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Featuring classic patterns, dynamic modern designs and a mix of materials, wallpaper -which dates back to Egyptian and Roman wall paintings – is back.

Wall coverings in homes emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages, when the upper classes used intricate and decorative tapestries as décor and to minimize drafts.

The use of wall coverings boomed during the Renaissance with beautifully woven fabrics used as decoration on walls, tables and doorways.

Around this time, paper was introduced as a less expensive, more practical alternative to fabrics and tapestries.

This classic pattern – Antonelli Damask by Thibaut – lends a pop of color and a traditional touch to a marble-clad bathroom.

This classic pattern – Antonelli Damask by Thibaut – lends a pop of color and a traditional touch to a marble-clad bathroom.

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The Key To Good Design: Find a Fabric You Love!

On October 5, 2012, in Posts, by Warren Sheets

I’m often asked, “How do you design a room”? or “How do you begin the design process? It seems so difficult!”

It’s really quite simple.

The style of the fabrics is vital to determining the design of the room


I begin by finding a “key” fabric I love. I determine if the design theme will be contemporary or traditional, and then work carefully with the fabric’s style and color palette. In essence the “key” fabric becomes the driving force and foundation behind the room’s overall design.

If the fabric is a solid color, I will find other fabrics – solids or patterns – that are complementary, creating a comprehensive color palette that includes two cool colors and one warm color or vice versa. Next, I locate a neutral colored fabric, so I am working with at least three colors and one neutral.

The style of the fabrics I select is vital to determining the design of the room – and whether it will ultimately be contemporary, traditional or transitional.

Begin the design process by finding a key fabric you love

Once the color scheme as a whole is settled, I begin to assemble other complementary fabrics – with an ideal selection of at least three dozen or more fabrics from which to choose. After I have finalized the fabrics, I lay the swatches on a white (so not to confuse or prejudice the coloration for the room) table or large white poster board.

With my color and fabric swatches chosen, it’s time to assign the fabrics to the various furnishings, draperies and other room elements. I write on the back of each fabric swatch clearly identifying where in the room it will be used, avoiding too many of one specific pattern. I like having a nearly equal number of solids, florals, plaids and stripes avoiding an abundance of one particular style.

Now I can bring in wall coverings and carpeting that round out the fabrics I have chosen. Next I am ready to select the various furnishings. Slowly but steadily, the room comes beautifully together.

The lobby at the Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, California

Throughout the design process, I try to avoid frequent starts and stops, so I can maintain the momentum and excitement that comes with designing a space.

When everything is in its place, I fine tune the process by stepping back and looking at each finish, each furnishing and each detail with a critical eye, visualizing where it will lie in relation to everything else in the room. However, whatever finessing or changes I make at this point, I always keep the original foundation fabric in my mind.

And that brings me back to my original point: Choosing a core fabric that you simply love will ideally evoke your personality – and set the entire tone for your design scheme.



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