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Incorporating fabrics in interior design is a creative way to turn an ordinary room into an extraordinary one. As a designer, fabrics are the one tool in my toolbox I cannot live without. By mixing and matching fabrics, we can create the opportunity to evoke a specific sense of style for a space. Though, this all depends on what type of sentiment you want to create within a room. To produce a calming effect, use fabrics that contain shades of light blue and serene green. Deep reds and gold are workable choices to fashion more dramatic spaces. No matter which emotion you are trying to imbue, decorating with fabrics can easily give a room a brand new look. There are a few principles for mixing and matching fabrics. This easy “how-to” guide will provide insight to my best-kept secrets on combining fabrics to personalize any area of the home. Unify Color Schemes I suggest beginning by selecting three to four colors per room. Often I will find a print fabric that has several colors in it. I might only use this fabric in a small way, but I can easily build an entire color scheme and room concept from it. I refer to this as a “magic fabric.” Sometimes I use a magic fabric in a large way. This is especially true for homes with tall ceilings and ample wall space. For one of my client’s dining rooms, I backed the dining chairs with a stripped blue, cream and soft-gold fabric to draw out the corresponding blue wall color. I then had the chair-fronts covered in a velvet-like solid cream fabric with a customized silky-blue applique of the family’s initials.

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One tip is to be mindful of mixing pastels with primary colors or too many muted jewel tones. They could clash, giving an inconsistent style to the room. Instead, select a color palette that is well-balanced. Many fabric and home décor stores including mine, Knotting Hill Interiors, can provide you with predetermined color schemes and pre-matched families of cohesive fabrics. Play with Patterns Incorporate different scales of prints and solids in your design. The first fabric pattern should be large-scale. This will create a focal point. Next, choose a second pattern that is completely different from the first. It should be a medium size pattern but within the same color palette. Finally, choose a solid fabric to complement or counter-balance the first two patterns. Or, pick a fabric with a contrasting color that features an embroidered design or embellished accents such as decorative buttons, fringes, brocades, or tufts. It is fine to use various patterns in one room as long as they share an association. Geometric prints are all the rage right now. Quadrafoil is one of my favorites. Its open weave has a rounded edge which lends a type of softness. Geometric fabrics blend nicely with magic fabrics, making it easy to add stripes, plaids and solids to create amazing interest. Tie in Textures Part of mixing fabrics is blending and juxtaposing different textures to individualize a space. Create a “swatch board” with all the fabrics under consideration. This allows a preview of how the fabrics will look together. If needed, consult an interior designer. Match swatches of smooth and woven fabrics such as hemp linen, velvet, chenille, damask, and puckered or matelassé silk. Also combine fabrics with a sheen or matte finish to add depth. The key is to not overindulge in a single fabric texture. Rather, mix and match fabrics to create a sense of comparison. After choosing the fabrics, you can implement the decorating process in layers. For a bedroom, consider starting with bedding and work outward to window treatments, rugs, pillows, and walls. This can range from cushions on a window seat to the placement of a fabric canopy over a bed or a fabric headboard.

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Use Fabric in Unusual Ways Don’t forget to use fabric in unexpected installations. Create a palazzo feeling on the porch or loggia with outdoor draperies. Upholstering walls can add amazing texture to interior spaces. For a dramatic use of fabric, consider “tenting” a ceiling. This particular technique is very difficult, so I suggest consulting a professional.

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The most important thing to note about fabrics is that no home should be without them. Window treatments are an absolute, even in homes with grand views and uniquely shaped windows. There is an unexplainable polish that comes with a window treatment and a softness that makes a space more livable and inviting.

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About Kimberly Grigg: Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based interior designer Kimberly Grigg is the owner of Knotting Hill Interiors and specializes in designing, renovating and redecorating homes in the South, and beyond. To learn more, visit and