That great furniture sale filled the empty spaces in your home with a matching sofa and loveseat, coordinating side chairs and matching pillows. It looked great on that showroom floor, but now that it's in your living room it all seems a bit sterile and blah. The challenge with matching sets is that they lack depth and dimension. They don’t satisfy the sense of touch … they need texture.
You can add texture with a few well-placed pieces, either modern or vintage (or even a mixture of both).
Textiles are any woven fabric or cloth, but informally include knitted or crocheted items as well. When shopping for textiles at flea markets and vintage shops, you'll find a plethora of designs, appliques, embroidery, dyes, and other hand textures applied to fabrics. Often made from wool, cotton, flax (linen) and other natural fibers, vintage textiles add that unique feel for which you're looking. For your home, interesting options include classic pillowcases, framed doilies, hand-knitted or crocheted afghans, hand-stitched quilts, and tapestries.
You also may discover stacks of uncut cloth leftover from some long forgotten sewing project. Open every item to inspect it for damage. Knit and crochet may completely unravel if threads have broken or knot loosened. Discoloration from damp and pests might be hiding in the folds too.
If you genuinely want vintage, you'll find most contain imperfections or uneven stitching, indications of a hand-made product rather than machine made. Check the back too, since aged woven fabrics typically show patterns on both front and back. Beware of bulk materials. Most often, when a dealer has a large stock of one fabric (unless its provenance shows otherwise), it is not very old.
Modern versions of vintage textiles include hand-loomed woolens, delicate embroidery and lace and other hand-made, small batch fabrics. But, if your budget runs more to the lean side, you can get the texture without the vintage or hand-made price. Look for plush knit throws made from chunky yarns, coarsely-woven pillow fabrics, or embellished fabrics to add the depth you seek.
Even a cotton duck (canvas) pillow cover adds texture to a microfiber sofa. Create interest with a seagrass rug or faux fur blanket too. Drapes or curtains of loose-weave, gauzy fabrics let in light while adding the coveted dimension. Wander through the offcuts from upholstery fabrics. You might find a paisley pattern that, if framed or hung from a rod, mimics the look of an expensive tapestry.
Don’t be afraid of mixing textures. Vintage or modern, if you love it, buy it, and bring some life to your space. And if you need a new area, talk to your real estate agent.