The most striking way to change the look of your home is to change the furnishing
in it. What does this mean? It includes everything from curtains and upholstery to cushion covers and bedspreads. Costs can be minimized if you choose
a multi-purpose fabric that can be used for at least three out of the four above
because bulk buying usually reduces the price. Using the same fabric cushions
and bedspread or curtains and cushions will give a room a co-ordinated look.
If yours is a flat with many ornaments and pictures, pick a plain-colored
fabric. A patterned fabric will make everyone dizzy although it might be ideal
for a rather bare apartment.
The three major Asian fabric furnishing producers are Thailand, India and
Japan. Let's begin with Thai silk. This glorious fabric is tougher and more durable
than other silks and the colors can be both plain and vividly patterned. How-
ever, certain silks can fade in strong sunlight and curtains must therefore be lined.
Good quality Thai silks have colors that will not get washed away and they are
also woven very closely. It means that the silks will not run, sag, shred or wear.
The best Indian silks come mainly from the south and, according to some
people, their lustre is better than Thai silk. Indian silks can be washed. However,
their color will eventually fade in the sun, so dry-cleaning is best.
Another good quality fabric to use is cotton. Most of the best quality cottons
come from Europe and the United States but according to some people, the cot-
tons with the finest, tightest weaves are from Calicut in south-west India. This
hand-woven Indian cotton is durable and tough and reasonably priced. It will
wash without the problems of shrinking and running colors. For other types of
cotton, check that it has been pre-shrunk. Cotton can shrink after the first wash
by as much as a few inches.
There is yet another material which is increasingly popular as a soft furnishing - leather. We all know that leather - usually in dark colors - has long been
used for sofa sets. But now you can buy contemporary furniture (such as large
circular sofa and enormous floor cushions) in leather of every shade and this
means patterned as well as plain. Leather is no longer only for sitting on. Today,
there are also leather tables, chests of drawers and even bedspreads.
The great virtue of leather is that it lasts about four times as long as fabric.
Therefore, a leather sofa could last for as long as sixteen years. Bearing this in
mind, the high cost does not seem quite so exorbitant. Many consider leather
elegant because its feel is as soft as wool and as smooth as silk.