When I see a home that really and truly reflects the personality and passions of the person who lives there, my eyes open a little wider.
When that person’s passion is working with artisans in developing countries to create textiles that reflect local traditions, while appealing to Western tastes, the result is a lively blend of colours and textures it makes my heart sing.
The person behind this quirky home is Harper Poe, who lives in Charleston in South Carolina and runs Proud Mary, where she sources and sells global textiles produced by artisans in Africa and South and Central America. Her home might be small but when it comes to interesting finds, it’s filled to bursting. As we explore, I’ve picked out some simple tips and tricks for using textiles to add colour, texture and character to your home…
1 | Start with white
A plain backdrop gives bold fabrics the best chance to shine. If you like very bright accent colours, white will really make them zing, but if texture is more your thing, soft grey and natural shades work well too. If this all sounds too dull for you, pick out one of the colours from the fabric and use this to paint a feature wall in one area of the room, such as the alcoves or chimney breast.
2 | Layer it up
Layering fabrics instantly creates a sumptuous mood in your home. The easiest place to get this right is in the bedroom by layering bedlinen, quilts, blankets and pillows, or in the living room with throws and cushions. If you’re feeling more adventurous, I’ve seen some fantastic effects layering clashy patterned rugs and curtains too. Design-wise there are two ways to go: toning and textured or patterned and contrasting. Have fun and try a different approach in each room.
Ps – Yes, those are boob-print pillowcases – buy them from Gravel & Gold.
3 | Pick a statement rug
It’s amazing how a well-chosen rug can really pull a room together. When you think about it, your rug is potentially the largest block of colour or pattern you’re likely to have in the room so it pays to make it count. Does your room feel a bit flat? Ramp up the volume with a bold and bright rug design. Does it feel like your other accessories are fighting with each other? Go for a plain textured rug to quieten your scheme. Look for rugs produced to GoodWeave or Care & Fair standards which help prevent exploitation and improve working conditions.
4 | Re-upholster to breathe new life into old furnishings
This pink chair was a hand-me-down from Harper’s Mum. “I say I’m going to re-upholster it every month but when I see it in photos I fall for it again… so pink it stays!” My own latest bargain buy is an amazing Edwardian Chesterfield, picked up on Gumtree for £50. I’ve been quoted £500 by a local upholsterer to restore it using traditional methods, plus about £250 for 8m of organic hemp cloth. I’ll end up with a sofa that has all the character of its last 100 years of life and the satisfaction of making it good for 100 more. Restoring antique furniture is a form of recycling. Keep your eye out on eBay, Gumtree and specialist furniture charity shops for cast-aside bargains and revamp them with beautiful fabrics to create a piece that’s exactly ‘you’.
5 | Switch your textiles for an ever-changing look
The joy of textiles is that they make it easy to give your room a new look in an instant without redecorating. Invest in good-quality cushion inners (I use duck feather pads and buy them 10cm larger than the cover for extra plumpness) then change the cushion covers seasonally. There are no rules, but it’s amazing how the mood of room can be transformed into a cosy nest with warm woven blankets in winter, and freshened up in summer with cool tie-dyed cotton accessories.