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Fool Proof Tips for Successfully using Prints (not involving a throw pillow)

Fool Proof Tips for Successfully using Prints (not involving a throw pillow)

As a designer I’m always encouraging clients to think out of the box, or more specifically “out of the catalogue”. Your home’s interior does not have to be a monotone sea of grey, beige, and cream linen with driftwood finish on weathered Oak. For some people this is a perfect match to their lifestyle, aesthetic and personal taste, but I have worked with many couples who fantasize about having an alternative lifestyle behind closed doors, but fear embracing a four letter word for something that’s a little shocking, a little sexy in plain sight. That four letter word which would cause some visitors to raise an eyebrow or your mother to gasp.



So often when working with clients we’ll be thumbing through fabric books and suddenly they will stop at a certain print that literally makes them freeze. “I love this!” they’ll exclaimed, invariably followed by “ or is it too much?” Their expressions quickly turn from wonder to worried. When I confirm their bold taste as an excellent choice, they nervously bite their lips and mutter “maybe just for a pillow…” as they sigh and deflatedly reach for the swatch book of solid cotton linens.


If you are a print person, but are worried about how it will look, follow these tips:


Use a print on an accent chair or better yet, a pair. This will create a bold, personal local and strong focal point while remaining contained and balanced with the rest of the room. Here’s our Bronson chair  in a classic black velvet --classic, lovely, safe.

 Here’s our Bronson chair that a sharp eyed designer turned into an individual expression of her client’s personality—BRAVA!

modern custom curved barrel chair contemporary


 Use your favorite print on the host chairs where you can really use bold colors and prints without fear since the large volume surface of the table will provide a good neutral mass to balance any vibrant choices as will side chairs in a solid fabric.




Rugs provide a fantastic surface space for large and vibrant colors which will again be balanced by a solid sofa and coffee table. Remember the display rug that is hanging like a piece of art (and many are!) is not how it will be experienced in an actual setting.




Designers that enjoy working with prints usually have a lot of experience and talent for color harmony and balance, along with a strong artistic nature. They’ll keep you from making major mistakes.



Finally to all  lovers of print I offer Mondo Guerra from Project Runway as your inspiration for all things print.  He is one of the all time favorites, won the All Stars Season and is having a successful career. As a contestant his fabric choices seemed downright psycho in terms of the mixture of prints and bold color swatches he announced he would be pairing together, but once seen on the runway his designs were exquisitely individual and bold, as well as intelligent, sophisticated and fashion forward. He had the ability to mix prints others couldn’t because his talent and skill and belief in his own aesthetics. You have that too!


Remember, it’s only fabric, it can be reupholstered. To the closeted print lovers I say try a fabric you’re wild about, and I guarantee you that not only will it be your favorite piece, but your guests will gush over your unique and inspiring home. No mass appeal furniture catalogue can do that… 

1 comment


Hi, your pointers are very helpful.

I came across your post by way of a black dining table that I love.

What’s your thought on dark, wood floors with licorice black, glossy dining table? Do floors and big furniture pieces need to have a certain contrast?

I live in a high ceiling loft that doesn’t get much natural light, but I love edgy, sexy furniture (if the clothing brand All Saints did furniture, I’d go with their stuff).

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