The Best Ways to Show Off a Textile in Your Home

One of the best keepsakes to bring back from faraway travels is a textile. (Or, of course, you can source them from your favorite local designers; more wooly Scottish tartans and Chinese damasks for us.) Not only does a textile fold up nicely to fit inside your suitcase for the return trip home, it tells the story of another time and place. And it’s just the start of something: How you choose to show it off (or squirrel it away) in your home is entirely up to you. But in case you find the prospect overwhelming or the thought of committing terrifying—if I make it a pillow it can never again be used as a throw for the sofa!—we rounded up some designer-approved ideas to help a textile lover out. Here are six ways that textile designers and textile-loving designers like to show them off (none of which involve pillows, because you already know you can do that).


“I love the way framing really showcases the handwork of a textile,” says St. Frank designer Christina Bryant, who built an entire business around selling framed textiles. She prefers an acrylic box frame “because it shows off the three-dimensionality and texture of the piece” and “lends itself to sharing the history behind the piece—whether the craft method and motif or your personal connection to it.” I.e., you’ll be more inclined to tell your friends about it.

And this Houston living room from designer Meg Lonergan, which features a framed scarf, is a great reminder that not all textiles are just swaths of raw fabric:

Turned into a headboard

Designer Frances Merrill, of Reath Design, turned this African textile into a headboard by backing and upholstering it with light padding so that it would be comfortable to lean on. The project was completed for client’s house in the Windsor Square area of L.A. Photo: Kimberly Genevieve

Spread across the seat of a couch

Perfect for the indecisive or noncommittal, spreading a textile across a couch’s seat cushions—as textile designer Nathalie Farman-Farma, of Décors Barbares, did with this vintage curtain in her own home—is about as low-touch an application as they come. Big impact, and no need to pay for upholstery. Photo: Miguel Flores Vianna

You could also spread a piece of fabric across the back of the couch, as textile designer Rebecca Atwood did with one of her original designs in this calming room: Photo: Emily Johnston

Made into poufs

Smaller swaths of fabric can be upholstered into plush or structural poufs—one or a few are welcome added seating in a room that needs more places to perch. Sally Breer, of Co-Mingle Design, used kilims to create the poufs pictured here. Courtesy of Sally Breer

Other small-scale upholstering projects: the seat of a favorite chair, the front of a dresser, the top of a bench.

As window treatments

Sally Breer is also a fan of turning textiles into window treatments—especially “if you’ve got a funny-shaped window or a window on a wall that’s really needing some art,” look to vintage textiles for inspiration. As Sally notes, they often come in “very odd sizes,” so all the better for transforming them into something else. Courtesy of Rebecca Atwood

Hung directly on the wall

By draping a textile over a pole and then raising it to hang against the wall, you’ll “instantly transform it into a piece of art,” according to British interior designer Abigail Ahern. “By elevating the piece,” she says, “it can immediately turn a space into a warm cosy abode.”

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