I’m all about silk in home design these days, literally ‘worming’ my way to creating fabulous spaces: silk wallpapers, drapery, upholstery and rugs. I just can’t get enough of this incredible textile. There truly is nothing like silk, if you want to create a room that looks and feels like luxury, then nothing compares to the “silky smooth” yet simultaneously rough texture of silk. The way its prism shaped fibers reflect the light is unbeatable, lately, it is my go to textile for fabulous spaces.
Silk is one of the many inventions that we thank the Chinese for. The legend of silk gives credit to Yuen Fei, a concubine of an emperor nearly 5000 years ago who accidently dropped a cocoon into her tea and after watching it unravel, discovered the silk thread. This queen of fibers is versatile and decadecant. Silk is a protein fiber, as is wool. It is natural for silks to have some irregularities – sometimes called “slubs”. This is the nature of the 100% silk fabric if you are looking at silk fabric samples and you see tiny black specs these are not flaws but actually part of the original cocoon. The most expensive silks are made from cocoons of the Bombyx moth who feeds from mulberry leaves. Other silks are made from moths that feed on oak leaves. Amazingly, the average coon contains three to four hundred meters of silk.
How can we use silk at home? Let’s start with the simple ways: elegant drapery panels for your window, this is my go to window dressing. Simply hung or tied back with a beautiful tassel, the iridescent quality of silk will dazzle in the sun while providing great light control if closed. Being a natural fiber, silk is prone to colour fading, so draperies must be lined and interfaced. Include a silk-upholstered pair of chairs or add some DIY silk cushions made from vintage silk scarves to an existing upholstered piece in the room. Consider hand-painted silk or embroidery on the pillows or even on the back of the chairs for a truly custom look.
Since my first trip to the silk factories of Suzhou, China, I have been hooked on silk wallpapers of all kinds; hand painted, embroidered and left au natural. The look and feel of silk on the walls is irresistible elegance and I can’t think of a space that would not benefit from this wall treatment. We have wallpapered dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms and even water closets with silk. I just can’t get enough of this textile in design. I guess we could say that the Silk Road is the way to fabulous spaces. Consider this natural, ancient textile for your next design project- five thousand years of being the most luxurious textile made can’t be wrong and if you haven’t all ready embraced the silk worm – isn’t time you did?