Friday, November 20, 2009

How to mix patterns

I’ve been on the internet several times in the last week with a young gal in Ohio who is having real trouble mixing patterns of fabric in a family room. She had picked two main fabrics that were what she wanted but there was something ‘wrong’. After quite a few e-mails back and forth, and some internet searches of fabric sites for examples, we found a solution to her problem and now she is a happy gal. It occurred to me that what we discussed might be of interest to some of you.

Here are the ‘guidelines’ about mixing fabric patterns.

The fabrics must relate to the ‘theme’ of the room. For example, if you are working on a sun room the fabric should most likely not have designs of cars and trucks, more likely it would have flowers, or pastoral scenes. ( Think back to the column on unity).

The colors in the fabrics that are the same as the color scheme must match the color scheme. No ‘almost the same color’ - must be the SAME color. Different shades and tints are OK, just do not vary from the same base colors. ( A shade is a color with black added, a tint has white added).

Pay attention to scale. A very large print needs to be paired to a print of a scale that will compliment, not exaggerate it. For example, a very large floral works very well beside a medium sized plaid, or stripe.

Think how the fabrics will appear when viewed from across a room. Often small prints or stripes dissolve into another color when viewed at a distance. I remember a hotel lobby where the carpet was orange and navy blue, up close. The right colors for the room. At a distance it was mauve.

If you are mixing patterns of all one type - all florals, for example, as well as color there should be something similar in the patterns - a leaf or a flower or even just a ‘squiggle’.

If you have two prints that you really love, but don’t relate well to each other, find a fabric that will bridge the two. This third fabric should have elements of each of the other two; colors, lines, patterns, something.

Ask for help. The ladies in the fabric stores here are really good at this. They do it a lot and love to help you put fabrics together.

I’ve had a busy few weeks, I’m just finishing an article for an international design and drapery magazine about the magnetic valance and Roman blind headrails I make. ( See my post here of April 2, 2009 about these magnetic headrails). I’ll put a link to the article on my website in the Articles Archive as soon as it’s published.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

R-Value and Drape Insulation

In the last week I have had several requests to add lining to existing drapes. For those of you who have been thinking about it but need a bit more information, here is a brief summary of the infomercial I presented at the Shuswap Women in Business meeting last month.

Hunter Douglas, one of the largest manufacturers of window coverings suggests that up to 25% of our annual heating bills go out the windows. They have produced a variation on the honeycomb shade, the Architella with an R value of 7.7. So what is R-Value anyway? R is a measure of resistance to heat transfer. R-Value is not the best way to measure a window’s heat loss protection value but it is the most common. (U value is the insulation rating for transparent objects.)

A home with 4” studs must have R-12 insulation. If you have a double insulating glass window with 1/2” air space between the layers, the R value of the window is about 2. Add a single layer of fabric, almost no increase, add a plain lining for an increase of about 1 for a total R value of R3. Add a black out lining; R-value is up to about R5 or 6. Add an interlining, and the R value jumps to about R9. Add an insulated Roman Blind and valance and the R value of the whole window treatment becomes about R16. Remember that the window treatments you are using to reduce heat loss must be snug to the window and layers will provide the best protection. If you have a blind inset into your window frame and the gap on each side is 1/8”, over 80 inches (40 inches on each side) this equates to a 3” x 3” hole in your coverage.

As a full service drapery workroom, I will add lining to existing drapes, either a permanent or removable liner, or you can find pre-made panels at Zellers or Fabricland or through many on-line home decor stores. If they are blackout liners, you will get the most protection against heat going out the window in the winter and heat coming in during the summer. If they are too long they can be hemmed.

Thanks to all of you who came out to watch me work on the wing chair at Fabricland. The chair cover is done, stop in and see it or have a look at it on and connect to the Gallery via the flashing book icon.

Have a read of my post of December 8, 2008; 'How much does it cost to heat one window?' Lots more info there.

If you'd like to know how much YOU are spending to heat your windows, e-mail me at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Unity in Design

The room feels right, the colors work well together, the lighting is just so, there is a feeling about the room that everything belongs there, everything has a purpose and that purpose is to make you feel at home in the room. This room has unity.

Unity is achieved by having all the components in the room blend together through common denominators. It starts with the mood of the room; does the room feel warm and calming? There will be no elements in this room that do not fit this mood. Everything is placed with consideration to it’s surroundings and to the scale of the room. Items placed next to each other intensify each other. One small plant is lonely, three small plants make a group. The plants relate to the vine design in the carpet, the scroll work on the iron coffee table base reflects this theme. Repetition increases the feeling of unity.

The room is balanced, there are no crowded corners on one side of the room, empty corners on the other. The traffic moves through the room easily, never interfering with the function of the room.

The proportion of the furniture is in keeping with the size of the room and each piece of furniture is in balanced scale to the piece next to it.

The color of the room is in keeping with the style and the mood of the room and all elements in the room relate to the color scheme.

The room has an abundance of textures and natural, geometric, abstract and conventional patterns are found. ( Conventional patterns are ones that almost look like the real thing).

A line is a path of action of a design. Lines suggest the eye move or rest; each room should contain curved, horizontal, diagonal and vertical lines. The room will have rhythm and the eye will move easily around the space.

Sound like a lot of gobeltey-gook? Next time you look at a photo of a great room in a magazine see if you can spot the 4 line directions and the 4 pattern types. Then look for a common theme; look at how the color scheme is used. You may be surprised.