We’ve said it before – choosing fabric can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to antiques. Upholstery can either make your fine 19th century French walnut chaise sing…or suffer. With decades of experience selecting the right fabric for the right antique, we are happy to assist with any upholstery queries you may have and can offer guidance. Read on for our practical advice for choosing the right fabric for your fine antique, and remember – choosing a fabric does not have to be daunting task, but an opportunity to add dimension and character to a space.
Pattern: Pattern choice is arguably the most intimidating aspect of fabric selection for many for a few reasons – patterns do not always age well, what is trending today might look regrettable tomorrow. Larger bolder patterns can pose the most risk, however the right selection can add drama and dimension to a room that may otherwise lack character.
The key to a successful choice here is scale. The scale of the pattern should be in balance with the size of the room and surrounding furniture. Generally large, open spaces can accommodate more pattern. A simple tip for using large pattern in a room is to find a colour that is present in small quantities in the patterned fabric and select a solid colour fabric in that colour. For example you could have a bolder pattern on armchairs or a chaise and use a solid colour on larger pieces like settees to create a cohesive, more luxurious feel to the room. Keep in mind occasional chairs get relatively low wear and tear so it could also be worth considering using a luxury fabric here for the overall impact on the room.
The upholstery options below are our regular choices and are all fabulous in their own right:
Silk is perfect for a look of luxury, as it is a delicate fabric and it flows beautifully, has a lavish lustre that enhance a space. Silks are ideal for living spaces and formal rooms. It is a perfect choice if the space has large windows or doorways in cold climates, however beware Australians…silk and sun do not go well together.
Silk can be used liberally in curtains, bed linen, and cushions. However, there are certain constraints that you must keep in mind when working with silk. It wrinkles very easily and holds onto stains.
Leather is classic, robust and a great choice for dining chairs, armchairs chairs, stools, or sofas. It extremely comfortable and can add an austere, elegant look to a room. If the idea is to impress, trust leather. Leather is fairly easy to care for and maintain. It can be wiped dry, vacuumed, or even cleaned using special leather cleaning products for fuss-free upkeep. This makes it the perfect fabric suggestion when working with families looking for greater convenience. But be careful – not all leather is the same, and without the right finish and quality it can end up looking like grandmas vinyl floor.
A wonderful choice for the warmer climates of Australia. It is light, more accessible, and natural. While it has a more informal look than a silk or velvet, it has a certain casual elegance that makes it a smart choice. It’s versatile too, looks great in children’s bedrooms and common living areas, for bed linen, curtains, and cushions. We love it on a beautiful French 19th century bed, or on a set of dining chairs. It pairs beautifully with wood. For drapery that sees a lot of sunlight, consider a linen mix – this will help stabilise the linen and reduce shrinkage.
Appreciation of velvet ebbs and flows these days but its unrivalled opulence has never gone out of style, making it a great material for upholstering furniture. Its intricate weaving and fine-quality finish have made it a material associated with royalty and the aristocracy for centuries. Velvet can be surprisingly versatile too, dark, rich colours can be used to add warmth to a room, while bright floral designs can be used to make an impact. Velvet is excellent for curtains, decorative chairs, and scatter cushions because of its heavy quality…and yes it can be just as beautiful in a casual room as formal.
Ultimately, in most cases, what really evokes a sense of emotion and makes us feel connected to a living space is what we call the softer accents, that is the fabrics we choose. We have a vast network of suppliers that assist us in offering some of the most beautiful fabrics from all over the world, from hand embroided French silks to Venetian velvets. With some imagination and expert insights and resources, finding the perfect expression you seek for your home or antiques is something not only very achievable, but also an enjoyable process that can inspire creativity.
And some which have already had a new lease on life…
Browse our gallery below for some inspiration, or view our restoration gallery.