Furnishing with Fabrics

Textiles contribute more to the vital character and ultimate beauty of a room than any other element in the decorative scheme

F. L. DE N. SCOTT June 15 1930

Furnishing with Fabrics

Textiles contribute more to the vital character and ultimate beauty of a room than any other element in the decorative scheme

F. L. DE N. SCOTT June 15 1930

Furnishing with Fabrics

Textiles contribute more to the vital character and ultimate beauty of a room than any other element in the decorative scheme


FOR color and charm, for variety and harmony, for distinction in domestic interiors—in a word, for atmosphere, we depend upon decorative textiles. Floors and ceilings and side walls we consider “backgrounds;” accessories, such as lamps, vases, ash trays and bric-abrac in general, we call “contrast notes.” It is the fabric group which really creates and carries out the decorative scheme—furniture coverings, draperies, wall hangings. Textiles contribute more than any other element to the vital character and ultimate beauty of a room.

The keynote in the color scheme is set by the chesterfield. By far the most important piece of furniture and usually the largest, the chesterfield may be considered the chief •point of interest. It ties together the floor covering, the walls and draperies, giving a feeling of harmony and cohesion to the living room. In a room where a great many diverse elements must be assembled, if the cover for the chesterfield combines the colors represented by the carpet, window hangings and odd chair coverings, a feeling of unity, even restfulness, will pervade the room as a whole.

Whenever it is possible to plan the entire furnishing scheme of the room at the outset, it is always advisable to choose the covering for the chesterfield first, then work out the other fabrics from this nucleus. Usually, the chesterfield and one chair will be upholstered or slip-covered in the same material, with one or two chairs in a contrasting but harmonizing material. If there are more than two extra chairs, best results are achieved by considering two of them as a

pair to be covered alike, while others may be “odd”. As a matter of fact, this practice is recommended as it introduces variety and, if well considered, adds charm to the effect. These chairs may be covered in the material used for draperies if it is suitable for hard wear, or entirely different fabrics may be brought in.

When several different fabrics are used in a room, particularly a small room, it is well to observe certain cautions. In the first place, it is necessary that texture and weight of materials be fairly equal. Chintz and velvet would not consort well together; cretonne and damask are strange bedfellows; moiré does not harmonize with mohair chesterfield suites. Then color value comes in. With deep rich colors in the draperies and on the chesterfield, delicate pastel tints would be decidedly out of place. The dark materials would look

ponderous or dowdy; the light ones flippant and ill at ease. Finally, there is design to be considered. One well executed design in full-bodied colors should be chosen as the centre of interest, and other designs should be subordinated to it. Too many designs of equal value and strong appeal make a bewildering room in which inhabitants become restless and nervous. ^ With one striking material it is permissible to use fabrics showing self-toned figures or small squares and lines in unobtrusive colors. Plain colors with contrasting bindings in the

prevailing color scheme blend in well and are in excellent taste.

As a practical illustration of these three points, we can cite the case of a small living room, fourteen by sixteen feet. No less than five materials were used. In this room it was necessary to get variety and interest from the furniture coverings as it was too small to introduce many lamps, bric-a-brac, or the conventional contrast notes. The draperies here illustrated were of drapery mohair in leaf design, featuring beige, green and dark red. Day bed and large “sleepy hollow” armchair were slip-covered in linen, showing green leaves outlined against a beige background. Seat pads and backs of a pair of wicker chairs were made of cretonne in stripe effect with green, beige, red and black. An odd long lounging chair was upholstered in cotton in which the design was carried out in checkerboard squares in beige, red and green. There are cushions in plain linen; green bound with beige; beige bound with red or with green; one,

in coral, made a contrast note. The walls were green with wash effect in wide stripes of beige, coral, violet and yellow. The rug was medium green with darker border. Since there was no chesterfield to give weight, the draperies were made the important feature and set the tempo for the whole scheme.

Fabrics which may be used together in the same room are linen, cretonne, shadow cloth and some other of the cotton weaves which are suitable in weight and design. Dainty patterns, for instance, would be taboo in living or dining rooms. With linen draperies, and one chair, chesterfield and another chair upholstered in shadow cloth, two small chairs covered with a novelty weave and plain linen cushions, the living room would be restful without being monotonous. If richer and more formal treatment is desired, self-toned damask—either pure silk or one of the new synthetic materials—for draperies, moquette for chesterfield and chair, another harmonizing moquette for the odd chair is a possible treatment. With needlepoint which nimble fingers make at home, opulent, almost, sumptuous fabrics fit into the picture. Slub damask draperies, tapestry chesterfield cover two chairs in plainer tapestry or other harmonizing fabric, the needlepoint for two chairs and footstool and a really good rug make a satisfying scheme.

A Wide Range of Materials

CUITABLE fabrics for covering chester*'■' fields are of an extraordinarily varied range, as are drapery fabrics, since the rapid growth and development of those synthetic fabrics having a cellulose base and familiarly known as rayon or celanese. It is highly gratifying that as one searches for the best in these new fabrics, one finds less emphasis placed on importations and greater interest manifested in domestic goods.

Among the season’s popular draperies are the slub reps and slub damasks—so called from the rib-like weave—produced in Canadian factories. These materials have a heavy, close-ribbed appearance with a lustrous sheen. They reflect lights and shadows with charming effects. As draperies they wear well. They are not recommended for upholstery or slipcovers as the threads pull apart when strained; but for pieces which are more decorative than useful—such as those uncomfortable, hard, little heirlooms which many of us prize but do not sit on—

these slubs, as they are called, do make beautiful covers.

Another material, similar in chemical base, is called “duplex cloth,” which is practically art silk in shot effects: coral on one side and gold on the other, for instance. This is another product of Canadian manufacturers, as is the crisp rayon taffeta which we see in a wide range of cool, clear colors. Such a taffeta is used for the bedspread and bolster cover in the bedroom illustrated.

Apropos of the textural achievements in the synthetic group are the sheer “glass curtain” fabrics—voiles, ninons and nets. There is also a chiffon weave. The latter is usually seen in printed effects: the leaf design in blue and rose on white is very popular. These sheer fabrics have assumed a dominant place in the fabric world, for they have long wearing qualities and are easy to launder; in fact, the dirt and grime slide off its somewhat wiry texture so that such curtains do not need frequent laundering. By the very nature of the fabric it does not absorb moisture as cottons do, and can be depended upon to remain comparatively crisp in damp weather.

In this matter of glass curtains, the recent “sun worship” has done much to discredit the former general practice of using sheer curtains next to the glass. But there are some conditions when glass curtains are not only desirable but actually necessary. For privacy they are indispensable; for shutting out unpleasant views such as sombre fire escapes and back alleys, they are invaluable; for softening the harshness of windows where there is a great deal of woodwork we have found nothing else that will serve the purpose.

New “Ensemble” Idea

ONE of the amusing conceits of the drapery world this season is the “ensemble” idea. Sometimes the glass curtains repeat in weave and design, though neutral in color, the drapery material. Draperies are carried out in delicate colors for bedroom qr boudoir use. Draperies, the flounce around the dressing table, the bedspread and chair seats, may be made of the same material in heavy weave while the matching glass curtains in lighter effect are shirred next the window itself.

The other manifestation of the ensemble is usually carried out in cotton of the toile de Jouy type, in which the

lesign in fabric and wall paper is exactly he same. Some of the fabrics, this season, ,re copied from quaint old wall papers. )ne comes in a celanese voile for glass urtains, and in printed taffeta for upholtery. The result is quaint, original, Afferent, and unusual, but it would no loubt prove monotonous if one had to ive with it day after day.

Another room to profit from the develipment of synthetic materials is the lathroom. With rubberized taffetas and waterproof curtainings which are imperious to steam, the lowly bathroom is :oming into unprecedented popularity as L bath-dressing-room. Here, all the real nechanics of the toilet are conducted, hus keeping the bedroom dainty and idy in the manner of a boudoir. Workable dressing tables are made in one :orner of the bathroom, fitted with a date glass top and having a waterproof kirt in a gay color. The waste basket is :overed in the same material with, perîaps, an appliquéd flower from a conrasting color, or a stencilled design may >e used.

Waterproof materials are being com>ined with metal porch and garden urniture which are left out of doors all he time. The water slides off and in an lour or less, after a drenching rain, furni;ure and cushions are usable again. You :an make slip-covers of this admirable abric and use them on wooden or wicker urniture for outdoor use.

Fabrics for summer cottage or weekmd lodge constitute a problem of their >wn. They must be gay and colorful; ;hey must be inexpensive, as we do not ise the place enough to justify a large ixpenditure; they must require little care; ;hey must last another season, or longer.

In the first place, they should be mothjroof. That excludes wool or anything vith animal fibre. Cotton is good. Why lot have the pieces upholstered in cotton n sun-fast unfadeable colors with a ^leasing design? People no longer segregate certain materials into the slip-cover dass. They use-everything now for upholstering, provided that the material is strong and the colors good. There are Canadian chintzes on the market today if sturdy character in a range of colors eminently suitable for such use. Two jr more patterns, if discriminatingly ;hosen, may be used in the same room, incidentally, these Canadian chintzes are reasonable in price.

For glass curtains in this informal atmosphere, nothing exceeds in charm wool-embroidered theatrical gauze in the pastel shades. Some of these may be purchased ready to hang, but many women prefer to do the simple embroidery themselves, working out their own color

schemes and evolving their own original patterns. Since this apparently fragile and sleazy material wears long and well, it is no waste of time to put handwork on it. The threads in the embroidery should be well spaced so that they do not “bunch” when washed. They should be carefully laundered, dipped in very thin starch, and ironed while slightly damp. They look well and last a long time under ordinary conditions.

Wall Hangings Also Have Their Uses

VUE HAVE considered fabrics from ' ’ the purely decorative standpoint, but there are other uses to which they can be put. Heavy tapestries, hung on walls on which the prevailing winds beat and howl, will add considerably to the warmth of the house. This is a custom of long standing in Europe where it was handed down from earlier ages when the household huddled over braziers for warmth on winter nights. It is doubtless a survival of the arras which was used to prevent draughts.

In a room to which we wish to give the illusion of depth, we drape one wall with fabric. This need not be an expensive fabric; the artificial silks with their rich lustre make good backgrounds for furniture and add much to the wall. Drape the material on the wall so that it will fall in graceful folds like window draperies. Put in front of it your most important piece—the chesterfield or a beautiful carved table holding your great-grandmother’s brass candlesticks. The furniture shows up to advantage and the room looks larger. This is an excellent treatment for rooms which seem too small for their furniture as is so often the case when we move from one house to another. It does give a distinct impression of increased depth. At first thought the cost seems prohibitive, but compared with a good rug or chesterfield or even an expensive lamp it no longer seems impossible.

The custom of canopies for beds is valuable for older people who are subject to discomfort from draughts around the head. In houses where the furnace does not send up proper heat to the bedroom, this idea adds greatly to one’s comfort on cold nights.

While strictly speaking not a fabric, leather is being so widely used for furniture covering that it must be grouped with the textiles. It wears well and looks exceedingly smart, but is more at home in clubs or bachelor apartments. It is decidedly masculine in feeling, the only exception being in the library or study where it seems to grow mellow and expansive from association with book bindings.