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Tips for Decorating Your Home with Fabric

Updated on October 29, 2018
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Linda is a seasoned writer and bedroom authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

Designers agree that fabrics create the personality of a room. They provide texture and visual appeal that complement the other elements such as paint, wallpaper and decorative accessories. Using fabric to decorate a room is a fun way to add color, pattern and depth. Fabrics soften the hard edges and add a finished look. Use them in any room and on any budget. Follow these guidelines for decorating with fabric to make your house a home.

Fabrics gives you unlimited options to bring color and texture into a space.
Fabrics gives you unlimited options to bring color and texture into a space. | Source

Pick Fabrics Over Paint Colors First

As with the chicken and the egg, many of us aren't sure whether fabric or paint colors come first when it comes to decorating a room. Fabrics can be considered the first layer of design when it comes to decorating your home following paint and flooring. If you are a fabric junkie you're naturally inclined to use your favorite fabric as color inspiration. Begin with a clean slate by selecting fabrics then picking a paint color that coordinates with the textiles.

Which Fabric to Choose?

You obviously wouldn’t want to use a chiffon or charmeuse as upholstery fabric. You should look for fabrics that stand up to daily wear, resist fading and are easy to spot clean. While certain apparel fabrics can be used in the home it is best to stick with home decorator fabrics specifically manufactured for that application. Let's consider these fabric types for use in your home.


If you are looking for a comfortable, durable and functional fabric think about polyester. Microfiber is the perfect example of a polyester fabric used in the home. The identifiable feature of this synthetic is the extremely small diameter of individual fiber strands. Microfiber is commonly produced from polyester and nylon resulting in a lightweight, comfortable and durable fabric that resists wrinkles and stains.



A natural fabric that has been cherished for centuries, silk offers richness and elegance to any room in your house. Be aware that natural light can dry out the fibers causing them to break down over time. It is a popular fabric for window coverings and will hold up well if it is out of direct sun and properly lined.

Tafetta and Dupioni are used in home decorating to impart a luster and depth that man-made fabrics simply cannot match. Silk is not the best fabric for upholstery due to its delicate nature but can be used for throw pillows in living areas and for comforters and shams in the bedroom.



Acrylic is a synthetic fiber that is known for its soft hand and wool-like texture. Acrylic fabric is resistant to sunlight, does not shrink and retains color, making it a perfect choice for home decorating. It can have a woven appearance or fiber loops that add to its softness. Chenille is a common acrylic fabric that is used for upholstery, bedding, slipcovers and decorative pillows.



Linen is another natural fiber popular with interior designers. If you don’t mind wrinkles linen can be used as an upholstery fabric and for curtains, pillows and bedding. Reduce wrinkles by choosing a linen/synthetic blend. Just be aware that this fabric stains easily and must be professionally cleaned. High quality linen is extremely strong and durable that can hold up to years of use. Linen is light and airy and looks good in a wide variety of interior styles.



Cotton, a perennial favorite in home decor, comes in various weaves, weights and styles. This comfortable, breathable fabric runs the gamut from polished chintz in English Country design to durable twills and canvases in suburban family homes. If you are concerned about stains look for a cotton blend or have your cotton upholstery treated with a stain guard.


Picking Colors and Patterns

Fabric pattern and color selection strikes fear in even the most seasoned decorators. Fabric choice is one of the most highly subjective decisions you can make when coming up with your room’s design direction. The best advice is to go with your first instinct.

Pick a favorite fabric and stick with it. Study its predominate colors, varying intensities and scale of the pattern. Next, choose two or three secondary fabrics with different pattern styles and sizes. The only rule is to make sure your color story remains consistent. In addition to a mix of color and pattern inject several textures to create visual interest.


Common Uses for Decorator Fabrics


When choosing fabrics for curtains and drapes it’s a good idea to take a sample and hold it up to the window in your room. Pleat it at the top to see how it hangs and folds. You can also see how it looks against the walls, floors and upholstered pieces. Use a large fabric sample of at least two yards to envision what a full curtain panelwill look like in the room.



Selecting upholstery fabric should be based on how often the furniture is used. If your kids and pets rule the roost go with sturdy woven fabrics like chenille, cotton twill or denim. Another good idea is to purchase slipcovers in the same or varying color or pattern to extend the life of your furniture once the original fabric begins to show signs of wear. Save the silks and velvets for the formal sitting room or seldom-used guest rooms.



Throw pillows can literally change the look of a room. They are a super way to give your room an inexpensive update or seasonal transition. If you are conservative with your window and floor coverings or paint and upholstery choices, pillows can become the wow factor in your room. Be daring and choose fabrics you wouldn’t normally think to incorporate into your room’s decor. It’s a great way to experiment with color and texture.


Wall Coverings

This isn’t a common use but using fabrics to cover walls and ceilings is a long held practice in many countries and cultures. Besides it is a fun departure from wallpaper and paint. Wide home decorator fabric lends itself to cover a wall. Start with an accent wall in any room in your house.

You’ll be amazed how fabric visually and literally warms up a room. Lightweight fabrics work best for wall coverings if you apply them using the starch method, which is similar to wallpaper application. Weightier fabrics can be installed over a layer of batting to create dimension. Staple the fabric into strips of luan and attach along the ceiling and base molding.

Transform a bland painted wall into a trendy focal point with designer fabric.
Transform a bland painted wall into a trendy focal point with designer fabric. | Source

5 Quick Fabric Ideas

1. Use substantial window curtains with sheer or open-weave fabrics to create a sense of balance.
2. If you're not sure about fabric selection, pick them from a single collection that feature coordinated colors and patterns.
3. Give your rooms a comfortable and welcoming feel by adding quilted textures, organic weaves and soft fabrics to the touch.
4. Small and large scale patterns will add energy to any room. Add stripes of tonal colors or bright chevrons into the mix.
5. Wrap blank canvases in fabric to fill up wall space and add pops of color.

Final Thoughts

If you still don’t feel comfortable selecting, measuring for or buying fabric for home decor projects find a professional to help with the selection process and hire a workroom or upholsterer to fabricate the designs. Home decorator fabrics can be expensive. To save money shop discount fabric stores and look for sale, close out and discontinued bolts.

You Can Do It!


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