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Pick the Fabric First!

If I could offer just one design tip, it would be to pick your fabric before your paint! In today’s world of sophisticated technology, you can take a fabric swatch into the paint store and they will match it to a T.

Paint is available in an endless array of colors. It is the easiest and least expensive major design element to change. For paint, the two choices generally are color and sheen, both of which are available in infinite combinations. Also, at $25-$35 a gallon, a gallon of paint will cover 200-400 square feet of wall space. At the same price, a yard of fabric may cover two throw pillows.

With fabric, in addition to color and sheen, there are a number of considerations that will go into your selection based on use and lifestyle: durability, texture, pattern, style, and budget. Moreover, you are likely to have more than one fabric considering upholstered furniture, drapes and pillows. Fabric selections must be compatible with other fabrics and textures in the room--or even in adjoining rooms. The field from which to pick the perfect fabric becomes narrower if the exact shade and tone of color have been set. Even shades of white and off white can eliminate a large number of fabric options.

Next time you are lured into the paint aisle with decorating on your mind, gather a few paint chips to help you develop some ideas for an overall color scheme, but resist the urge to go home and paint a wall. Save the final decision for the paint until after you have selected fabrics, rugs, and any wallpaper choices. You will have a more satisfying experience.