Chapter Eight: Soft Furnishings

Enrich and enliven your home's interior with beautiful soft furnishings for every room. Find out how in Chapter Eight of the Houseology Design School.


Design School

Fabrics are the soul of any room and are a crucial component in the character of your space. From your window dressings to the fabrics you choose to upholster your sofa, your soft furnishings will add a subtle dimension to your design scheme.

In this chapter we talk you through choosing the right fabrics for your soft furnishings, and how you can balance colour, pattern and texture to add character to your space and create the perfect look.

01.Soft furnishings

Simply put, your soft furnishings are any fabrics that are used in your design scheme and may include:

The fabrics you choose for your home can convey a lot about your style; textured fabrics tend to feel contemporary and relaxed, while sleek, smooth fabrics are elegant and refined. The same way cool linen makes us think of summer, soft, cosy flannel reminds us of wintery nights curled up by the fire. Consider how you can use fabric and texture to set the tone of your room and create the look you want.

Chapter 8 Soft Furnishings

02.Incorporating texture

Texture is a design element we refer back to a lot – what standout interiors all have in common is an almost effortless use of texture which adds depth and makes the space feel multi-dimensional.

The use of texture in soft furnishings is about our sense of touch and how things feel. Texture is also about our perceived sense of touch, you don’t need physical contact with a room to feel the power of texture and its impact on a design scheme. Think of interiors you have admired online or in design magazines – no matter what the style, the use of texture is one thing every space will have in common.

Chapter 8 Soft Furnishings

In your own room designs, consider the textures of your soft furnishings and how you can create balance and contrast in your space. Try and use a combination of two or three distinct textures and think about how they will look when layered together, such as with cushions on a sofa or the blanket and linens on your bed.

03.Using pattern

Pattern brings movement, shape and colour into your design scheme – without these elements a room can feel flat and boring. Even a room that’s rich in colour will feel as if something is missing unless texture and pattern play a role in the finished look. Your soft furnishings are the ideal opportunity to introduce pattern into your space and bring your room to life.

Pattern needn’t be intimidating; there are dozens of ways to incorporate it into your design. A well-placed pattern looks just as sharp in a sophisticated space as it does in a relaxed, Urban interior. It’s all about finding the right pattern and tone for your style.

In general, the bigger the print the fuller the room will appear, so think about scale and where you want to incorporate it into your design. The biggest pattern should go on the biggest piece.

Chapter 8 Soft Furnishings

Try to use two or three separate patterns around the room. The patterns you choose don’t need to be dominant or included in every soft furnishing in your room design – instead, look for one or two different pieces where you can incorporate patterns and textures. Smaller items like cushions allow you to explore your pattern personality and see what works in your space.

Look for ways you can make your patterns work together by subtly repeating similar colours and tones rather than using the same pattern over and over. Mixing two or more of the same patterns can feel overwhelming, for example two florals or two stripes of the same colour and scale. Instead, choose a larger print with several colours, then pull accents from this and use other, smaller patterns around the room.

04.Balancing colour and pattern

Creating continuity through your soft furnishings comes down to continuity in your colour palette. Having a shade in common or using colours that are similar in tone is what ties the whole scheme together.

Look at underplayed colours in your most prominent patterns and think about how your other soft furnishings can build off the colour scheme in your largest prints. You can coordinate your patterns by matching less prominent colours or by choosing different patterns that are all similar in tone – for example, different colours and patterns in the same pastel shade.

Chapter 8 Soft Furnishings

The same way pattern can bring interest to a solid colour scheme, solid colours and neutrals will help to tone patterns down and promote harmony in your space. Counter your biggest, boldest patterns with areas of solid colours and neutrals to keep your room in balance.

Distributing colour and pattern evenly around the room is key – otherwise the room will feel lopsided. The more pattern you mix in a room, the more you will need to layer in visual relief – leave space between your major patterns and use plain colour to break up the room. If you intend to use pattern heavily, keep the walls, floors and biggest pieces of furniture neutral to provide you with a blank canvas for bold, striking patterns.


Mixing textures, materials and colours can create a sense of luxury in an instant – there’s no more welcoming a feeling when you walk into your bedroom than a beautifully made bed with smooth fabrics, comforting colours and big, soft pillows and cushions.

Layering your soft furnishings helps achieve an effortless look, giving the impression the room has evolved over time and been loved and lived in along the way. Done right, layering can create dimension, add comfort, please the eye and even hide parts of your space that you don’t want to emphasise.

Chapter 8 Soft Furnishings

With layering, think about how different combinations of colour, texture and pattern will have an impact – mixing different tones and patterns will create a look that’s visually appealing, while layering the right textures will make sure it feels wonderful too.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to layering, making it easy to create a look that works with your style. Vary widths, heights and textures with your accessories and try to create contrast with your soft furnishings, for example a soft rug against a hardwood floor. It’s about balance, not symmetry – group and then rearrange items until you create the right look.

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