Dear Debbie: We have just bought an antique mahogany dining table. The six dining chairs were acquired at different times and they don't all match, but the wood in the chairs and table are close in colour. Would it look OK to have different fabrics on the chair seats? I'm afraid the dining room will look jumbled, but I like the look of mixed designs.
Dear Renaldo: There are so many gorgeous fabrics out there, it's a real challenge to choose just one. The good news is that you don't have to. Designers and manufacturers of fabrics, whether they are heading for the furniture or fashion market, have created colour palettes that complement each other in marvellous ways. The patterns and weave vary, the cloth may be silk, velvet, velour, fine cotton or faux leather, but their shades commingle to produce a fresh, new look.
I've just returned from a visit to the sorting room for an upcoming sale put on by The Textile Museum in Toronto. For the Love of Cloth is a fundraising project made possible by the support of Primavera and other donors. This weekend's sale features hundreds of sample panels from discontinued lines and end rolls of designer fabrics at seriously low prices. Sales such as this also have a variety of beads, fine linens, embroidery and small rugs that have been donated.
The enthusiastic volunteers had prepared a list of the myriad ways these panels can and have been repurposed. Yes, you can recover your dining chairs in a rich selection of patterns and cloth types as you see in the vignette of sale items shown in the photo, above. Try polka dots or alternate stripes on one chair and floral on another. Just make sure that one colour ties them together. Throw in an exotic table runner and place mats.
But don't stop there. For the bedroom, think about creating a backing for a quilt or duvet cover, a folding door or privacy screen, or drawer and basket linings for the closet.
In the living area, sample size panels are perfect for small seats and backs, cushions, drapery trim and lap rugs. Many of the exquisite motifs lend themselves to being captured in a frame or wrapped around a wooden frame for hanging. You may find three samples of the same design in different colours, perfect for a triptych. If you have a loft with soaring wall space, make a focal wall with one of these panels.
You can be creative on the fashion front, too. Sew up an eye-catching beanie hat or funky clutch purse, a beach bag from summer fabric ends, or a cosy quilted vest with a patchwork of small sample panels. Check out when the fall and spring sales appear in a location near you. Local art galleries, museums and designer outlets will be able to direct you.
Debbie Travis's House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit Debbie's website, debbietravis.com.
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