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Fabric trends see modern takes on familiar textiles

Nautical striped outdoor lounge chairs from the Portico

Nautical striped outdoor lounge chairs from the Portico Collection at Ethan Allen, with coral patterned pillows. Credit: Handout

If you're looking to update your upholstery, curtains, pillows or what have you, look no further. Here are the fabrics that are trending.


Chintz, which invaded homes in the '80s along with VCRs and the sounds of Madonna, is making somewhat of a comeback. So are stripes -- not that they ever really went out. And remember all those ethnic fabrics from your hippie days? Well, maybe you don't. But they were everywhere then, and now.

It's not your grandmother's chintz. Today's printed cotton doesn't have the slick glaze or the fogy floral prints like those for which interior decorator Mario Buatta became noted. Instead, they're clean and crisp.

"After 'Downton Abbey,' everyone is very interested again in English, pretty decor," says Albert Sardelli, vice president of design at upscale fabric house Scalamandre, which began life in Long Island City, and though it operates a Manhattan showroom, is headquartered in Hauppauge. With this in mind, he set out to design chintzes that would be "relevant" for today's interiors -- "a little bit dressy," while casual at the same time. It's all about striking a balance. "People are going to want to sit down in a chair without worrying about hurting it," he says. His mandate was to get away from the polished cotton that mocks the look of silk. What he wound up with was a reinterpretation of the material that has more clarity of color and freshness. Other makers are doing similar fabrics.


His mission, Sardelli says, is "to broaden" the firm's offerings by introducing what he calls "humble fabrics" as well as those that "perform well." In the company's most recent collection, collaborated on with renowned designer Kathryn Ireland, who appears on Bravo TV's "Million Dollar Decorator," it created fabrics with just cotton and linen. "Relaxed and casual -- it's a different look for Scalamandre. People are living in their homes, not just showing them off," he says.

After all, why would a firm such as Scalamandre, which has been noted for nearly a century for its silks, want its chintz to mimic that queen of fabrics when its silk lampas, silk lisere and silk brocades are considered among the best in the world?

Alice Guercio, vice president of product coordination at Kravet, a mid- to high-end fabric and furnishings manufacturer with offices in Bethpage, says she believes linen and linen blends are now a "must."

"We're living casually," she says. "But we want a formal look in a livable space, comfortable rather than stiff." Textures are big right now, including chenille, but it's less heavy than it has been.


Ethnic fabrics have been around for a couple of years, but they are trending big time now, even in the apparel world, where they can be found in everything from tunics to tees. Handmade cloth by traditional cultures, ikats (dyed with elaborate, multicolored patterns) and suzanis (from Central Asia, embroidered in mostly botanical motifs) are especially popular.

"They've almost become mainstream the way that traditional used to be," says Guercio, who likens them to the "new stripe" in that they fit into any decor. What gives Kravet's versions a contemporary edge is their fashion-forward colors, such as bright pink.

Accents et Details, a design store in Locust Valley run by interior designers Lisa Simek and Catherine Schweber, carries a line of ikat pillows, hand-woven and dyed in Uzbekistan and made in Turkey, with patterns of "multicolor zigzags or dots relating to their culture," says Simek. "These are authentic, as they are not designed for the export market." Three sizes, starting at $300, also are available at English Country Antiques in Bridgehampton and Southampton.


Stripes never go out of style, says Serena Dugan, co-founder of Serena & Lily, a Sausalito, Calif., online catalog of home decor that opened its only brick and mortar location in Wainscott in May. "They're classic and guaranteed to never get tired," she says, adding that they coordinate with nearly all other patterns.

The company's bold black-and-white-striped outdoor chairs contrast handsomely with the company's original "Montauk" pattern, based on a classic ogee (a design element used in decorative molding), which they gave a graphic look by applying a tight pattern in bright colors. It is available on Serena & Lily's butterfly and swing chairs.


For outdoor furniture, ikat "invokes that island feeling," says Monica Letterman, design project manager at Ethan Allen in Garden City. Ditto for batik, an Indonesian wax-resistant dye technique with leafy and floral motifs. Natural dyes are predominately used, in indigos and brown "to tie into nature, whether the sky and water or earth and tree bark," she says.


As neutrals fade out, color is coming in strong. "We're using lots of jewel tones," says Simek. "Sapphire blue, emerald green, amethyst purple." Scalandre's Sardelli remarks on all the purple he's seeing right now, as he walks up Third Avenue and looks in retail shops. "It's been so absent, that now if feels fresh." On the color wheel, he explains, when one color is "happening," its opposite is also present. "So we're seeing a lot of yellow, too."

Perhaps the most prominent color to be trending is green, not the citrusy greens of yesteryear, but cooler, bluer greens. Says Kravet's Guercia: Blue is gaining momentum -- spa blue with its "soft, tranquil and soothing" feel, and slate blue, which has chameleon characteristics, seemingly more gray or blue, depending of what other colors you pair it with.

While she observes that sofas or walls remain neutral (cream and beige, and the new neutral, gray), accessories are adding pops of color throughout the room.


Suzani cloth is decorated with images from nature: flowers, leaves and vines, moon discs, and fruits, especially pomegranates. Coral is another motif seen a lot lately.

Animal-skin patterns also are becoming hot. Shagreen (stingray), snakeskin and lizard patterns in bright colors are particularly in vogue, printed or embossed to resemble the creature's texture. Shiny, bright leather -- embossed or metallic -- also is being used as trim on upholstery, says Simek.


NoliHahn Interiors and Textiles, both a design firm and a retail showroom in Cold Spring Harbor, is introducing its first major fabric collection this fall under the name Noli Textiles, spearheaded by one of the firm's two partners, Susan Calabria, formerly of such upscale fabric manufacturers as Schumacher, where she was director of printed fabrics, and Scalamandre, where she was creative director. Her partner is interior designer Brian Hahn.

One of the fabrics in the upcoming collection is based on an 18th century damask "modernized for a new generation." Historically made in silk, their damask has been reinterpreted for today's market in a beautiful chenille cotton yarn, which gives it a more relaxed look, yet is still elegant. The fabric, traditionally colored in deeply saturated merlots, navy blues and golden ochres, has been replaced by neutrals -- soft greens, airy blues, mocha, and platinum -- making them equally at home in either a luxurious or casual setting. Though they are mainly sold wholesale to designers in several showrooms across the country, the fabrics can be purchased retail through the NoliHahn Interiors showroom, starting at $90 a yard.

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