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Solutions: Fabric has magical transforming qualities

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

From a structural standpoint, the average house has a lot of hard surfaces, from the windows and doors to the walls and floors. One of the best ways to soften your interiors is with the use of fabric that can work a little magic in every room.

For starters, upholstered pieces can instantly relax the atmosphere, especially when there’s an interesting mix of textiles on your seating.

An upholstered headboard in a bedroom acts as a natural focal point for the space, while added layers of bedding further soften the surroundings and keep you comfortable and warm.

Fabric accents make an impact wherever they land in the form of lampshades, canvas storage bins and more.

Pillows and throws are among the touchy-feely details that lend texture and visual interest to your rooms. They can help to establish a new color palette, letting you make seasonal updates or whenever you feel the need for something new.

Cardboard boxes can be wrapped in fabric as holiday gifts or decorative elements to be displayed around the home on a regular basis.

Window treatments lessen the hard edges around a window or door wall, while area rugs can have the same effect on floors.

The older you get, the more you appreciate some type of cushion, whether it comes in the form of carpeting, which can be easier on the joints than tile or wood, or an upholstered dining chair that makes it easier to linger after a leisurely meal.

Tablecloths, runners and place mats can change the feel of a room filled with wood furniture. In a pinch, a simple quilt or flat sheet will do.

Fabric can also become wall decor. This can be done by framing a remnant with a pattern that appeals to you or hanging a graphic tapestry.

Even a colorful dishtowel makes a great piece of art when placed inside a frame or wrapped around a canvas for a unique display.

You can also get your wardrobe in on the act by using a scarf to cover an end table or wrapping a shawl around the back of a chair to hide wear and tear.

Another way to add to what you already have is with seat cushions and pillows to soften a standard desk chair.

By nature, some of the more utilitarian spaces, such as bathrooms and kitchens, tend to have less fabric than other areas of the home. Consider a few soft accents like curtains, towels and rugs to make up for all the hard edges of the cabinetry and other surfaces.

Architectural features like a fireplace mantel or a metal staircase railing can feel more relaxed with the addition of some Christmas stockings at this time of year. For a holiday tree, try adding a skirt at the base and some fabric ornaments to soften the branches.

Fabric can play a major role in your rooms. With the wide array of colors and patterns available today, the sky’s the limit for this special element that makes any setting more welcoming.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at