types of prints and textures together can make a personal statement. If they are very different, find a common thread to bring them together, such as repeating a color that connects them. Color is used as the magic wand to create continuity and mood in a room. It can make or break a design project. Along with the color on walls and flooring, the color you choose for your fabrics is the most powerful statement in your home.

When I start a new design project, I usually begin with fabric selection. This is a wonderful way to learn my client’s taste. As we choose fabrics, I begin to understand the colors, shapes and textures that please my clients and best expresses their personality and style. This also sets the tone for the rest of the colors and composition of the room. It’s important to always see a large sample of the fabric before making a final selection. Picture it as it relates to the entire room — not just the individual piece.

How do you begin selecting fabrics? First you must consider your lifestyle and the statement you want to make. Are you more casual, sophisticated, dramatic, whimsical…what is the function and style that best suits how you want to live? What mood do you want to achieve? What energizes you and what gives you comfort?  Consider all these questions before selecting fabrics for your furniture and window coverings. Your decisions set the tone for the rest of your environment. Your floors, your walls and fabrics all interact in the same space. So, select the balance between them carefully.

Next, your senses come into play. Do you want texture? How does it look and how does it feel to the touch when you’re sitting on it? Is it inviting and cozy? Some fabrics even make sound when you move. What about pattern? Do you like looking at florals, geometrics or solids? Do the fabrics stimulate your sense of smell and taste? Is there a particular period style of furniture to consider?

Of course, colors are critical! This may be the most important decision you make. Many of us are comfortable picking out colors and others are afraid of color. When choosing colors to live with people often are afraid of making a mistake. Picking out our wardrobe isn’t as large a scale or as permanent, but we can use those choices to help us be more confident making fabric design decisions. Interestingly, the colors we look good in are also the colors we feel good in. So why not surround yourself in those colors. (you can take the quiz on BajaroMethod.com to find out your favorite colors and style, for free).

Practicality and durability enter into your decision, too. You must evaluate the use of the fabric for different rooms and who will be mainly occupying the space.

Most important, live with what you love and don’t be afraid to take a chance if something special appeals to you. Nothing has to be permanent, and should you tire of a choice, it can be changed. You and your feelings are the main consideration. Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!


Barbara Kaplan, IFDA and Allied ASID, is a Phoenix-based Holistic Interior Design consultant and the founder of Barbara’s Picks, an online resource for the best of the best Design and Lifestyle Resources. Visit barbaraspicks.com for more information.


Teaser Photo by ahisgett on Foter.com / CC BY
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