Designers love taking on custom fabric projects because of their unique quality. “When you are done, you are left with a one of a kind look created just for you,” says designer Keri Feeney of Keri Feeney Home. “The possibilities are endless. You can really set the tone you envision in any room by combining all the elements beautifully!”
However, before diving into your custom fabric project, it’s important to keep a few key points in mind to ensure success, experts say. Read on to learn more about what you should consider before you order your fabric.
Carefully Consider a Piece’s Scale and Use
“It’s really important to think through the scale, and use of the custom piece in the space it is intended for to ensure you’re getting the full potential out of it,” designer Dawn Heuer of The Heuer Design Collective says of the customization process. A piece’s use will also affect the type of fabric you may wish to select. “Consider the purpose of the fabric,” notes designer Shamika Lynch of Maximizing Tiny. “Does it need to be machine washable because you have children that will mistake it for a napkin? Or maybe it will need to be wipeable/performance if it will be a headboard and you use oils in your hair that may transfer.”
Pay Close Attention to Fabric Design
There is more to a fabric than initially meets the eye. Ordering a custom swatch (Pepper makes this easy at just $3 a pop!) can be helpful to address any concerns ahead of time. “When working with fabrics used to customize furniture, I always consider all the elements, print, trim, frame, welt or stitching, and overall tone of the room,” Feeney shares. If your fabric features patterns, there’s even more to look at ahead of time. “Consider how you want your fabric to fall, especially for patterned fabrics,” Lynch notes. “If there are stripes, which orientation do you want the stripes to go in? If there is a pattern, what portion of the pattern do you want to be featured?”
Feeling ready to plan out a customization project of your own but wondering what type to try? Additional designers share their suggestions below!
Design a Dining Bench or Banquette
Designer Whitney Gelinas of Wit Interiors says that dining benches or banquettes are her favorite type of item to customize. That said, it’s key to be mindful about fabric type. “When making a banquette, it’s important to make sure you use performance fabrics so that one spill doesn’t ruin it for life,” she notes. “I also recommend something with a pattern in it so that it hides small stains.”
Give A Special Heirloom Some New Life
Perhaps you’ve inherited a piece from a relative and want to incorporate it into your home (once it looks a little more contemporary, that is!). Custom fabric is an excellent solution. “It’s nice to upcycle something you already own,” says designer Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs. “A favorite comfy chair or treasured family heirloom can be as good as new and match any design style with the right fabric selections.”
Tackle a Smaller Project, Like a Lampshade or Accent Pillow
Gelinas is also a proponent of customizing a smaller scale piece, like a pleated lampshade. This type of project is particularly ideal for the serial decorator. “It’s a great way to add some instant drama without a lot of commitment,” Gelinas says. “If you get tired of it in a few years you can always replace it but in the meantime it will add a lot of personality.”
Another smaller scale project to consider is a bold accent pillow. “It's a great way to introduce color into a room without a long-term commitment to that color palette,” says designer Alice Kuaban of Oddessence. “It is also usually less costly, since you don't need too many yards of fabric.”
Note That You Can Always Try a DIY
Looking to tackle a DIY? There are plenty of projects you can take on by yourself with a few basic materials and the fabric of your choosing. “Headboards, ottomans, and lampshades are easy, no-sew items anyone can upholster with a staple gun or glue,” says designer Katherine Thewlis of Hausmatter. “If you are just getting started with upholstery, consider a small drum shade,” she adds. “It adds a fun pop of color and pattern with little commitment.”
Ready to get started? Shop fabric by the yard!