British Victorian meets Italian palazzo: the advent of tapestry wall coverings

The first curtains are back. Then they began to appear in places other than windows, as room dividers and around beds. Now it’s almost impossible to open Instagram without seeing a laundry with a “skirt” in it. or a floor-length, fabric-covered round side table. Even the lampshades have an added flip to them, while the coffee tables are swapped for upholstered ottomans. In short: texture is once again proliferating across modern interiors.

“We still see our fabrics mainly on furniture or curtains, but nowadays they extend to every decorative surface such as walls, doors, cupboards and awnings,” says Benjamin Frowein, CEO of interior design firm F Schumacher & Co Europe. “This is a global trend – Schumacher’s textile business has grown 20 per cent faster than other categories – but it is especially true of the UK with its history of fine textiles.”

It’s an aesthetic rooted in British Victorian, but with a decadent slice of Italian palazzo. “In Venice, we come from a tradition of silk weavers and merchants, so the fabric finds its way to every surface,” says Niccolo Favareto Rubelli, CEO of Rubelli, the family-run fabric house.

“We’ve certainly seen a revival of this fashion in recent years; interior designers are much more adventurous with how they use texture as well as experimenting with stronger, more dramatic colors and contrasting, contrasting patterns.”

In response, the company has updated versions of its traditional textiles—from a collaboration with FT columnist and designer Luke Edward Hall to the new Damasco Today collection, which reinterprets its vintage luxe deconstruction for modern tastes. At the same time, interior designers layer fabrics with new-generation vitality.

“For all of our clients right now we’re doing canvas walls,” says Rachel Chudley, whose east London home has been used as a testing ground for bold concrete room schemes, using mostly Schumacher fabrics. In her young son’s nursery, for example, the walls are covered in a dark red linen tapestry with medieval-style animal motifs (Schumacher’s La Menagerie in flame red, in paperback by Walltex).

“I love it so much that I wanted to see it everywhere,” she says of the design, which is used to whimsical effect along with the ’60s yellow floral embroidered curtains and leather throw pillows that bring five other fabric patterns into the mix. “I wanted to completely play with traditional fabrics, but use them in unusual ways.”

The bedroom is often where the layering look of fabric can be felt most fully. “We have clients wearing four-poster beds again with fabric covers, curtains and bedspreads that are out of fashion,” says Favareto Rubelli. Drapes also return to preference, while another popular combination is an upholstered headboard topped with a tester – a 14th-century high-ceilinged canvas-covered canopy.

“A test bed is definitely a hot thing right now,” says Swedish designer Beata Heuman, who is fond of using a structured version with a lambrequin on top. “It feels very fitting and luxurious.”

Chudley’s bedroom nods to the traditional tester, but with a twist. A Victorian-themed floral print (Jennie Velvet from Schumacher’s in Midnight and Magenta) drapes over two ceiling pieces behind the headboard, upholstered in contrasting printed velvet.

Perhaps it’s Chudley’s bathroom, though, that draws attention to its more understated tone and sparkle. “I wanted it to feel like one of those grand homes, maybe Italian,” she says of the space, which is decked out in pink marble around the bathroom and two different textures on the walls—moss velvet, which she notes is water-repellent, and Schumacher’s all-over Bezique Flamestitch Velvet, layered in jagged. of colours.

(Perhaps the most practical way to bring canvas into the bathroom is House of Hackney’s collaboration with Craven Dunnill Jackfield, which translates Artemis Rose and Artemis Hibiscus floral prints into Victorian-inspired tiles.)

For Flora Soames, who designs her own fabrics, “more means more” © Marco Kesseler / Alamy

says Rachel Chudley, whose home in East London has been used, for all of our clients at the moment, as a testing ground for bold schemes.

‘For all of our clients right now we’re making canvas walls,’ says Rachel Chudley, whose home in east London has been used as a testing ground for bold schemes.

Heumann also recently chose to paint the canvas walls in her home, using a self-designed blue-and-white Willow Ink print in her small downstairs powder room. “I love the richness of the fabric walls, but I’ve only done it a few times, actually,” she says. “It’s not so much because I don’t want to, but because my clients often don’t understand it; people tend to think it’s dusty and not practical.”

So what are the benefits of covering a wall with texture over wallpaper? “You walk into the room and it feels warm and cozy,” Chudley suggests, adding that exclusivity also plays a role. “So many people are using wallpaper now that it’s hard to find wallpapers you haven’t seen everywhere.”

New Zealand born, London based Veere Grenney – Ex-Director
In the interiors works Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler and a stalwart
From the looks of the layered fabric—it’s often used for “wall upholstery” because, he says, it’s “great for sound and immediate atmosphere.”

He points to a cozy, fabric-lined TV room he created for a London home. “I used a gorgeous Bennison-print linen fabric called Coromandel for the walls, curtains, and upholstery,” he says of the orange-and-green floral print, which coordinates with the pillows and ottoman in different textures and patterns, but all in similar shades. “In the words of John Fowler, ‘all reds march together’; in this room, all oranges hold together.”

For many, British designer John Fowler (1906-1977) personified the look of layering canvas. He founded his interior design firm with Sibyl Colefax in the 1930s, championing the aesthetic of the English country house and the use of chintz fabrics.

“It was proof that a console table with a beautiful tablecloth both old and new can really save space,” says Flora Soames, an interior designer who also launched her own canvas designs. “My entire MO [modus operandi] It’s about print, fabric, and more.”

As for why fabric is increasingly playing a starring role in our homes, “comfort” and “comfort” are frequent words among these designers. Another is “nostalgia”. “It brings back memories of Grandma’s living room with a ruffled tablecloth,” says Soames.

For Mary Graham, one-half of the interior design duo Salvesen Graham, nostalgia for the fabric-filled ’80s is a factor. “A lot of us who now decorate homes grew up in the Laura Ashley era,” she says, “although now it’s definitely a more scaled-down, more elaborate version.”

Graham adds that a lot of the fabric items have a DIY appeal, too, and can be put together in no time. At Heuman’s Willow Ink WC, the tub skirt was a quick fix: “I made it out of a bunch of old handwoven planks I bought at auction,” she says. And for Soames, the bathroom at Norfolk’s historic Houghton Hall was quickly given a sense of drama and decadence with a bulge of striped, gathered canvas covering the top half of the walls. “I just knocked it over; it was really automatic.” “But I like the theatrics about it.”

For those keen to experience the effect of tapestry-on-fabric on canvas entirely with little effort, interior designer Emma Ainscough has created a beautiful Shropshire cottage with a full range of tapestry features – from draped skirts and fabric-draped dressing tables to a canopy-and-tented bedroom nook – that can Holiday let with Unique Homestays (Charlotte Foley sleeps up to six guests, from £1,995 per week).

But is there such a thing as too much texture layer? “Not in my book!” Although all designers agree it’s a good balance, Soames says. “There is something very unprecious and playful about this look. It doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

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