Ask A Designer – coordinating bedroom fabrics

tanna paisley bed
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Ask A Designer™

Coordinating Bedroom Fabrics

Q. I would like your help in coordinating some fabrics I found for a bedding design. First, I should say that I love color and designer things, but my husband is from New England and is used to refined, conservative (boring) decorating. I don’t mind a formal look so much, it is the lack of color that drives me crazy. Miraculously, we both like this paisley fabric.

I like the aqua matelasse with it even though it doesn’t match exactly.  My husband likes a darker muted velvet or small swirl fabric. I can’t see a solid velvet all across the bed or another pattern. He absolutely won’t let me have red sheets or anything drastic, but he said I can use some fringe with color but not red. I’m dying to have red with the paisley. Is there any way to work some red in the bedding that he might like? Can we use the matelsse even though it is light?  Help! We don’t want to start over.—J.S.

A. There is red and then there are shades of reddish wonderful things. Let’s see if some of those are beautiful enough for you. In the paisley fabric, your husband’s sense of refinement works for you because of the unique colors in the tapestry weave. There are two shades of warmth: a burnt red and a ginger.

Squint your eyes for a minute to see the shade in between. This is your magical color. It ranges from Tuscan Red to Clay. Here is a fabric with both colors woven together. Now, the trick is to assign it to its proper place. I agree with you, a sea of aqua velvet is not desirable on the bed. The paisley is nice, but there would be a lot of it, and the conservative nature would be amplified.The matelasse is made for covering beds, so we will start with that.

It is essential to add trim to it and break it up with a throw so that it won’t go pastel all by itself. The next thing is to keep all the design orderly and with tailored shaping to achieve “refinement” while we pop a little color.

Here is a drawing with red pencil showing my recommendation of the tuscan red as a contrast pleat within a velvet skirt and also on the back of the predominantly paisley throw. Notice the role of the velvet in making a richer aqua which allows a more natural link to the busyness and color.

From here, you can assign trim to pillows to enhance your favorite shades or to add a little energy. If you like, a piping can be made of the Tuscan Red fabric for the edge of the bed covering and a pillow or two. The crisp, clean look it provides will likely be within your husband’s comfort zone. A twisted, manufactured cording can bring out any ratio of the colors. My favorite is this triple tassel trim showing cleaner versions of the very hues in the paisley fabric. A solid gimp in aqua also helps cool the color and rest the eye.

You can push the color toward blue or green, as you like, since the velvet is shaded and the matelasse creates shadow. Things which don’t seem to go together and/or one person shifting the desires of another can provide design opportunities for uniquely gorgeous results like this!

decor for mountain home—no plaid!

Q. I would like some suggestions about how to decorate our new mountain home. It is a second home for my husband and me, but we will be spending a lot of time there since he is nearing retirement and working from home more. The house is bold and a little masculine but not very rustic. I don’t want to be surrounded by cabin decor. It would be fine for a getaway, but there is a chance we will retire there fulltime, so I would like it to be elegant like our house in the city with some appropriate decor for the mountains. Is there anything out there besides green plaid and pine cones?—M.B.

A. Sure, there are many things that work. Let’s open up the meaning of a mountain retreat to include natural materials, the color brown, and outdoor motifs. Take a look at these items.

Natural linen has a chunky weave for a back-to-basics feel. Here the drapery has a contemporary printed version of a design authentic to King Louie’s era. The headboard is also a style borrowed from old Europe, but with antique silver nail heads (linking masculine elements) and creamy linen.
A few pieces specifically relating to the location need to be planned for at least two rooms. This moose is a very well crafted collector’s piece. Notice how the antlers and posture of the animal have similar design qualities to the damask motif on the drapery. Make sure the pieces you select have a similar respectable quality about them.

tanna lodge

In the master suite, don’t give up luxury at all. A dark fudge design of leaves and flowers on stormy teal in a sturdy fabric seem appropriate while lending glamour. Touches of silk will make you feel at home. The lamp example is a softer blue which can define or accent an adjoining room. The “real” aspect of blown glass and hand crafted metal and textile relates to the home very well.

have deliberately chosen more feminine things to see how far we could push the style. Landscapes provide an easy middle ground. Have fun and consider less formal images than you would have before. Watch the frames, and avoid elegant ballroom shapes. Consider a transitional rug in a room or two. This one combines the soft blue and chocolate already used with black (a fashion color) and earthy ginger and yellow moss.

The cosmopolitan in you will feel at home with trendsetting pieces like this, and the colors provide easy transitions to related schemes. I think you will find the project very exciting once you get into it. I sure would.

Editor’s Note: We welcome all questions related to home design—ask us about color, room arrangement, planning for a new home, selecting furnishings, lighting, flooring, and more. Questions are answered by Tanna Miller, allied member ASID, a well respected designer who has operated her award winning interior design practice, Trends & Traditions, in Nashville for 18 years. Visit or call 615-601-0552.

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