Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Pattern Palooza! - The Perplexity of Pattern Matching in Upholstery

Make no doubt about it, patterns are back in full force on upholstery frames!  My recent visit to the High Point Furniture Market laid all of the evidence at the end of my camera lens. 

In the past few years, there was a tendency to keep things safe or a bit more flexible with neutrals or solids.  Change up your art, pillows, rugs, paint . . . viola!  A whole new room could appear.  For folks with a more conservative design aesthetic, this may still hold true.  For those who are definitely not shrinking violets when it comes to design styles . . . hold on to your hats.  You can express yourself all day and night with a global flair.


(Daring dragons and red popped against gray.  The focal point is centered in the back.)

As an interior designer, I do need to share a word of caution when it comes to selecting patterned pieces.  (And it’s not about how to combine them.)  A tell-tale sign of the excellence of upholstered furniture is by the way the patterns are matched – or not. 

You see, it takes more fabric to pull the patterns together at the cushions or to make sure they properly meet at the arms or down the skirt.  It also takes a great fabric “tailor” to carry this off.


(Indigenous or tribal-influenced patterns dance between modern and a collected style.  Notice the great flow of pattern down the front.)


(A great pattern but I think it must be a tough match for some pieces.)


(Same pattern, different color.  Not a fan of this “match”.  This is a great upholstery line for a price point - and for casual spaces - but I wouldn’t have them do patterns or I’d keep it in a solid or stripe.  Seems they can handle that well.)


(Now this is NOT a DIY project!  Notice how beautifully the centers connect.  You will get a little bit of skewing as the ends taper out but this is a prime example of a company who understands how to put patterns together, both the fabric and the frame.)


(Do you see how the geometric pattern rolls beautifully over the arm and down the side?)


(BTW – I found a great sofa option for an upcoming beach house project.  Yes, a little more neutral but the contrast welt and layered skirt make it special and “cottage-y”.)


(In the case of a scenic pattern, it’s often best to feature the main design in the seat and the back and then let the rest flow from there.  Asian influences are making a big come-back.)


(Quiet pattern, bold frame.)


(Complex pattern mixing can be, well, complex.  While this may not be your personal cup-of-tea, you can’t help but to admire the excellence in craftsmanship.  I did notice more contrast fabrics on back.  Perhaps we are floating furniture a bit more and it’s nice to have an element of surprise.)


(A happy seat and a great match!  Paisley done in a fresh way.  Super-sized patterns do require more fabric in order to be properly placed.  Just an FYI if you’re wondering why a smaller frame may have some added costs.)

So there you go!  Just the tip of the fabric bolt pile but a good lesson, indeed. 


One of the reasons I travel to market is to explore not only the trends but to check in with vendors to see who’s keeping their design quality up-to-snuff in order for me to confidently specify their products.  I love the ones who offer options and will allow me to say how I want a pattern adapted to a frame.  (And to warn me if the match is going to be an awkward one.)

Think of me as one of your best investments as a client advocate and factory liaison. 

Now off to enjoy Mother Nature’s pattern palooza! ~ Wanda

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