Vines and Lines: Using Fabric in Design

Vines and Lines - Using Fabric in Design

Adding A Little Wiggle with Window Treatments

This window treatment project was a fun collaboration.  The client had just finished remodeling the ground floor.  New wide plank wood floors, replacement windows, and new kitchen cabinets in addition to paint and fixture upgrades were complete. The mill work was a generously plain craftsman style.  

She came to us with four objectives for window treatments:

  1. Privacy and illumination
  2. Extend the color palettes in each room
  3. Showcase the mill work elements
  4. Dilute the 'boxy' feel that had crept in with all the rectangular lines

We got some paint and fabric samples (arm caps lurking under the cushions).  And started sieving fabrics to narrow down onto acceptable patterns before delving too deeply in exact colorways.  The sorting process left these at the top:

Greenhouse A8528-Garden

Greenhouse A8700-Olive

Carole Fabrics: Polychrome Stripe (actual colorway discontinued)

Front Fold Roman Shades for the Kitchen Bay Window

The front fold style got the nod.  It has a horizontal aspect that breaks up the simple rectangular appearance of a flat shade.  A soft or slouch style would have been too relaxed against the strong casings.

Front Fold Roman Shade

Taking photos of window treatments in daylight is usually a bad idea.  The strong light washes out colors.  But this one shows the illumination effect that was a target.  The harsh, bluish light is softened from a glare to a glow.  An amber lining on the treatments helps give a warm cast to the light.  Note how the vine pattern seems to grow out of the granite top and gives a sense of movement against the fixed grid of the windows.

The same tactic moved to the family room, with a shift in the color theme.

Wide Front Fold Roman Shade

Click to zoom

This is a wide front fold shade over a double window.  The colors have moved to ivory, soft brown, silver and grey.  This picture was taken in full sunlight and the extended shade looks like an illuminated mural on the wall.  Again, an amber lining defeats the blue haze.  A zoomed view shows the subtle linen texture of the face fabric.

Slouch Style Roman Shade for the Living Room

In the living room, a different style of Roman shade continues the counter-balance between linear and sinuous.  This slouch Roman shade is in a horizontal stripe, with a horizontal stria!  Strong elements in a room with a rectangular emphasis, serving to pull the ceiling down, creating an enclosed mood.  But, the soft pleats and the center lift introduce a curved and random balance.  The stria pattern in the fabric also shows as a random mottled element.

Wide Slouch Style Roman Shade

The inside mounting of these soft shades allows the window casings to stand proud - one of the goals.  The fabrics allow natural light into the room while allowing full privacy.  The sinuous patterns in the fabric and in the shade style both soften and enhance the linear architectural elements.

Our client was delighted and when we were done installing some tab top drapes in other areas, we basked in the window glow with her for a few moments, enjoying the fruits of good decisions.

More Lines and Vines

While this example uses window treatments, the interplay between contrasting patterns applies to other decorating situations - wall coverings, upholstery, artwork and floor coverings.

A regular grid or a series of horizontal lines are rare in nature (rock strata and some cloud formations come to mind.)  They suggest humanity, civilization and order.

We are confident in the fact that horizontal lines won’t fall down. They are already lying down. So they feel safe and give us a sense of calm. We often associate straight, smooth, flat lines and shapes with a floor, a calm sea, a flat road. It means safety, stability, yet can also become a bit boring and static – a sensation of stillness and going nowhere.

Lorella VanFossen

Nature spawns endless rounded lines, curves, bristles, hummocks and vertical lines of growing things.  A sensation of motion and of going everywhere.  In profusion, it can seem chaotic, tangled and bewildering.

Put up a picket fence on an empty yard and it seems plain and boring - a barrier.  Plant a rosebush in a thicket and it seems like part of the bramble.  Put the rose bush in front of the picket fence and they both become more interesting.  You appreciate their features because they are contrasting.  And therefore complementing each other.  Order AND life.

 Random element in the valance.  Orderly element in the shade.   Read about this project →

Random element in the valance.  Orderly element in the shade.  Read about this project →

Thanks for reading!  I'd love any feedback or examples of your 'Lines and Vines'.

- Jim