Saturday, February 23, 2008


I love fabrics. For years they've been one of the more interesting subjects I've followed in my career as a magazine editor. Colors, designs, histories, stories, crafts, new technologies and materials—textiles are simply fascinating.

My appreciation for the role and skills of interior decorators also continues to grow, maybe in a way that I couldn't have ever fully appreciated without going through a decorating process like I am right now. Last month I placed an order for eight pieces of upholstered furniture from a company called Lee Industries. (That's a story I'm going to save until later when the furniture arrives.) One of the perks of my job is the relationships I've developed over the years with home furnishing manufacturers and the "inside" access I often have to that world.

Twice a year I attend the International Home Furnishings Market in North Carolina, more commonly referred to as High Point (which is the small Southern town that has long been the center of the American furniture industry). In brief the visit is one continuous series of appointments to see new designs from the largest pieces of furniture to the smallest accessory. Of course, I have my favorite appointments with some companies who make beautiful furniture and always inspire ideas for stories with their designs.

Some of these companies have names that people even only slightly familiar with the industry would recognize, but there are other companies (like Lee Industries) who are designing and making furniture that is truly affordable and accessible (but usually as private label for large retail and mail order sources. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, and I want to talk more about Lee when I can actually show pictures of the pieces I've ordered.

In the meantime, I wanted to talk briefly about what a challenge it was to pick the fabrics from swatches (small roughly 4-inch square samples). Wow. More power to the skills of decorators! I mean, I've looked at fabrics for so long and thought it wouldn't be too challenging to pick a few that would work well together. I do like color (but not crazy color) and layers of pattern, but it's been interesting process (also a little nerve racking). My choices were even narrowed down in that I only chose fabrics from Lee Industries' collection of fabrics. So the options were a fraction of what they could have been if the entire world of fabrics were open in this exercise.

So, the fabrics above are the ones I've selected for the living room. The order was placed in early January...and I've just gotten word that delivery will be in the next couple of weeks. More later. In the photo above, you'll see an Ikat (a favorite type of woven), a cotton denim (like the contrast with the silk Ikat), a woven Persian-ish fabric, a classic natural linen and a faded printed floral. I can't afford to make any mistakes that will need to be replaced. I think these are going to work together, but things can change significantly when a pattern is on a large piece of furniture...and various shades of blue don't always work together. And, then there's the factors of the paint colors in the room and the colors of the Brazilian slate floor. More later....

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