SOLUTION:Authentic period recreations can be a challenge when you are not familiar with the fabrics of the period or the history and characteristics of your fabric choices. The following information should help you decipher which types of fabrics are right for each period.
• Velvet has characteristics that include a heavy, thick pile; and it usually comes in solid colors. Periods such as Early Georgian, French Provincial, Victorian, Early English and Spanish Renaissance feature velvet.
• Chintz's characteristics include a lightweight, smooth surface that often has a printed design. Casual Contemporary, French Provincial, Victorian and Later Colonial styles feature chintz.
• Damask has a smooth, woven overall design. A true woven damask will have the same pattern in reversed colors on the back of the fabric, but there also are some printed damasks that have the design only on the face of the fabric. The Victoria Era, Early English, Georgian and Colonial time periods used damasks quite often. This style of fabric is very versatile.
• Nubby Synthetics are usually woven in solid colors. They are durable and are quite versatile. The Contemporary Period welcomes this fabric along with Traditional, Rustic and Early Colonial periods.
• Crewelwork is a combination of embroidered designs of various flowers and vines. Crewelwork is very popular right now, although period styles such as Early English, Spanish Renaissance and Country have featured this fabric.
• Raw Silk is a natural fabric with a loose weave. This fabric is excellent in recreating a contemporary interior setting. A lining is recommended when working with raw silk, especially near sunlight.
• Cretonne is known for its printed designs and is strong and durable. French Provincial and Contemporary periods feature this fabric.
There are many other fabrics that can be introduced into a room's period interior and maintain its authenticity. Window treatments provide several other options including layering—using hard treatments as the undertreatment. For example, sheers over wood blinds would be appropriate for some periods.
You also might want to try searching to see if you can locate authentic vintage fabrics from these time periods. Doing that would depend on your client's budget and the project's time schedule.
Meeting the client's need is our No. 1 priority. It sounds as if you are in tune with your client! Good luck in your design endeavors.
Editor's Note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
666 Dundee Rd., Ste. 807
Northbrook, IL 60062-2769
Fax: (847) 498-9299
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience as a professional interior designer in both commercial and residential design. She has taught at numerous colleges throughout California and currently is an educator at Moorpark college in southern California. She is a published author and frequent public speaker.