A gorgeous printed fabric has the power to completely transform the look of everything in its midst. We all know that one fresh print can enliven a well-loved pair of jeans or act as the perfect foil for a standard black skirt. But it’s easy to overlook the power that a vibrant pattern can have in the home. While we may all aspire to having a great chair upholstered in a boutique fabric or custom-sewn pillows in a perfect suite of complementary fabrics, there are much simpler and less expensive ways to bring energy into a space using fabric.
Before having children, I had the time—and space—for setting up my sewing machine and taking on an involved project. I even took courses in sewing, patternmaking, and draping at Parson’s School of Design in New York. And while I love that I have those skills, at this point in my life, quick and simple projects are all I can handle. With spring in the air, I’m looking to fold some new colors into every space in my home—without breaking out my sewing machine.
Each project I rustled up requires little more than a single beautiful piece of fabric. If you happen to live in a big city—or a small one with great shopping—you have the luxury of going to a specialty fabric store that has quality fabrics beautiful enough to stand on their own. In New York I used to spend hours in the garment district pawing over bolts of cloth at M&J’s. In San Francisco I would climb back and forth between the floors using the tiny stairwells in the old Britex store. In Chicago I hear Fisherman’s Fabrics is the place to go. And if you don’t have access to a fabulous local fabric store, there are plenty of great online resources, best curated by Apartment Therapy in their 2009 round-up.
1. Drawer Liners
In her blog Blue Eyed Yonder, Krista Janos shows step-by-step how to make darling drawer liners from a few yards of great fabric, some fabric stiffener, lavender ironing spray, and double-sided tape. This project isn’t exactly going to transform the look of your whole room, but it will be a simple pleasure for you every time you open your bureau.
2. Nursery Art
This project is so easy, there’s no need for any kind of tutorial. Simply gather several small pieces of fabric that complement one another and cut to fit your frames. Inexpensive frames can be purchased at Ikea, or consider garage-saling for vintage frames that can be painted. We love the way Baby Lifestyles showcases several fabrics in a variety of frames, from sleek and modern to intricately carved and vintage, and unifies the overall look with a couple coats of pure white paint.
3. Textile Art
For a larger textile, mounting your fabric properly is key so the cloth doesn’t slouch over time. We love the way a tribal woven Ikat is framed in this Elle Decor image. The vibrant red and imperfect beauty of the fibers makes a bold, chic statement in an otherwise simple space. The folks at The Nest give step-by-step instructions on how to frame a larger piece of fabric.
A great lampshade wrapped in a striking print can elevate the design of the entire room. The only trouble is that it can be hard to commit to a bold pattern in such a prominent place when it’s expensive to pull off. That’s why this DIY fabric-wrapped lampshade is so perfect. Follow the how-to instructions on Isabella and Max Rooms to create a lamp that’s to your liking. Then, feel free to switch out your textile in a couple years.
5. Window Shades
A custom-printed blind is a great way to make room for a unique design element in the bathroom—especially if it’s small. This DIY project from Lazy Cozy lets you transform an inexpensive roller blind into what looks like a custom-printed blind for next to nothing.
Do you have any tricks for incorporating beautiful fabrics into the design of your home? We’d love to hear about them!