The first curtains have made a comeback. Then they started to reappear in places other than windows, as room dividers and around beds. It is now almost impossible to open Instagram without seeing a sink with a “skirt”. Or a circular side table dressed in floor-length fabric. Even the lampshades have an additional flounce, while the coffee tables are replaced by upholstered poufs. In short: fabric is once again proliferating in fashionable interiors.

“We still see our fabrics primarily on furniture or curtains, but nowadays they extend to all decorative surfaces such as walls, doors, cabinets and awnings,” says Benjamin Frowein, Managing Director of interiors company F Schumacher & Co Europe. “This is a global trend – Schumacher’s textile business has grown around 20% faster than other categories – but it applies particularly to the UK with its history of beautiful textiles.”

It’s an aesthetic with its roots in British Victoriana, but with a decadent slice of Italian palate. “In Venice, we come from a tradition of weavers and silk merchants, so the fabric is found on all surfaces,” explains Nicolò Favaretto Rubelli, general manager of Rubelli, the family fabric house.

“We have certainly seen a revival of this fad in recent years; decorators are more adventurous in how they use fabric and are experimenting with stronger, more dramatic colors, as well as contrasting and contradictory patterns.

In response, the company has updated versions of its traditional textiles – from a collaboration with FT columnist and designer Luke Edward Hall to the new Damasco Today collection, which reinterprets its luxurious antique damasks for modern tastes. At the same time, interior designers are layering fabrics with a new generation verve.

“For all of our clients at the moment, we’re doing fabric walls,” says Rachel Chudley, whose own east London home has been used as a testing ground for boldly tactile room schemes, mostly using Schumacher fabrics. In her young son’s nursery, for example, the walls are covered in a dark red linen fabric decorated with medieval-style animal motifs (La Menagerie in Flame Red by Schumacher, paperback by Walltex).

“I love it so much I wanted to see it everywhere,” she says of the design, which is used to whimsical effect alongside yellow 1960s flower-embroidered curtains and throw pillows that bring five other fabric patterns into the mix. The mixture. . “I wanted to play with fairly traditional fabrics, but use them in more unusual ways.”

The bedroom is often where the look of fabric layering can be felt the most. “We have customers who are re-dressing four-poster beds with fabric valance, curtains and bedspreads that were really out of fashion,” says Favaretto Rubelli. Valances are also making a comeback, while another popular combination is an upholstered headboard topped with a tester – a canopy draped in fabric to the ceiling that dates back to the 14th century.

“The trial bed is definitely a big thing right now,” says Swedish designer Beata Heuman, who likes to use a structured version with a headband at the top. “It’s so clean and luxurious.”

Chudley’s chamber nods to the traditional tester, but with a twist. A Victorian-inspired floral print (Schumacher’s Jennie Velvet in midnight and magenta) is draped in two stripes from the ceiling behind a headboard, covered in contrasting graphic printed velvet.

It’s perhaps Chudley’s bathroom, however, that takes on the most improbable and flamboyant tone. “I wanted it to look like one of those big, maybe Italian houses,” she says of the space, which has pink marble patterns around the tub and two different fabrics on the walls — one mossy velvet, which she says is water-repellent, and Schumacher’s Bezique Flamestitch velvet, in an irregular color stratum.

(Perhaps a more practical way to bring fabric into the bathroom is House of Hackney’s collaboration with Craven Dunnill Jackfield, which translates Artemis Rose and Artemis Hibiscus floral prints into Victorian-inspired tiles.)

For Flora Soames, who designs her own fabrics, “more is more” © Marco Kesseler/Alamy

For all of our clients at the moment, we're making fabric walls,” says Rachel Chudley, whose own home in east London has been used as a testing ground for bold projects.

“For all of our clients at the moment, we’re making fabric walls,” says Rachel Chudley, whose own home in east London has been used as a testing ground for bold projects © Simon Upton

Heuman also recently chose to line the walls of her home in fabric, using her self-designed blue and white Willow Ink print in her small downstairs powder room. “I love the richness of the fabric walls, but I’ve only done it a few times actually,” she says. “It’s not so much because I don’t want to, but because my clients often don’t quite understand; people tend to think that it will get dusty and not practical.

So what are the advantages of fabric wallcovering over wallpaper? “You walk into the room and you feel so warm and cozy,” suggests Chudley, adding that uniqueness also plays a role. “So many people use wallpaper now that it’s hard to find one you haven’t seen everywhere.”

New Zealand-born, London-based Veere Grenney – former director
in interior design firm Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler and a loyal
of the look of the layered fabric – often uses “wallcovering” because, he says, it’s “acoustically brilliant and immediately atmospheric”.

He shows a cozy fabric-lined TV room he designed for a London house. “I used a beautiful Bennison printed linen fabric called Coromandel for the walls, blinds and upholstery,” he says of the all-encompassing orange and green floral print, which is offset by pillows and an ottoman from different textures and patterns, but all in similar tones. “To quote John Fowler, ‘All reds go together’; in this room, all the oranges go together.

For many, British decorator John Fowler (1906-1977) epitomized the look of layered fabrics. He founded his eponymous interior design company with Sibyl Colefax in the 1930s, championing the aesthetic of English country houses and the use of chintz fabrics.

“It was a testament to how a console table with a beautiful old and new tablecloth can really create a space,” says Flora Soames, an interior designer who has also launched her own fabric designs. “All my MO [modus operandi] is all about print and fabric, and more is more.

To explain why fabric is more and more in the spotlight in our homes, “cosiness” and “comfort” are words repeated by these designers. Another is “nostalgia”. “It taps into the memories of Grandma’s living room with a frilly tablecloth,” says Soames.

For Mary Graham, one half of interior design duo Salvesen Graham, nostalgia for the fabric-laden 1980s is a factor. “A lot of us decorating homes now grew up in the Laura Ashley era,” she says, “although now it’s definitely a more streamlined, more personalized version.”

Graham adds that many fabric elements also have DIY appeal and can be put together in a short amount of time. In Heuman’s Willow Ink washroom, the sink skirt was one of those quick fixes: “I made it from a big batch of old hand-woven sheets I bought at auction,” she says. And for Soames, a bathroom in historic Houghton Hall in Norfolk was quickly given a sense of drama and decadence with a frill of striped, ruched fabric covering the upper half of the walls. “I just knocked him up; it was really spontaneous,” she says. “But I love the theatrics of this one.”

For those who want to try the fabric-on-fabric-on-fabric effect with very little effort, interior designer Emma Ainscough has decorated a pretty Shropshire cottage with a full range of textile elements – from sink skirts and from fabric-draped dressing tables to a sleeping area with curtains and tents – which can be hired for holidays with Unique Homestays (Charlotte’s Folly sleeps up to six people, from £1,995 a week).

But is there one layer too many? “Not in my book!” says Soames, although all the designers agree that it’s a nice balance. “There is something very invaluable and playful about this look. He doesn’t take himself too seriously.

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