Designing a Room: A Journey Through Fabrics

Designing a Room: A Journey Through Fabrics

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I just thought I’d share with you something that has been on my mind over recent times. We work with many lovely clients who want to create a new look to their lounge or bedroom and when it comes to designing a scheme with them there is just too much choice. Even I can sometimes feel overwhelmed. There are so many beautiful fabrics out there, including some very good upholstery fabrics with lovely designs and hard wearing qualities. I’m happy to spend hours at a time and go back and forward until I get the mix just right. But it’s not easy – I know this from when we have to choose fabrics for our showroom pieces. We try and layout our room sets in colour schemes, and we are trying to showcase the best of the fabric world, incorporating many of our favourites as well as new designs. It takes hours at a time and over days and weeks. It’s ridiculous isn’t it?

pattern books

I try to keep us up to date with new collections from the main fabric companies such as Colefax & Fowler, GP & J Baker, Zoffany and Sanderson, but there are many more and some of these companies launch new collections in both Spring and Autumn! And each one is exciting and I just NEED it in our library! So it just makes the problem worse.

So given this, I thought I’d offer some guidance about which fabrics really count in our fabric library – what can’t we simply do without. It just may save you a lot of time sifting!


My absolute favourite linens for upholstery have to be heavy, textured and hard wearing. Favourites include Ian Sanderson’s, Assana Linen and Linwood’s, Luna. When a lighter weight linen is required, I like Designers Guild Brera Lino and again Ian Sanderson Kelby Linen.

Kelby Linen light weight hardwearing fabric Ian Sanderson

Again both of these are durable. However, when a printed linen is required I LOVE Fermoie for quality and colour. The patterns are divine and it will always add something special to your room. If you love the Firmdale Hotels, London and New York and Kit Kemp Design, you’ll love Fermoie. We have all their fabric boxes and a showcase of lampshades.

Bespoke lampshades Fermoie fabrics
Bespoke lampshades Fermoie fabrics


Many people don’t realise how hard wearing velvet is, even with a high cotton content. There are many, and I mean many out there – our go-to ones though are as follows:

luxurious mohair velvet Rose Uniacke
  1. For softness, hard wearing and on trend colours – House Velvet by GP & J Baker
  2. For plushness including mohair velvet and cord options – Rose Uniacke
  3. For extreme durability and wide colour choice – Linwood Omega, stain resistant and a good price too. The Omega is synthetic but some colours look just like cotton.
Linwood Omega
Linwood Omega

Fabric Design Features


An easy one to start with in a scheme, as it could be the design with the most colour in it. There are many beautiful designs from Colefax & Fowler for a more quintessential look or Mulberry for a bolder look.

Geometric Patterns

Using different scales of pattern sit well in a scheme with almost anything, but lovely to highlight one of the colours in say a larger floral print. I love GP & J Baker, Jane Churchill and Thibaut.

designing with fabrics geometric and floral contrast piping.

Ticking Stripe

I love seeing a little ticking in a room, there’s a sense of nostalgia about it and I can’t see past Ian Mankin for the best choice. I love to use a small repeat ticking on contrast piping as well, it can look quite striking.

Ticking stripe contrast piping Ian Mankin
ticking as piping funky fabric on chair

Other brands which hold a special place in our fabric studio are Ralph Lauren for its unique character and then of course our quality wools from Moon and Johnstons of Elgin. You must check out the new Alfreso range of throws from Bronte at Moons – we love to add a throw to the back of a sofa or across a footstool for another layer of texture and colour, and of course so lovely to use for warmth on cooler evenings.

wool throws warm bright colours moon throws

So you see, even these alone can be overwhelming but it does help to have a bank of favourites. I try and keep stocked drawers and boxes of favourite fabric and trimming samples in our library which are tried and tested.

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