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Using Chenille in Home Design

Updated on February 11, 2011

I recently wrote an article here on HubPages about ten terrific textiles that are regularly used in home design. One of those textiles was chenille, a great fabric home décor item that is worthy of a hub all its own. This is a guide to the use of chenille in any home.

Chenille is a Fabric Meant to be Touched

There are some fabrics in the home that are designed to simply be enjoyed for the way that they look. Damask and brocade are two great examples because they have a terrific three-dimensional effect that is luxurious to look at. Chenille is also lovely to look at of course. But chenille is more than just a fabric to be enjoyed by the eyes. It is a fabric that begs to be touched. The feel of chenille is similar to the feel of velvet. As soon as you touch it, you want to touch it again. For that reason chenille tends to be used in areas of home décor that are likely to be touched, like the upholstery of your furniture or the rugs that you walk on.

What Exactly is Chenille?

Chenille is a type of yarn fabric that is made in a certain manner that sets it apart from other types of yarn such as wool yarn or mohair yarn. The way that the yarn is cut creates a certain kind of softness that results in the touch-ability that chenille is known for. The way that it is cut also creates a unique effect in which the fibers of the yarn alter depending on the way that the light is hitting them. This means that chenille has the potential to appear iridescent, making it a really lovely fabric for the home.

Chenille in Granny Chic Décor

Perhaps you haven’t heard the term yet but granny chic is a style of décor that has made a huge comeback in many homes. You have probably seen it around or even implemented it in your own home design although you may not know it by name. It essentially refers to the act of updating vintage items (the kind “granny” used) with modern style for a great vintage look in the home. It is characterized primarily by handmade items like crochet but also incorporates a lot of vintage fabrics and designs.

Chenille is a perfect example of a fabric that works well for granny chic style. Chenille has its roots in home design back in the 1920’s when the fabric was commonly used for bedding. Hand-tufted chenille bedspreads were common during this era. By the 1930’s chenille was also used throughout the home for throws, mats and even carpets. Chenille items that are used in the home today hint at this era when the items were so popular adding instant vintage appeal to the house that they are in.

Granny chic style differs from specific vintage style in that it aims for a modern look. Some of the best ways to modernize the chenille items that you select for your home include:

o Add one great chenille item to a modern set of items in the home. This makes a statement without overdoing the vintage appeal of the fabric.

o Use a modern design for chenille upholstery. This gives you the retro vibe without the retro aesthetics of truly old-fashioned chenille.

o Use black accent pieces in the room. This will modernize the space regardless of the chenille items that you select.

Popular Items for Chenille

Chenille is a versatile fabric that can actually be used throughout the home nearly anywhere that you’d like to see it used. However, there are some items where it is more commonly used than others. Popular chenille items include:

o Bedspreads, blankets and throws. These are items that regularly touch the skin and are therefore perfect items to be made using chenille fabric. They will add beauty to the design of the home since they will change appearance as the light hits them. More importantly, they will make you feel fancy every time you feel them touch you!

o Rugs. Chenille rugs are gorgeous and luxurious. They feel rich even though they do not have to be expensive items. These are the kind of rugs you want to sprawl out on in front of a fireplace or with a good book. They are rugs that you want to walk on with your shoes off and your bare feet soaking up the pleasurable texture of the chenille fabric. Most people who have chenille on their floors have small area rugs in one or more rooms. However, it is possible to get whole-room floor coverings in chenille as well if you want to make an investment.

o Chairs, chaise lounges and sofas. Chenille makes a lovely fabric for upholstery on your furniture. It is especially great to use to re-upholster vintage furniture but it is possible to purchase chenille furniture that is made brand new today. The soft feel of the chenille is a pleasure for anyone who sits on a furniture item that is made from this fabric. Do be aware that it isn’t easy to clean stains off of chenille fabric, though, so you’ll want to limit the use of this furniture in homes with children and pets.

o Pillows. A nice way to add chenille to your furniture without risking that your large home items will be ruined by spills is to use pillows upholstered in chenille to enhance the beauty of your chairs and sofas. Chenille pillows can be patterned or solid in color and make a terrific addition to nearly any style of home furnishings.

Do you have any chenille in your home? Tell me about it!


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