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Modern fabric

Using Modern Fabrics to Breathe New Life into Antique Furniture

As beautiful as antique furniture is, some pieces need a little extra boost to bring them back to life. In general, antique furniture is built to last a long time; many pieces are made out of mahogany, which is a very visually appealing and durable wood. Rarely, a "well-loved" piece of antique furniture needs to be thrown out or replaced. Pieces that are made completely out of wood only need a simple polish now and again to look good as new, but pieces featuring upholstery fabrics usually need a deeper clean and sometimes need to be re-upholstered entirely.

Usually, the fabrics used on antique furniture are the first part of the piece to wear out, but the re-upholstering process is easy and inexpensive. A lot of vintage furniture owners re-upholster their pieces themselves. When the time for reupholstery comes, you can either choose to stick to vintage and period-specific fabrics or get adventurous with modern and unusual abstract or geometric patterns. Doing so gives the furniture piece an air of mystery and a pop of color, depending on the fabric colors that you choose, and it allows you to show off your personality in an unexpected way.

If you've inherited an antique chair from your grandmother, for example, adding modern fabric is a fun way to make your mark on a legacy that spans generations. After all, fabrics tell a story; vintage fabrics tell the story of the past, and the fabrics that your grandmother used hold all your grandmother's most precious childhood memories, from using the chair to stand for the first time to sitting and reading for hours on end. When that original fabric wears down, and it's time to replace it, it isn't disrespectful to pick a fabric that represents you and who you are. It's an honor. Plus, re-upholstering it with modern fabrics increases the chances that the family members you pass it down to will keep it, use it, and take care of it for many years before it's time for them to add their special touch to the piece.

Not all antique pieces are family heirlooms; re-upholstering a piece that you find at a thrift store or garage sale can just be a fun art project. It's especially fun if you find a statement piece that's unique on its own. Re-upholstering a unique piece of furniture with modern fabric adds to its one-of-a-kind nature, which makes it fun to show off to your guests, friends, and family members. It's not often that you see an antique piece with modern fabric. With so many fabrics available online, it's easier than ever to customize your furniture piece with a pattern that no one has ever seen before.

Another great thing about how accessible modern fabrics are is that it's unusual to find two patterns that are the same. Even if you get the idea to use modern fabric on antique furniture from someone online, there are so many colors and patterns out there to choose from that you can feel confident that your piece will still be unique. When you're shopping for upholstery fabrics, pick a pattern that speaks to you and that you won't mind looking at every single day. Doing so will ensure that you love your piece for years to come, which should be the goal of any reupholstery project.

On a more practical note, adding modern fabric to an antique piece is a great way to make a piece of vintage reproduction furniture blend in well with the rest of your house. For example, let's say you find an antique armchair that you love, but the upholstery fabric is a bright red while the rest of your house is in shades of green. A simple reupholstery using green fabric (or a fun tropical print featuring green leaves) will fix your problem in no time! If the color of the original fabric is fine, but the pattern is too old-timey to blend in well with your modern home, it's easy to find an abstract or geometric pattern in a variety of colors to help your vintage piece fit right in.

To understand what modern patterns can do for your furniture, let's remind ourselves what old-fashioned patterns look like. Fabric patterns usually used on antique furniture pieces include brocade, chevron, chinoiserie, damask, harlequin, herringbone, houndstooth, ikat, jacobean, matelasse, ogee, paisley, quatrefoil, suzani, tartan, and toile. Among these patterns are rich, ornamental, and traditional in design; it's very common to see floral inspirations within the designs. Even chevron, though it's often used in modern spaces, has been used for hundreds and hundreds of years. It gives the illusion of being contemporary even though it has a long history in the world of fabrics.

Deciding what makes a fabric "modern" is a little tricky, but it's easier if you think of it in terms of whether or not it's "nontraditional." Some modern patterns include checkered, geometric, animal prints, abstract, tropical leaves, blue prints, etc. Any fabric that you see that you can't picture in colonial, Victorian or other historical settings could probably be considered modern. They help a room feel new, fresh and energized, and there are new patterns designed every day. You can make your furniture look artistic, edgy, fun, silly--whichever best describes your personality and personal tastes! There's no limit to what you can do with modern fabrics on antique furniture.

More than anything, using modern fabric patterns breathes new life into a space. Whether you're young or old, you can have a lot of fun mixing and matching different fabrics on different pieces of furniture. Start with colors and prints that speak to you and see where your imagination leads.

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