India’s textile tradition is her strength and benchmark. Our fabric heritage spans the country, and no matter where we’re from, I think all of us have grown up with at least one tactile memory, my own favourite being the softness of my grandmother’s silk sarees that she wore with such ease, and even further back, the fantastically intricate tatted and crocheted pieces my great-grandma dotted our home with.
If you’re thinking about refreshing your space, consider first doing so with textiles. They are the convenient chameleons of the decorating world, adding personality and a pop of vibrancy to any area. Fabrics have the power to instantly update a space with colour, texture, or pattern. While classic textiles convey a rich sense of history, they can also make a room feel decidedly modern.
The most obvious places to spot interesting textiles are on cushions and rugs, but one can’t just put any two pieces together for a harmonious look. Most ethnic textiles contain such a riot of colours that matching them with every other item in your home isn’t that important, or even possible. Instead, use the principles of colour and scale to create harmony. Offsetting large and small-scale in the same colour family will contribute texture without making the area feel overwhelming.
You could even take one single beautiful vibrant piece to be the focus of the room, say, on the carpet, and offset it with beautiful woven cushions in solid colours to complement it.
Choose a single hue as your theme for the room, and layer it on your drapes, rugs or throw pillows, with a complementary pattern appearing on an accent chair to just give your room some punch.
If you’re like me, and can never ever pass up a beautiful fabric, then you must have a shelf-full of brocades, embroideries and so on just begging to be shown off. I find that displaying them as art is the best way to give them their place in the sun. Loop one end around a wooden dowel and hang it from a hook, and voila, an ever-changing art exhibit.
Using fabrics in unexpected ways can lead you on an inspired journey, one where labels don’t matter. It will lead you to search for the unusual in everything, the love behind a hand-crafted piece, maybe bringing back beautiful textiles as souvenirs instead of mass-produced fridge magnets (which I love, to be sure, but get me a length of silk and I’m a happy camper, indeed!)
Tuck a kantha quilt over your seat cushions and suddenly your plain-Jane sofa looks adventurous and totally new. The best part is you can swap it out or go back to the original look in seconds.
Lengths of fragile Chanderi or Chikankari fabric, fluttering about a bedpost, or a collection of beautiful but unused dupattas as window treatments, invoke summery seasons and moods. Layers of earthy flatweave dhurries offset with piles of glimmering mirrored cushions from Rajasthan or Gujarat in a den invite you to curl up with a book and a cup of chai on wintry mornings.
Whip off the plastic tablecover and swap it for a beautiful block-printed design for a dressed-up look that can soften the hard lines of your wooden table, or make a mismatched assortment of China look like a carefree — and intentional —design choice.
An interesting textile screen in a corner, or a cover up of the plastic shower curtain with a second fabric layer brings beauty into unexpected places, muting corners and adding warmth to cold spaces. Another DIY trick I love is to create a gallery wall of complementary chintz or block prints, either stretched on canvas in frames, or to add another layer of interest, simply stretched out on embroidery hoops and hung up. The possibilities are endless.
“Textiles in interiors is like the last piece in the puzzle. Apart from integrating the various elements in the space, it brings in warmth and comfort. The future of interior textiles is in sustainable and eco-friendly products. At our space, we offer a range of interior textiles such as dhurries, floor cushions, table runners etc using natural fibres, hand-woven, hand-block printed and eco-friendly,” explains Mahesh Kumar Ramachandran, founding partner at Bengaluru-based home decor firm Pomegranate Fabrics.
And decorating with them is not as expensive as you might think–just a few metres may be all you need to dramatically transform a space. They store easily and can be added, removed or rearranged in your décor with very little effort. So, choose a textile that speaks to you, whatever the language; finding one that you love is certainly really simple, given our embarrassment of riches.